Columbus School for Girls' Form III students are the youngest recipients of the Columbus Landmarks Foundation's Paul E. Young Jr. Outstanding Achievement in Education Award.
The class, which consists of third-graders, received the award for their Columbus Landmarks and Neighborhoods Project, in which they researched and made 3D replicas of local historical sites.
"The award honors students or educators for a project that has fostered discovery of the city's architectural and historical legacy while promoting the cause of historic preservation," Columbus Landmarks Foundation Executive Director Becky West said in a news release.
From September to December 2017, the students collected data, honed map skills, practiced writing directions, learned to use Google Classroom and researched local landmarks, said Form III teachers Nichole Bondi and Amanda Bunten.
"It was driven by our goals of giving students a basic understanding of maps and how to use them, and how to build a familiarity with the city they live in," Bunten said.
Employing Harvard University's Making Learning Visible model that promotes experiential learning, Bunten and Bondi guided the students through interactive lessons using maps to discover landmarks in downtown Columbus.
After studying the maps, the students gave CSG bus drivers directions to travel to field trips, visiting sites such as the Ohio Statehouse and the Columbus Metropolitan Library. In addition, the students took a walking tour of German Village.
"They went on a scavenger hunt through German Village to identify slate roofs and horse-hitching posts," Bondi said. "Each girl chose a landmark."
The project culminated in a presentation in which the students built replicas of the landmarks they selected and described their research to students, faculty, parents and members of Columbus City Council and community leaders, who were invited with the help of CSG librarian Annie Ruefle.
The students transformed CSG's gymnasium into a "3D map" of Columbus with replicas of sites such as the Statehouse, Topiary Park and the LeVeque Tower. The students wrote scripts for skits in which they acted out the history of each monument.
"It was totally student-driven," Bondi said. "They said, 'We're not just actresses. We are the builders, the creators.' "
Among the attendees at the presentation were Columbus City Council members Elizabeth Brown and Michael Stinziano and Columbus Landmarks Foundation director Susan Keeney. It was Keeney who informed CSG administrators that the students were eligible for the foundation's Paul E. Young Jr. Outstanding Achievement in Education Award. The award is named in honor of one of the Columbus Landmarks Foundation's founding trustees, a longtime architecture professor at Ohio State.
Bondi and Bunten randomly selected 10 students to join them and CSG's Director of Lower School Betsy Gugle at the awards ceremony May 10 at the Athletic Club of Columbus.
"It built (the students') observational skills," Bunten said. "These connections are tangible to them and very accessible."