Current Issue Back Issues Cards
Issue 14, Fall 2015
Click here to have this issue shipped directly to you.

Thank You Tiger! My Teacher Wake-Up Call,
   John Paull
Breadth And Depth: Can We Have It Both Ways?,
   Jal Mehta
Other People’s Children Are My Children,
   Michelle Sadrena Clark
When Exhibition Might Not Be Enough,
   Wesley Davidson
Choosing Sean,
   Patrick Yurick
Writing “Downtown”: Bringing Student Voice Into Writing Instruction,
   Sheldon C. Krieger
Creativity Is A Decision Anyone Can Make,
   Robert J. Sternberg
Every Classroom Should Be A Maker Space,
   Randy Scherer


1: Colonies, Clusters, and Classrooms?
2: Roland Barthes’ Mythologies
3: The Lantern Project
4: The Wicked Soap Company
5: Wat_er We Doing? A California Drought Story
6: Portraits of Resilience
7: Best Project of All Time
8: 3D Printed Timeline
9: You Say You Want a Revolution?
10: Superheroes Unite!
11: Staircases to Nowhere
12: Who Walks Here: The Journey of Our People and Our Land
13: The Bee Project

Staircases to Nowhere

download pdf

Seniors used physics, art, and carpentry to plan and build model and life-sized staircases of their own designs. First students designed 1:10 scale model staircases alone or with a partner. They had to find some mathematical equation or pattern that modeled something about their staircase and show it in a poster. In the next phase of the project, students designed 1:5 model staircases, which they had to carefully plan and execute. The larger size required them to be more detail-oriented in their designs. In the final stage of the project, students worked in groups to build 1:1 life scale staircases around the school. The four full stairway installations will be permanent and must hold up to significant human teenage wear and tear. The 1:1 staircases required teamwork as well as design, engineering, physics, and carpentry skills.

Teacher Reflection
The scale models, the one-to-ten, were basically whimsy and play. In the one-to-five, students were thinking about structure and how to build these things. The full sized ones were practical and buildable. They all lent different things to the creative process of the students. In the first staircase they learned that play is important to design. In the second, they learned that planning is important to creating something. In the third one, they learned that collaboration is critical to doing something bigger than yourself.

Student Reflections
I learned that it takes an immense amount of planning to produce things in the real world. You can’t just B.S. something that you want to look nice. —Sophie

It requires stepping out of your comfort zone and realizing that you have to put forth a team effort, that everyone does work. Sometimes it’s work you don’t really want to do, but you do it anyway. —Czarina

To learn more about this project, please visit: