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Industrious Hands & Inspired Minds

“What the hand does, the mind remembers.” – Maria Montessori

When children are given the opportunity to bring their imaginations to life with their own hands, the learning that takes place is astounding and powerful.

We witnessed this in the third term as groups of students in LED collaborated on simple and compound machine projects. With recent Science lessons on forces, Newton’s Laws of Motion and different simple machines serving as their launchpad, second and third-year students independently planned and built some very ingenious machines. The machines varied in purpose and complexity, with some projects being functional models of a particular type of simple machine, while others were compound machines designed to solve a specific problem, such as moving a heavy book from one point on a rough carpet to another, or accurately sending a foam cube into a nearby basket. All of the projects were independently conceptualized and planned, and built from materials sourced from home or the classroom. 

After spending the last few of weeks at school focused on the building and refining of the projects, the children finally had the opportunity to present, demonstrate and test their machines in front of an excited audience of curious classmates. They expertly described the purpose of their machines and the different forces at work, explained the problem they were trying to overcome, and displayed the relentless spirit of curiosity that lies at the heart of scientific inquiry. This exercise was especially impressive for the first-year students, who had likewise experimented with simple machines through the third term, and were offered stellar examples of scientific inquiry and the testing of hypotheses to emulate. 

While hands-on learning is now very much accepted as a crucial component of effective education, it is of note that Dr. Montessori recognized its importance over a hundred years ago, and made it a guiding, central principle in her methodology. Even then, she understood the formative impact of sensory and practical experience in the context of a child’s learning, and made it a central tenet of her approach to education.

These simple and compound machine projects – and more importantly, the process that the children undertook together in their creation – are just one example from this school year of the countless, amazing ways that the children nurtured and revealed their minds by using their hands. Throughout the year, we were constantly inspired by their big ideas and astonished by their abilities and strengths.

Thank you, LED, for a year made most memorable by your industrious hands and imaginative, inquisitive minds! 

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