Hershey Middle Schoolers Build Computers, Experience Digital Age

In Hershey Montessori School’s Adolescent Community, studies in Humanities give adolescents the opportunity to connect with the whole of human history through integrated scholarship, including research, experiential investigation, and expression.  

This quarter, some students explored the Digital Age. Students, led by Humanities guide Nicole Lederle, first began their exploration by learning about the evolution of communication, from the invention of the printing press to today’s growing use of A.I. (artificial intelligence).

Adolescents researched the ins and outs of computer functions, creating their own presentations on selected topics involving technology and communication. 

The next step was to begin the hands-on execution of building their own computers. Students worked in teams of three to build Piper Computer models. The Piper Computer comes in a kit and is designed to give a hands-on STEM learning experience. It also provides students with the fundamentals of electronics and coding through the use of Minecraft Pi and a Scratch-like coding language.

Each model was put together like a puzzle and students got to see how the parts of the computer connect and work together. The adolescents took two class sessions to strategize, problem-solve, and build their fully functioning model. By the end of the second building session, students basked in the glory of their final product, eager to show the other Humanities class what they had accomplished.

The Piper Models consist of a wooden shell fully put together by the students, a Raspberry Pi motherboard, a screen, a small mouse, breadboards, and wiring for controls.  

Hershey middle school students engaged individually, and collaboratively, in sophisticated academic and multisensory, project-based learning. 

The hands help the development of the intellect. When a child is capable of using his hands, he can have a quantity of experiences in the environment through using them. In order to develop his consciousness, then his intellect, and then his will, he must have exercises and experiences.

Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures, p. 130

Bringing lessons to life through an experiential, hands-on learning process is what truly captivates the student. Dr. Montessori knew this. Her approach to educating the whole child in this manner is what makes the Montessori method the sought-after education model families love providing for their children and adolescents.