brightworks is a view into the future of education for all kids. today i watched 7 and 8 year-olds present solar ovens that they built themselves. they explained how the sun's rays reflect off a parabolic mirror, citing angle of incidence and ideas on insulation. the ovens cooked cupcakes, cookies and toasted marshmallows. 10 year olds described parabolic math, how they built their reflecting telescope, and what they learned from experts on memory mansions, african braiding, and creating busts out of clay. kids performed plays, built games, made movies, conducted interviews, used lasers, mirrors and rats (unharmed) to test theories. their projects didn't always work, but they all succeeded with huge glows on their faces and proud of their experiments successes and failures. when i see the exposition night presentations, and i am left in awe of these young inventors and scientists and writers and artists and curious minds and what they are able to accomplish. all kids should have their curiosity encouraged in this way.
I think my son will consider entering Brightworks as a major highpoint of his childhood. We sadly had to remove our 12 y.o. son from a horrible S.F. public school but now he is absolutely thriving at Brightworks. My kid is very bright and he loves the challenges that this school offers. He marvels that he can leave his stuff on a table and it isn't stolen. He lives for community lunch on Fridays. He appreciates the tolerant atmosphere and feels safe at BW. My son says, "This is a school for misfits and geeks." and that is a high complement. I see only one way for this school to improve and that's if they could find a way to increase diversity. Attending a school that is 99% white is very disconcerting and weird considering the diversity of SF and California in general.
This school offers a unique learning process through "arcs" that establish an overarching theme through which students pick a project that ties into the theme, get approval and then start working on it - student driven, teacher/staff support, guidance and feedback along the way. This approach builds confidence and engagement in a way I didn't think possible as a parent, I have to admit I was a little skeptical... But amazed and surprised as I saw my daughter who is in the 6th grade and recently moved back from NYC where she had a horrible school experience that seemed to completely turn her off school and learning, re-engaged and literally blossoming as an excited, interested, happy kid again. With this unique approach the school is able to intertwine grade level work with projects that push their abilities and instill confidence, using mediums that are agreed upon when project approval happens that can range from computers to power tools. The whole learning process is well thought out and a unique approach that really works. Teachers and staff are interesting, engaged and kind, they really love the kids. the opportunities for growth are modern and relevant. We LOVE this school!