Field Experience

Location Scouting @ Lower Wacker Drive

Students in the Ollywood Elective have been pursuing the guiding question, What makes a movie a movie?. In this course, students have taken on the role of a film critic and are learning to evaluate films based on 3 stages of production: pre-production, production, and post-production. As a part of their investigation of pre-production, students have been learning about the role and creativity involved in scouting locations for film settings. For this Field Experience, students were given the opportunity to propose a location worthy of the time of a location scout.

There were lots of great pitches for locations, including:

  • Cairo, IL: as the location for a post-apocalyptic film depicting society in ruins;
  • the Merchandise Mart: as the location of an action film with a chase scene on a bridge;
  • the Bahá’í House of Worship: as the location of a medieval romance;
  • Pratt’s Castle (Elgin, IL): as the location of a medieval romance;
  • Oz Park: as the setting of a Disney family film

And there were more! The ultimate winner, though, despite the frequency of its use as a setting — in films such as The Dark Night, Batman Begins, Wanted, and The Blues Brothers — is Lower Wacker Drive. So the students explored the different landscapes of Lower Wacker Drive and captured photos to visualize the story they want to tell.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is to investigate the guiding question, what is the role of a location scout?. Students will familiarize themselves with the role of the location scout as one part of the pre-production process in the making of a film. Students will also create a short storyboard demonstrating their understanding of the responsibilities of the scout.

How?

Students will walk around Lower Wacker Drive to collect photographs to create their short storyboard.

Field Experience

Studying Sustainability at Interface

In the first unit of the Biomimicry Elective, the students have been investigating the guiding question, What would a plant do?. In this course, students are studying the concept of biomimicry through Art & Science. They are investigating diverse case studies of biomimicry that rethink art, technology, and society from the perspective of nature in order to rethink and redesign flawed products. As a part of this investigation, the students visited Interface, a global flooring company whose products are not only inspired by nature but whose production positively impacts the planet.

The students spent the morning touring the Interface showroom and talking to Mikhail Davis, their Director of Restorative Enterprise to learn more about how biomimicry is applied. Our biggest takeaway from Mikhail is that nature has already solved all of our problems, our job is to ask her the right questions to find the solutions.

Why

The students visited Interface to learn how nature impacts not only the design of their products but the mission and philosophy of the company.

How

The students will talk to Mikhail Davis, the Director of Restorative Enterprise at Interface.

Field Experience

Exploration Before Innovation

The students in the Innovative School Design workshop have been assigned to think about the design of our new facility. They ventured out to explore a space that could potentially be our new school. As they stepped out of the Roosevelt El station, the students reveled at their proximity to the Metra station, the park, and a handful of their favorite food spots. Upon entering the building, they were greeted by an open loft full of possibilities.

After exploring the interior of the building, the students ventured outside to Grant Park where they got a better sense of their surroundings and a great view of the exterior of the building. They discovered public artworks, a skatepark, and even started to map out their route from home to this new space.

Field Experience

Feeling Climate Change @ The Lincoln Park Conservatory

In the final unit of the Water class, the Freshman have been investigating the guiding question, How can you utilize water to predict the weather?. In pursuit of an answer, students have been studying precipitation, cloud formation, greenhouse gasses, and climate change. As a part of this investigation, students visited the Lincoln Park Conservatory which houses thousands of plants that thrive in different climates. Students walked through the Palm House, the Fern Room, the Orchid Room, and the Showroom, all of which were set at different temperatures to best mimic the plants’ natural habitats. The Freshman took this opportunity to measure temperatures and humidity levels, and experienced in an immediate way, how climate change feels.

Why

The Freshman walked through the halls of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, experienced climate change, and measured and collected data on temperature.

How

Students were guided through the halls by a docent who offered insight on why different plants thrive in certain temperatures and how climate change is effecting plants and animals in their natural habitats.

