Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Alpha Car Wash Makes a Splash!

by Raffi Darrow, Ebytes Editor
The Experiential School of Tampa Bay engages its students in curriculum that cultivates natural curiosity to promote growth through play, inquiry, exploration, observation and project-based learning. 

In this Reggio Emilia-inspired approach, teachers observe and document children's work and play, looking at how children think and learn and how ideas evolve. Curricular planning decisions can then be made based on what individual or groups of children have found interesting, stimulating, or challenging. 

Alpha Teachers Taylor Styke and Jacqueline Roller in The Experiential School of Tampa Bay noticed their students had been playing car wash on the playground. The teachers then led the students through conversations of what they knew about car washes and what they wanted to learn. Next the class built car washes for toy cars with Magna-Tiles®, blocks, and other various building materials. The teachers suggested families drive their real cars through real car washes with their children to see them in action.

Eventually it came time for the Alpha class to have their own car wash! They brainstormed materials they would need to have a car wash on campus. With bubbles, sponges, spray bottles, swimsuits and more the young Chargers scrubbed ride-on cars and bikes until they sparkled in the Florida sun! 

This is a perfect example of what Shorecrest refers to as “emergent curriculum.” The curriculum for the classroom is not completely planned in advance of the school year, but rather “emerges” based on the children’s specific interests, their families’ communication, a collaborative environment that can help foster growth, and the close observation and notes teachers take on their students’ growth and exploration. 

Later the class built a car wash using blocks on the carpet. Using wooden vehicles tied to strings, students "drove" their vehicles through the car wash. And you can see their preschool-sized car wash made from streamers and cardboard in the exploratorium.

Finally, the group took a field trip at Woodie's Wash Shack. They were welcomed with a tour, received a goodie bag, and got to walk through the car wash tunnel! Thank you to Shorecrest parent Don Phillips and Charger alumnus Jake DeGeare '15 for helping to arrange this fun, memorable day. The students absolutely loved it!

Shorecrest Alpha students had so much fun throughout their car wash unit - a light-hearted example of child-driven and memorable learning. 

Find more photos from the Alpha Car Wash unit here.

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191

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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.