2019 Island Hero

Academics, Middle School

Students Imagine and Create Islands

Brightly painted and imaginative relief maps now fill the counters of the 6th Grade classrooms at The Northwest School. The annual Island Project is the first major 6th Grade Humanities project of the school year.

“We’ve been learning about geography, landmarks, and how to calculate absolute location,” says Gwyneth I. “This project involved pretty much everything we’ve learned in Humanities this year.”

Students worked in groups of three or four, bringing their topographical relief maps to scale. Each island was required to contain a detailed key and multiple paragraphs about the island describing landforms, land cover, culture, hand history. To prepare for the project, students studied the six themes of geography: physical geography, population, standard of living, resources, culture, and environmental issues.

Gwyneth and her teammates, Iman A. and Tanner M., created an island inspired by the yin and yang symbol, with half the island covered by tropical rainforest and the other half in desert. Before constructing the islands, students spent time planning out all the details and strategized on the best way to maximize construction time.

“This project teaches a lot about how to work well in a group,” says Tanner. “Cooperating on what features our island had was a challenge. We realized quickly we don’t always agree on everything, and we had to figure out how to compromise.”

The students only had one class period to build the islands, and one period to paint their relief maps. For many of them, the deadline was challenging but was worth it to see the final products.

“My favorite part of the project was building the islands because you get to see what it looks like after all of the planning,” says Iman. “It was really exciting to see it come together, and to see what our classmates created too.”