School News

Middle School Students Conduct Exit Polling on Election Day

Studying the workings of government at Maharishi Middle School this week involved more "roll up your sleeves" work than a usual textbook course of study. Maharishi Middle School students did exit polling at all of Fairfield's five wards and Libertyville on this last Tuesday's November 4 election day. They asked questions about the gubernatorial and the US Senate races and whether people voted to retain the Iowa Supreme Court Judges.

The purpose of the project-based learning activity was to interact with the structure of the election process in Fairfield, Iowa, and the United States. Students learned about different voting models, the concept of representational democracy, the three branches of government in the United States, sampling, and gerrymandering.

The elections project was a continuation of the project-based education program at Maharishi Middle School where students do authentic, real-world work. Part of their "real work" was to contact the Fairfield Police and the Jefferson County Auditor to learn the rules about exit polling.

"The ward captain came out and told us to move 300 feet away. But we told them that we were allowed to be 15 feet away. They called the auditor and confirmed the rules," said Lucianna Miller, a 7th grade student.

"People were very passionate and protective of their right to vote, but they were also very kind and wanted to help the students with their project," said middle school teacher Richard Incorvia.

Now that the election results are in, students will analyze and compare their polling data to actual results. As in the world beyond the classroom, students will employ a wide range of interlocking skills to prepare and present the results of their analysis: knowledge of politics and government, mathematical analysis, statistics and graphing, and communication and technology skills. Such are the diverse skills needed to successfully engage in the adult world, and such are the skills introduced and utilized in the project-based classroom at Maharishi Middle School.

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