Field Experience

Examining Photojournalism @ The Gage Gallery

In the final unit of the Journalism course, the Seniors have been investigating the guiding question, How does photojournalism help you see the world?. As a part of this investigation, students have been examining the works of famous photojournalists to better understand the elements of an effective photograph. The Seniors visited the Gage Gallery at Roosevelt University to view the exhibit, Steve Schapiro: Civil Rights Era Contact Sheets which showcases a collection of enlarged proof sheets from Steve Schapiro’s work during the civil rights era of the 1960s. Steve Schapiro is an American photographer known for his work documenting key moments of the civil rights movement. The exhibit of mostly unpublished photographs provided the students with a unique behind-the-scenes look at photojournalism.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is to investigate the guiding question, What’s the meaning of life… in 1000 words and 1 photo?. The students examined the photographs in the exhibit, Steve Schapiro: Civil Rights Era Contact Sheet and talked to Mike Ensdorf, the gallery director and photography professor at Roosevelt University to better understand the role of photojournalists in educating the public.

How?

The students will examine the photographs and gather inspiration for their own photograph.

Field Experience

Fluttering through Evolution @ the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Hello, I’m a Sophmore at GCE Lab School. Recently, our class traveled to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, founded in 1857 by the Chicago Academy of Sciences. Visiting the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum was riveting; I left with a whole new perspective and new ideas. I now have a better idea of how taxidermy works and what it can do to advance science. I also better understand how evolution works within species to adapt to its surroundings.

We, the Sophomores, in the Population class, have been studying how and why evolution happens. Specifically, we have been looking at evolution through natural selection. We have been observing different animals since our first unit, in which we chose an animal, observed it at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and learned about its taxonomy. For this unit, we were allowed to keep the same animal or branch out to another, but either way, we are to create a hypothetical situation that forces our animals to evolve. We went to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to explore how conservation leads to new discoveries at the Beecher Lab, see first hand the variations between the species at the museum, and how butterflies adapt to new surroundings. To learn more about taxidermy and how it helps science we spoke to Annamarie, a taxidermist at the museum!

Field Experience

Studying Motion and Design at On the Route Bikes

Juniors in the Design & Engineering class talked to a bike expert at On The Route Bicycles to learn about the mechanics of bikes and the purposes that different types of bikes serve. On The Route Bicycles is owned by a GCE parent and she strives to run the best bike shop and to do the best repairs in Chicago. In the second unit of this STEAM course, students have been pursuing the guiding question, How do wheels make the world spin?. In their pursuit of an answer, students have been studying the concepts of weight, speed, acceleration, velocity, and mass and their effects on simple machines such as the wheel, the axle, and the pulley.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is to investigate the guiding question, How do bicycles impact lives?. The students talked to experts to investigate the evolution of bikes and how they are put together so that they can then design a bike that suits a person’s specific needs.

How?

The students talked to bike shop owner and bike expert, Joanne about the parts that make up a bike, their purpose, and the choices designers make when choosing to use certain parts over others.

Field Experience

Physics in the Garden at Home Depot

Juniors in the Design & Engineering class talked to experts from the gardening department at Home Depot to investigate the physics of gardening tools. In the first unit of this STEAM course, students have been pursuing the guiding question, what lies at the heart of our fundamental drive to create tools?. In their pursuit of an answer, students have been investigating the angles, pressure, force, and leverage in a variety of tools that have forever changed our interactions with our surroundings.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is to investigate the guiding question, what makes an effective tool?. The students talked to experts to identify the differences between mediocre gardening tools and great gardening tools. Through this field research, students will gain insight into how to design their own quality gardening tool.

How?

The students talked to experts to understand how tools are used, the parts that make up the tools, and which tools are most effective and why.

Field Experience

Experiencing Visual Rhetoric at the Living Memorial in Marquette Park

Juniors in the Rhetoric class met with Alia Bilal from Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Living Memorial in Marquette Park. Students have been pursuing the guiding question, how do voices work to unite people, divide opinion, and transcend conflict? In the third unit of this Humanities course, students are asked to look at how rhetoric inspires and mobilizes?. The Action Project for Unit 3 asks students to create “an original artwork” that “speak[s] out on issues that receive little attention” and “inspires collective action.” In order to contextualize such a statement and experience it in person, we journeyed to Marquette Park to see the monument there to Dr. Martin Luther King’s protest march in 1966, known as the Living Memorial.

