Our Capital Cities

In Block 5 (How We Organize Ourselves), we started learning about societies and governments. You can read about the beginning of our process here: http://architectsofwonder.edublogs.org/2014/03/11/how-we-organize-ourselves/

During one of our discussions about different types of governments, one student asked if we could build cities to show what we know about a government. After thinking this through, we decided we would need to learn enough about a specific type of government in order to really know what a capital city would look like.

We broke into three small groups and each chose a type of government we wanted to learn about. Mrs. Baldwin’s only rule was that we could not choose a democratic republic, since we already have that experience here in the United States.

The government types we chose: Oligarchy, Monarchy, and Dictatorship.

Oligarchy group: 

We used Minecraft to build our capital city. We learned that a very small group has all the power in an oligarchy, and they do not provide good resources for the other people of their country. There is usually a very wealthy side of town (minority) and a very poor side of town (majority) in the capital city. South Africa was an oligarchy for many years.

Monarchy group:

We learned that a Monarchy usually has a king or a queen (or both). Sometimes, the royalty is good to the people of the kingdom, and sometimes not good. Even a good king or queen will cost the citizens of the kingdom a lot of money, because the royalty has an expensive castle or home that is paid for by the citizens. If the king/queen is really good, there will be good resources for the citizens.  If the king/queen is not good to the people, the kingdom will suffer. The people will be very poor, hungry, and have bad living conditions. We decided to do a modern style Monarchy where the capital city would have good resources for the people and an expensive castle for the monarchs. Sweden is an example with a sovereign monarch.


Dictatorship group:

We learned that a dictator takes all the power and uses a strong military to control the country’s people. Citizens have little or no freedom at all, and everything depends upon what the dictator wants to do. The dictator’s home in a capital city will be very expensive and have a lot of servants. Also, there will be many guards around the dictator’s home. In the parts of city where the citizens live, they will have a lot of military guards and areas where they are not allowed. All access to the city will be heavily guarded.  Examples are Nazi Germany and North Korea.

We loved learning about types of governments by building cities! This activity was our choice, and we learned so much by building. We had to think about details of every building, roads, resources for citizens, and so much more.

How We Organize Ourselves

This is a “peek” into how we sometimes start an inquiry cycle. 
Opening statement: Societal decision-making is created to maintain a balanced community.
First, we looked at some of the terms in that statement and then defined them in our own words:
“societal” – of a society
“maintain” – manage, keep, control
“balanced” – fair

From that point, we discussed related topics:  laws, government, voting, order, enforcement

We thought about issues that come up within these topics:  conflict between freedom, independence,  and power or control.

Thoughts/Connections before questioning:
Carter B. brought up Russia and Ukraine as a connection. We discussed as a class what they have learned so far about this issue/current event.
Initial Questions:

  • what are the different types of governments?
  • what services does government provide? (US? Other?)
  • how do we “keep the peace” in a community?
  • what are some similar laws across countries?
  • what is the “greater good?”
  • what are differences among federal, state, city (US)?
  • what are the origins of some laws?
  • what kind of laws still exist, but aren’t enforced? Why?
  • why do only certain people get to vote?
  • why is there a voting age?
  • do all countries have a Constitution?
 Next steps:
We’ll take these questions, dig a little deeper, branch out into more complex questions, and then start looking at how we can learn more. We will use our eduClipper app to clip resources to the Clipboard section.
Next, we will decide how we want to learn more. We will work in small groups to make decisions.

Return to Discovery Center- Mars Rover Simulation

Last week, we returned to the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs to take part in their Mars Rover simulation! Yes, we were very fortunate to be one of the first classrooms to participate in this activity. So exciting!

When we arrived, Team Baldwin and Team Weissman (another awesome class from Anastasis) met in the simulation lab and learned about the history of the different rovers sent to Mars. The Discovery Center team talked to us about each rover, its capabilities, and what they have learned about Mars so far. The most recent rover sent to Mars is called Curiosity. We love that name! The lab looks a lot like the terrain on Mars! We looked at what they had created and then thought about which items might actually be on Mars versus those that look man-made.

Some of us were really surprised when it came time to “drive” the mini Mars rovers. We had assumed that we would use controllers like we have at home for Wii or Xbox. Instead, each station had its own laptop. The Discovery Center team divided us all into groups of 3 and then gave each student a role: Commander, Pilot, and Data Engineer. The Commanders decided which “moves” to execute. The Pilots used the program on the laptop to execute the moves, and then the Data Engineer recorded all the energy levels based on multiple factors for each move to make sure that we didn’t run out of battery before getting to our destination. Each student in the group took turns in all three roles. Lots of math, trial and error, and problem-solving!

We had a great time learning about the rovers! One of the things we learned was that when one of our mini rovers got stuck, the team could walk into the simulation and help us out. If that happens to Curiosity, no one can just take a quick trip to Mars to fix it. If Curiosity gets stuck, it’s a billion dollar mistake. Now we know why the commanders, pilots, and data engineers for NASA have to move very slowly and really think about each move that Curiosity takes.