"Prometheus Shift 365" is named after the Greek God Prometheus. According to the Greek legend, Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus to save mankind. The ancient symbol of fire represents wisdom and knowledge.
"Prometheus Shift 365" is the name of an ambitious initiative King George Secondary has undertaken this year. In simple terms the "Shift" challenges students and staff at the school to live their lives a little differently each day, both physically and mentally. Their kick off to this shift in culture however was not at all small . . .
On April 13, the students took their innovative "Prometheus Shift 365" to the streets with a "Great Race" around the sculptures of the Vancouver Biennale.
During the race seven teams made up of five students "raced" between the public art sculptures and navigated a series of challenges related to real world issues ranging from relationships, to sustainability and multiculturalism.
The sculptures were used as a departure point for the students to discover solutions to multi-disciplinary challenges. For example, at Vanier Park the teams examined Chinese artist Jun Ren's sculpture "Freezing Water #7." This large-scale sculpture, which looks like a water droplet magnified thousands of times, inspired one of King Georges' science teachers to design an experiment on gravity that teams worked together to solve.
Between sites, teachers kept the pace of the student's mental endurance high with regular quizzes. The quizzes were not simply questions, but challenges that reflected the collaboration of each of the departments at King George Secondary.
Prior to the launch, students and staff involved in the Great Race benefited from Mindfulness training, a tool that helps students manage emotions and stay centered while being challenged throughout the race - responding rather than reacting. They also learned how to participate in diverse groups, with differences such as gender, culture, age, and rank.
To keep the whole school involved, all students at King George were divided into seven teams within their first block. Students wore colored arm bans distinguishing their allegiance throughout the day.
Vice-principal Damian Willman said: "Throughout the day, each class at King George was given 'Global Challenges' to solve within their classroom. Points for correct solutions were added to the racing team's tally." Teams in the field also made regular calls back to their home class to ask for their peer's assistance in answering questions.
The inspiration for Prometheus Shift 365 came from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) documentary, Brain Gains. The documentary explored a direct link between student academic achievement in school and the amount of daily physical activity that is achieved.
With the spotlight on the 2010 Winter Olympics, discussions occurred at King George on the notion of challenging the entire school community, including its family of schools (Lord Roberts, Lord Roberts Annex and Elsie Roy elementary schools) to adopt a new culture of fitness and activity.
What is next for the Prometheus Shift 365?
- A website called "Prometheus Shift 365" was launched on race day. The aim of the site is to build an authentic community that supports and celebrates a culture of wellness. The students have started to call the site "Facebook with a purpose." The site is a collaborative project between King George's Visual Art Department and King George's unique Technology Immersion Mini School. Support from community partners, Agentic Communications, Good Energy and ENZ.Net helped lift the site to a standard of excellence.
- A series of daily physical activities for staff and students is occurring throughout King George. This series currently involves before and after school activities (The Morning Shift and The Afternoon Shift) as well as encouragement/ challenges (via website) to students and staff to walk, ride, run, roller blade, or skateboard to work as part of their daily activity.
- Students from King George Secondary School and its family of schools, Elsie Roy and Lord Roberts elementary schools, in partnership with the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Center, have formed mentorships with a diverse team of artists. This has enabled students to create collaborative multi-media documentation of student activity that explores the connections between their physical bodies, identity, and community. Artists include Josh Hite: multimedia artist (transforming movement into visual art) and Kristen Roos: audio artist (developing podcasts of physical activity/place). Within this project, senior students at King George Secondary were given skills to act as youth mentors for the junior grades at King George and for the family of schools. The project will culminate in a massive exhibition and celebration for students and their families at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre on May 6th, 2010.
Community partners involved in Prometheus Shift 365 include:
- Agentic Communications
- Good Energy
- The Hawn Foundation
- The Vancouver Art Gallery
- The Vancouver Biennale
- The Vancouver School Board
- The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Center
- The West End Community and Recreation Center
- Simon Fraser University