Project-based learning may seem like just another education buzzword. Every single thing we do in life may appear as a project. Publications, communication plans, and more, boil down to projects. Even things we do in our homes. Part of this process is breaking things down into chunks and working through them along some timeline.
What about in school? Where do we learn these skills? Students appear to be working on a lot of projects, displays, etc., but what really prepares us to complete projects in the real world? These are skills that today seem only applicable in the workforce. What happens in schools tends to be more time filler and not always something relevant or even intentional to a real-world problem. What if students of all ages were allowed the opportunity explore and discover? Remember, not all learning or discovery is earth-shattering innovation. It may just be an individual experiencing something for the first time.
Students at Raisbeck Aviation High School provide just one example of how students are being engaged in authentic and meaningful explorations. Students in this scenario are learning about the math and physics behind airfoil designs. Throughout the year, they explore, design, and test airfoil designs, documenting evidence for why one design is superior to another, followed by a recommendation for what they feel is the best design to meet the pre-determined specifications. They may not necessarily be creating the next generation of airfoils for the airline industry, but they are putting their skills and knowledge to the ultimate test.
In a real work environment, this is exactly how it works. There isn’t always going to be someone standing next to you explaining the next move and why. Individuals and groups must document their processes for exploring a particular problem and be able to explain what worked and what didn’t along the way.
What are some shifts you make in your classroom to provide a more authentic learning environment for your students? What ways do you turn those ‘projects’ into meaningful explorations?
Interested in hearing more about project-based learning from students in the aviation program? Read the original post from Getting Smart and listen to the podcast.
Original Post – Project-based Learning Connects Real World with Deep Impact