Each spring at NMS, the Elementary Expo presents a culmination of research projects created by students in first through sixth grade. The students prepare for weeks in advance—choosing a topic of interest, asking strong questions, researching to gain understanding, and finally creating a poster board that displays their findings, often with a 3D model, slideshow, or other supplement. The process, driven by individual students’ curiosity and hands-on learning, fits naturally in the context of Montessori philosophy.
Elementary teachers and parents see the preparation and concentration leading up to the Expo, so they have some idea of what to expect during the final presentations. But if you are an Expo visitor viewing the final projects for the first time, you might feel that somehow you haven’t missed a bit of the Montessori learning process—in fact, it’s still going.
Begin to look around, and you see titles such as:
“Who is Jane Goodall, Acclaimed Primatologist?”
“Top 10 Harmful Ingredients in Kids Snacks”
“How Computers Work”
“If I Sleep More, Do I Think Faster?”
After a quick survey of the various topics studied, you see the most amazing part. There’s a buzz of activity throughout four classrooms and the hallway connecting them, with children talking animatedly and moving freely. It might sound like a recipe for chaos in a traditional educational setting, but somehow, here, wherever you tune in, the language is focused on the work. Children see your conversation through to the end no matter what other sounds or movements surround them. This vibrant, yet focused activity and discussion is the ideal state of a normalized Montessori classroom.
Students are eager to talk about what they've learned, especially since their topics relate to a favorite personal interest. In the following video, a second grader connects his love of football with math, measuring angles for the “perfect punt” and graphing out the parabolas.
“The Perfect Punt”
Passing through each classroom, you find investigators of artificial intelligence, activists for endangered species, weather analysts, and amateur experts on the stock market, classic literature, cerebral palsy, the human heart…
After presenting, one child reflected, “I really like to research, because I learn new things and it makes my brain grow.”
Those words, heard over the steady hum of conversation in a Montessori classroom, are the sounds of lifelong learners—just getting started.