Carnegie Mellon University

Children's School

November 21, 2016

Children's School Hosts Inquiry-Based Learning Session

Earlier this month, Carnegie Mellon University’s Children's School hosted educators for "Inquiry Learning and Loose Parts," an evening of networking and sharing of teaching methods. Approximately 70 attendees discussed classroom investigations and demonstrated creative uses of materials, from super bubbles and worm habitats, to glow-in-the-dark beads and cardboard cities.

It was the second event of the newly formed Pittsburgh Alliance of University Schools (PAUS). PAUS is a collaborative effort made up of The Campus School of Carlow University, The Children's School, The Cyert Center for Early Education, Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School and University Child Development Center, which are all located in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood. Nearly 250 educators in preschool through eighth grade participate in PAUS.

"The group felt a strong desire to organize and create more opportunities for networking and promoting an exchange of ideas outside the sphere of their classrooms," said Sharon Carver, director of The Children's School.

The educators browsed many stations on the theme of inquiry-based learning in The Children's School. Each station presented a classroom activity and materials for experimenting. Handouts equipped educators with the theories and methods behind the activities as well as information on obtaining supplies. The Children's School entertained guests with a taco bar, sorbet, cookies and beverages.

"I left re-energized as an educator and excited about the collaboration and reconnection between all of the centers in this way," said Suzanne Grove, a studio educator at the Cyert Center.

In its inaugural year, PAUS plans to run a series of five events, hosted at each of the participating schools. The Cyert Center hosted the first event focused on building a community within schools in October. The Falk Laboratory School will host the next meeting on the topic of mindfulness in February.

"I'm excited about sharing ideas. It's part of the nature of what we do, just as we want children to share and learn from each other," said Leslie McMeans, an early childhood educator at the Cyert Center.

Founded in 1968, CMU's Children's School is a laboratory school that focuses on hands-on, developmentally appropriate learning for children between the ages of 3 and 5. The school is part of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences' Department of Psychology and enables the university to sustain a world-class level of child development research.

By Ann Lyon Ritchie

Pictured above: Sabrina Coborn, from the University Child Development Center, tests out classroom bubble activities with other PAUS educators. The recipe for Super Soap Solution was one of many methods shared.