MC2 STEM High School has fabrication laboratories ("fab labs") where students learn to use advanced equipment such as the "shop-bot" that they can use for their interdisciplinary project-based-learning assignments.
The MC2 STEM curriculum was designed to meet three important criteria:
aligned with Ohio Academic Content Standards
connected to higher-education courses
relevant and responsive to industry needs
Five tips for transdisciplinary project-based learning:
Partner with businesses and other organizations to incorporate state standards used in their work.
Choose topics that reflect current industry needs or relevant issues.
Base projects directly on state benchmarks as well as career-readiness standards for engineering and technology.
Design projects organized around a theme that incorporates multiple subject areas.
Allow flexible schedules so projects can be planned and executed collaboratively across subject areas.
What is Transdisciplinary Project-Based Learning?
To meet these objectives, the curriculum was mandated to be transdisciplinary -- meaning across academic subjects as well as across school and nonschool settings (e.g., internships (PDF)) -- and was developed by work groups that included representatives from STEM-related industries, postsecondary education, and preK-12 education.
The PBL instruction (PDF) at MC2 STEM is built on rigorous ten-week projects called capstones (PDF). Though the focus is STEM, the capstones integrate all core subjects required by Ohio's state standards. Each capstone is organized around a theme, such as light, and covers topics mapped to state benchmarks. They are broken into transdisciplinary units, each of which has a rubric (PDF) and one to two student deliverables for assessment. Units in the capstone about light cover concepts including fractals, electric circuitry, human biology, and principles of design. Rubrics are transparent to the students as well so that they know exactly what is required for mastery (PDF).
Importantly, all capstones have real-world relevance (PDF). They focus on themes related to energy and sustainability, and are timely, based on current issues that the STEM industry is facing. Some project deliverables are put into actual use in the community as well, such as last year's project in which snow flakes with designs based on fractal geometry were hung downtown.