Field Experience

The Design Process @ Beyond Design

Juniors in the Design & Engineering class met with Michael Prince, the president of Beyond Design. In this STEAM course, students are investigating what it means to be a designer. Through this investigation, students have learned that being a designer is far more than conceptualizing and designing a new product. Being a designer requires empathy, compassion, patience, expertise, and a whole lot more. This was confirmed by our visit with Mr. Prince. He shared stories about the trials and tribulations of starting his own design firm. He stressed the importance of empathizing with his clients, working with a diverse team, and embracing the iterative nature of the design process.

It was a unique and eye-opening experience to get a behind-the-scenes look at a successful design firm.

Why?

This term we are studying design, and how to make things better. The purpose of this FE is to introduce the class to professional designers and to get them to think like designers.

How? 

Students talked to designer Michael Prince and toured Beyond Design to understand the work of a designer.

Field Experience

Forced From Home in Daley Plaza

The Sophomore Stories class and Senior Journalism class visited Forced From Home, an interactive exhibition presented by Doctors Without Borders to educate the public about the refugee crisis. GCE students engaged with stories and materials gathered from refugee camps, sea rescue missions, and emergency medical projects around the world to get closer to the real experiences of people displaced by violence and extreme hardship worldwide.

Why?

Students in Stories and Journalism are investigating how to effectively communicate through storytelling. Students were guided through the exhibit by experienced Doctors Without Borders aids who have seen firsthand the impact of the refugee crisis. The tour guides and components of the exhibit are tasked with sharing the experiences of the refugees in an impactful and responsible way. The students’ experience through this immersive exhibit gave them insight into the elements of effective and responsible storytelling.

How?

In preparation, students learned about the exhibit and its aim to address SDGs 10, 11, and 16.

Field Experience

Mastering Rhetoric with Troy LaRaviere

I first became interested in the work and activism of Troy LaRaviere from hearing and reading news reports (mostly on WBEZ and the Reader) about his refusal to implement educational policies mandated by the mayor and his surrogates in Chicago Public Schools. I found myself swayed by many of the arguments he put forth through those media and on his own personal blog, and I witnessed some of the results: good, as when his efforts helped uncover a corrupt contract for which CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett was imprisoned; bad, as when he was removed from his post as principal of Blaine Elementary in Lakeview.

Field Experience

Attending to Human Needs @ Lincoln Park Community Shelter

Unit I of SDGs & You is entitled Access, and it asks students to investigate the first, second, and fourth Sustainable Development Goals: No Poverty, No Hunger, and Quality Education (respectively). The students’ trip to Lincoln Park Community Shelter to prepare, serve, and eat a meal with the residents there gave them some first-hand experience with people in their community who know the challenges related to these goals quite intimately. This experience contributed primary research data to their first Action Project, which asks students to argue that a human need should be regarded as a human right.

Why?

Students will manage a budget for food, planning for a group of 25-30 residents (plus our class). We will create a plan for preparing the food in time for an 11:45 serving, after which we will eat with residents, sharing in both food and conversation. Finally, we will clean up the kitchen and common room of LPCS and reflect on our service.

How?

In preparation we are mapping some areas around the world most impacted by the challenges referred to in SDGs 1, 2, and 4. We have likewise used data from the City of Chicago’s data portal to turn the mirror back on the United States, asking ourselves where in our own communities we share similar struggles. Our meal service at LPCS will show us how, even in an area of Chicago well-known for its relative wealth and privilege, challenges regarding poverty and hunger still exist.

Field Experience

Carrying Water @ The Chicago River

Freshmen in the Water class visited the Chicago River to collect water. In the first unit of this STEAM course, students have been pursuing the guiding question, why is water so common yet so rare? . In their pursuit of an answer, students have been learning about the abundance of water found in living organisms while also investigating the scarcity of potable water that leaves millions of people without clean water on a daily basis.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is to investigate the guiding question, How can you get access to water in case of a shortage or crisis?. The students carried water to connect their water usage to worldwide water shortage.

How?

The students walked to a local public water source, the Chicago River to collect and transport water. At the end of the Field Experience, students measured the amount of water they collected and reflected on their daily water usage.

