Project learning encourages students to explore real-world challenges while developing cross-curriculum skills in small collaborative groups. Edutopia has visited many schools that have implemented project-based learning programs -- here are some of the best examples across the country. Dig in and get ideas for how you can implement changes in your school today.
GRADE LEVEL: HIGH SCHOOL
San Diego, California
Students at the textbook-free school tackle projects like building a fish pen and helping local wildlife-protection officials fight poaching.
In the muddy Vermont woods, a former farmland serves as classroom for students who spend part of every week outdoors through the fall, bitter winter, and spring.
Aviation and aerospace are the focus of design projects at this engineering-based program.
Big Island, Hawaii
Students learn about marine science by restoring ancient, sediment-choked ponds.
A PBL school since its launch in 1996, New Tech teachers build their instruction around eight Learning Outcomes -- content standards, collaboration, critical thinking, oral communication, written communication, career preparation, citizenship and ethics, and technology literacy.
GRADE LEVEL: MIDDLE SCHOOL
Besides incorporating such subjects as art, science, and language arts, the projects include well-considered use of computer technology, which has been enhanced by the decision of the state to provide all Maine seventh and eighth graders with iBook laptop computers. They have also adopted the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound model of personalized, project-based learning.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Middle school students follow a climber's journey up Mount Everest via satellite Internet while they engage in related activities in the classroom.
GRADE LEVEL: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Fifth-grade students learn how to build an efficient waterwheel.
Fourth-grade students dig around outdoors to learn about animal habitats through the nationwide NatureMapping program.
Students decide what projects to tackle -- whether it's building an airplane, a cruise ship or conducting a funeral for the class praying mantis.
GRADE LEVEL: K-12
Kids invent their own projects by conducting research with computers, raising funds for classroom tools, and involving themselves in community initiatives.
Fort Collins, Colorado
A Colorado State University program takes fun and fizzy physics demonstrations -- like generating heat and cold and creating fog -- to K-12 classrooms across the district.