On the evening of Monday, March 19, sixth grade scholars presented their learning from a new McAuliffe learning expedition, “Born to Run.”  In this new expedition, scholars researched the impact of running on the human body, considered the impact of different technologies on running, and discovered how body systems interact to make humans efficient runners. The expedition focused on the following guiding questions: If we are “born to run,” why are runners so easily injured? How do systems in my body work together when I run?

At their culminating event, scholars presented their learning to family members and guests who had an opportunity to observe a socratic seminar during which scholars discussed the benefits of barefoot running, running with traditional sneakers, and running with prosthetic limbs. Scholars also showcased projects from the expedition including healthy diet plans, audio postcards, and safe and effective couch to 5K training plans.

Cameron Burke, McAuliffe Alumnus Class of 2005, and current member of our Board of Trustees shared the following about the event: “I was incredibly impressed by the group of young scholars leading the Socratic Seminar discussing the debate on barefoot running vs. traditional sneakers, and health risks/benefits. They  not only used a wide breadth of evidence to support their own claims, but also engaged in thoughtful discourse around the claims of their peers. At times perspectives differed and at times they aligned, but scholars remained focused, inquisitive, and wonderfully respectful of one another from start to finish. It was a beautiful representation of McAuliffe ideals, to see how amazing it can be when character, culture, and academic excellence are all in play.”

“Born to Run” is an example of a brand new expedition designed by McAuliffe science teachers, their coach, Christina Morello, and our Director of Teaching and Learning, Nellie Zupancic. Wellness teacher, Ed Crowley served as a resident running “expert”. Teachers designed this new expedition as part of a robust science curriculum overhaul that we’re in the midst of as we align curriculum with the recently updated Massachusetts science standards. Following the first run of this expedition (no pun intended) teachers are engaging in a thorough review of the curriculum in order to identify ways to improve the expedition the next year. Students also participate in a debrief in order to give their feedback about what they enjoyed and what could be improved.

Mary R. McAuliffe Scholar Class of 2020 had this to say about the event: “My favorite part of the night was presenting in the Socratic Seminar to my parents.  My peers and I had prepared for the debate by collecting evidence from articles and videos.  I enjoyed expressing my idea that barefoot running is better for humans. My group used a “fire-seat” where the audience could participate in the Socratic Seminar.   It was fun to hear the parents’ ideas and to try to answer their questions.”

Meanwhile, if you have any specific feedback, ideas for improvement, or connections to professionals who could serve as experts in this expedition in the future, please contact Christina Morello at cmorello@mcauliffecharter.org.