Field Experience

Endurance Bootcamp with Sensei Lavin

The Seniors in the Endurance class have been pursuing the guiding question, how much are you willing to endure to change the world?. In the first unit of this Humanities course, students are investigating endurance as demonstrated by well-known visionaries. Through this investigation, students will find inspiration to set goals and identify a mission for their own path. Furthermore, the students are asked to assess qualities that they possess that may help them achieve their mission. As a part of this self-assessment, the students must endure both physical and mental challenges. For this Field Experience, the Seniors were visited by Sensei Lavin who put their mental and physical endurance to the test.

 

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is for students to undergo “boot camp” that tested their endurance.

How?

Under the guidance of Sensei Lavin, the students participated in a series of exercises that pushed them to overcome mental blocks in order to defeat physical ones.

Field Experience

Investigating Organics at Uncommon Ground

Hello, I’m a Freshman at GCE Lab School. Recently, our class traveled to Uncommon Ground at their Devon St. location to see the first certified organic brewery in Illinois, and the first certified organic rooftop farm in the U.S.! Visiting Uncommon Ground was a unique and enlightening adventure; I personally had never seen an actual rooftop garden, let alone one that is certified organic! I now know a lot more about the regulations of being a company who is certified organic, and how difficult it is to maintain and sustain an organic organization.

We, the Freshmen, in the Food For Thought class have been examining the question of whether GMOs are truly beneficial to humans and the environment, and what ‘organic’ means and why it is in higher demand. In our second External Investigation of our Humanities course, we are investigating the industrialization of food and the sustainability of our current ideals for food. As a part of our investigation, we have been watching the documentaries Food Inc and reading In Defense of Food by Micheal Pollan. We took to Uncommon Ground to see what organic means and how Uncommon Ground could sustain itself in this harsh economy full of industrial and cheap food. We spoke to Brandon Kik, a farmer at Uncommon Ground, who gave us a tour of the rooftop and spoke to us about how and why they became the first organic rooftop farm in the U.S.

Why?

The purpose of the Field Experience was for us to see what an organic farm and company look like, to see if being an organic company is sustainable, and to learn about why companies put so much effort into becoming organic and how they do so.

How?

We took a tour of the Uncommon Ground rooftop farm and spoke to one of the farmers to get more insight on the whys and hows of becoming a certified organic farm, restaurant, and brewery.

— Reflection & photography by Gimena, Class of 2021

Field Experience

Urban Farming at Patchwork Farms

The Freshmen in the Food class have been pursuing the guiding question, what does a balanced ecosystem look like?. In the first External investigation of this STEAM course, students are investigating the types of organisms and the interactions between those organisms that are necessary in order to sustain a healthy ecosystem. As a part of this investigation, students are studying the importance of companion plants especially when sustaining a farm in a limited amount of space. To gain more insight into how farmers make the most of their space, the students visited Chicago Patchwork Farms, an urban farm in Humboldt Park. At the farm, the students learned more about the make-up of soil, worked with their hands, and even met a couple of cute farm dogs.

Why?

The purpose of this Field Experience is for the students to see an urban farm and to learn about what it takes to sustain one.

How?

The students will tour the space, ask questions, and do some actual work to learn firsthand about farming.

Field Experience

Urban Foraging with Odd Produce

Freshmen in the Food For Thought class have been investigating the guiding question, How are food systems shaped and how do they shape the world?. As a part of this investigation, the students have been studying the Agricultural Revolution which led the class to the question, What would it be like to return to humanity’s roots as foragers?. The students went on a foraging walking tour of the neighborhood surrounding GCE with Dave Gold from Odd Produce. The experience showed the students that there is food all around us, we just have to know what to look for.

Field Experience

From Bean to Cup @ Metropolis Coffee Company

Freshmen in the Food For Thought class went to Metropolis Coffee Company’s roastery to learn about the life of the Coffee plant. Students were welcomed into the state-of-the art roastery where they got a behind-the-scenes look at each step of the process. Metropolis is dedicated to serving a stellar cup of coffee, but what’s even more important to them is respect. Respect is at the core of the company’s philosophy; from farmers to consumers. It was an eye-opening lesson on the impact of coffee and the effort it takes to be a responsible part of the production chain.