Representative Otten Visits BW
Downingtown, PA – Earlier this month, Brandywine Wallace fourth graders were treated to a special visitor; State Representative Danielle Friel Otten stopped by to learn about the district’s mobile innovation lab and to engage students in a dialogue about how they can make a difference in their communities.
Fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Moghaddam originally had the idea to invite Representative Otten when the class began studying the government on a national, state and local level. She noted, “On November 8, we will spend the day in Harrisburg touring the State House. I invited Representative Otten to visit the fourth grade so the students could meet our State Representative and learn about how she helps our local community on the state level.”
Representative Otten’s first stop was the district’s Mobile Innovation Lab. The converted school bus is a state-of-the-art STEAM mobile classroom that travels to each of Downingtown Area School District’s (DASD) ten elementary schools. A project of the Downingtown Community Education Foundation, the Mobile Lab offers students throughout the district the opportunity to interact with advanced technologies and participate in unique educational experiences. Using a Makey Makey closed circuit kit, the Representative helped students build a game control and then play Pac-Man. Students then learned some of the fundamentals of electrical conduction and reflected on their teamwork abilities.
Next, Representative Otten visited fourth-grade social studies students. Students have been learning about their local legislators and how a bill becomes a law. Otten, who has a kindergartner in the district, asked students questions about what it means to protect the health and safety of their communities and how students can make a difference. She shared the story of how she became a legislator, and encouraged students to take ownership in making positive changes in their communities. Students offered suggestions for change, including planting trees, recycling, banning wars, using composters and using metal straws. Students became especially engaged when the Representative used her proposed recess bill as a way to walk students through the steps it takes to create a law. Student volunteers discussed the pros and cons of increased recess time and the room took a vote.
Moghaddam highlighted the significance of Representative Otten’s visit. “It’s important for my students to hear from local legislators so they know that they can be agents of change in their community even though they can’t legally vote. We study how bills are introduced and become laws, so having Representative Otten talk to us about a bill she has introduced and how it directly affects them as students is a ‘real life’ example of what we have been learning in class.”