THINC’s project-based learning students learn a new language

Published 9:19 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2018

When Sue Forrest’s Spanish I and II students at THINC College & Career Academy wrote books for the English as a second language students at Ethel W. Kight Elementary School, a teacher asked if the class could one day visit THINC. Last week, her 24 students made that visit a reality as they fulfilled a Project Based Learning assignment through the Bilingual Tour Project.  

“When we saw the need for this PBL, my students came up with the idea of the Bilingual Tour. They translated the tour dialogue into Spanish. This way, they would be able to conduct the tour in the language that is familiar with the ESOL students at Ethel Kight,” Forrest said. 

“My goal is to make them (her students) more fluent in the language. According to the written standards, the students must speak and give information in Spanish. When they accomplish this they will show mastery of the topic and achieve the goal.”

The THINC students spent countless hours of preparation time researching the tour route, writing information about THINC teachers who were to be a part of the tour, writing dialogue in English and translating dialogue into Spanish.  

On tour day, when the 13 elementary students entered the facility, they were in awe of the layout as they talked about the colorfully-painted walls and smell of cookies coming from The Spark Café. The tour began in the marketing lab then went to the English classroom and over to mechatronics. 

Marbel Solis Lopez, fifth grade EKES student, was eager to enter the Mechatronics lab where the young learners were greeted by Mr. Tinker, the resident THINC robot. Mr. Tinker waved to the group and spoke Spanish. The students excitedly waved back to the robot before asking questions about programming and how it spoke to them in Spanish. 

The tour ventured up to the healthcare lab where Allison Hernandez, fourth grade student at EKES, was initially timid around the life-size mannequin patient simulators. She soon warmed up to them and touched a child-size and elderly mannequin to experience what they felt like. 

“This was really fun. THINC is nice and the tour guides really tried hard to speak Spanish,” Lopez said. 

“They did good and they answered my questions. My favorite part was when the robot waved and started talking to me in my language.”

While Forrest and the students enjoyed showing around the student guests, she is thrilled to see her students adapt to a language that is not their native tongue. 

“Something of this magnitude will guide my students into the future because now they are not afraid to translate something and follow through speaking it,” Forrest said. 

“This gives them more self-assurance, more confidence, and better communication skills.”