Principia teachers never rest in their quest to make learning more engaging—from bringing outer space to the Lower School gymnasium to trekking across Principia’s 365-acre campus, they constantly find ways to immerse their students in the curriculum. Third-grade teacher Sierra (Hussey) Farson (US'14, C'18) is no different.
This year, Farson and her team challenged themselves to bring economics to life. “We went back to the drawing board to see how we could make it more engaging,” she recounts. The team’s brainstorming led them to an unexpected collaboration with Principia’s smallest residents. “We landed on the idea of selling honey,” says Farson, pulling inspiration from Principia’s very own bee hives. But the idea expanded far beyond a simple honey booth.
Soon, the third-grade classroom itself was abuzz with activity, with different committees—including sales, budget, sustainable bee research, outreach, and market research—allowing students to take an active role in their learning. From harvesting the honey to marketing and selling it at the Lower School’s annual Fall Festival, the students took the reins. The project was a microcosm of the entrepreneurship classes taught in Middle and Upper School. “They did so much of the project independently because they were so curious and involved,” says Farson. “I was pretty hands-off.”
This excitement of learning not only made their honey booth a success—making over $400 in profit—but broadened their understanding of living sustainably in a world shared with nature. Students made sure not to overdraft on honey harvesting, as they had learned through research that bees need their own stock of honey to survive the winter. They also learned that bee colonies thrive with more hives. To support the health of Principia’s bee colony, the class donated their earnings to the purchase and upkeep of a third hive.
“They’re still talking about the project,” says Farson. “Learning really sticks when the students get to do it themselves. When learning is fun, they’re excited to come to school and they’re more engaged.”