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Everyone learns differently, so Meridiana goes beyond the classroom engaging all the senses with a series of Learning Labs that take classroom curricula out into the field with hands-on experiences. Through a coordinated effort with Alvin schools the Learning Labs are an experience unto themselves. So far it gets an A, and there are many more labs to come.
The iconic 60-foot tower is not just a sculpture, it’s a sophisticated sundial that works with the Sky Map (part two of this learning lab) to show how the sun moves across the sky, based on the time of day and time of year by the shadow that it casts. Meridiana partnered with Dan Lester, Ph. D. of University of Texas, McDonald Observatory to get it right.
The name Meridiana is derived from the meridian, an imaginary longitudinal line that circles the earth from one pole to another and back. Defining, among other things, the time of day and international date lines.
It looks suspiciously like a playground but it’s actually an outdoor classroom. That doesn’t mean learning can’t be fun. Named for the Italian astronomer/natural philosopher Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) who is considered the father of science, this Lab reminds you that the answers are in the stars. A planetarium maps the constellations, sextants show how early explorers navigated by the stars, and telescopes keep your eye on the sky. Just to name a few experiments.
Galileo's observations confirmed the writings of Copernicus, that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around.
Meridian Tower sits at the center of a map (in the center of the Oasis Village) that tells you the time day and date based on its shadow. The Sky Map is what it casts its shadow upon. And it marks key dates, showing the sun’s movement from horizon to horizon throughout the year. In fact, Sky Map doesn’t stop at the end of the tower’s shadow. The walkways radiating from the tower align perfectly with sunrise and sunset during the winter and summer solstices, as well as the equinox.
Meridiana Elementary is located directly out from the summer solstice sunset line that starts at the Tower. You may draw your own conclusions as to whether this is any symbolism or merely coincidence.
When you emphasize learning in every aspect of community life, that momentum is carried right back into the classroom. Into the acclaimed Alvin Independent Schools. And especially into the new Meridiana Elementary, where the school Principal and Meridiana’s Lifestyle Coordinator work together to ensure nary a teachable moment is missed.