Project Based Learning Takes Hands-On Up a Notch.

Project Based Learning Takes Hands-On Up a Notch.

After years of focusing on testing students, a different method of learning is on the rise.
It ‘ s called project based learning. And for Erie, Kansas high school students, where personalized learning started as far back as 2004, it’s a program that has them loving what they do at school.

Junior Cameron Sprague worked on wiring a music speaker. His project based learning focus is something he picked.
Sprague said, “I like this better than I like normal classes, because I get to learn about what I want and i learn how I want to learn instead of being in a classroom and being lectured.”

Project based learning coordinator Kellie Woolf explained, ” It ‘ s hard for a student to not want to look up all the answers here (shows her phone) cause they’re available to all of us at any given moment. And so our model is that we need to make learning relevant so that it gives them a reason to keep digging for that information. And so one of the very first questions we ask students when they come in here is, what do you love? What are you passionate about? ”

A teacher sat side by side with a student for a wiring project. Students spend six weeks on a wide variety projects like raising tilapia or creating a stop motion movie. They ‘ ll perform skits, plays, create paintings or sculptures. It ‘ s a combined classroom with three teachers. One for English, one for Social Studies and one in Science. Students propose an idea for a project. And hav to include what specific learning standards will be met. They are questioned on those after their presentation. Fischer Simoncic, a freshman used origami to create mock versions of atomic bombs. He said, “It taught me exactly how the atomic bombs worked and how nuclear fission worked. It taught me why, the history of why the atomic bombs were dropped and not some other solution.”

Students say they take responsibility for themselves and it simply makes learning easier. Kandi Phelan, a sophomore said, “I learn better when I ‘ m interested in something. And I learn better when I can do my own research and I can figure it out for myself. “

Students created the pop bottle greenhouse. And a composter. Both were environmental science projects. The school has gotten grants but teacher often share supplies.
“And very creative ways of getting those, ” said Woolf. ” We’ll sort of advertise, ‘ Hey we’re looking for tires on facebook. Or we’re looking for pallet wood. ‘ “
Tools, that when in the hands of students, lead to learning.
Students have also planted a vineyard with help from a ten thousand dollar U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops grant.
The money will also allow for fruit trees, vegetables and bee hives for future project based learning experiences.