Project Learning

Project Learning

 

Many of our Primary School parents visited our school last week to take part in Project Day. I was among the large crowd of visitors going from poster to poster on Friday, taking in the amazing depth and breadth of the projects presented, and soaking up the infectious enthusiasm of our young researchers who were so keen to share their findings with visitors.

From an educational standpoint, it is difficult to overstate the importance of this type of learning. In a departure from a traditional form of assessment that directly probes a learner’s mastery of content in a question-answer format, project-based learning is much broader, and more closely aligned to a learner’s own interests. It combines a complex set of ‘real-world’ skills, such as teamwork, research, problem definition, data analysis, solution-focused synthesis, and multi-media communication with an audience.

This year, our students were required to select and define their overall project theme within a small team. In Upper Primary, Grade 5 project themes included goals selected from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/ ), such as poverty, pollution, health, even quality education. In Grade 4, our students had previously created a ‘biodome’ for life on Mars during their Ecosystems unit. For Project Day, students had to apply their Guided Discovery learning about electricity, solar power, and magnetism to create a life-enhancing artefact for their ‘biodome’. Each team had to agree to narrow the focus of their research to a particular area of need, gather data about that need from a range of sources, formulate solutions, and finally design and present their solutions in the form of a poster and associated artefacts; all of this work was undertaken bilingually. In Upper Primary, some students were required to apply at least one form of computer coding in the construction of their final presentation.

For me, when reviewing the wonderful learning embedded in each poster and each presentation, the thing that left the deepest impression was the fact that we had the privilege of seeing the world and its problems from a young learner’s perspective. These projects were about their world, not the adult world as presented to our students through text books and other resources: this was about their own interpretation of scientific and technological ideas, such as sustainability.

In an age when examination-driven academic performance pressures pose challenges for the entire community, the highly memorable and experiential learning associated with Project Day stands out as an example of an alternative pathway to success in education.

 

 

solar Panel at The ISF Academy

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