George Lucas Educational Foundation

Schools That Work| Case Study

Casco Bay High School And King Middle School

Grades 6-8 | Portland, ME

Project-Based Learning in Maine

Two schools in Maine are transforming the learning process with technology-infused projects that benefit the community and promote high academic achievement.
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

What This School Is Achieving


Casco Bay was the first new high school in Portland in 150 years when it opened in 2005. The timing was serendipitous. When Casco Bay opened, it received a grant to purchase used laptops that had been returned by middle schools, such as Helen King Middle School, a few miles away.

Casco Bay benefited from more than King Middle School's hand-me-down computers. The high school was designed around a variation on project-based learning that King helped pioneer. It's called expeditionary learning, and it builds on the collaborative, interdisciplinary approach of project learning, then extends the effort out of the classroom into the community. 

How They Do It

Anatomy of a Project: Kinetic Conundrum

Anatomy of a Project: "Kinetic Conundrum"

Art, history, engineering, language arts, and technology, both old and new, come together for eighth grade students in this rich project learning expedition at King Middle School in Portland, Maine.

2 85 20,847 views
Student sitting on the floor working on his laptop

Free Resources and Downloads for Project Learning

Educators from Maine have shared details about their administration, school culture, professional development, and curriculum -- materials you may adapt for your class, school, or school district.

3 84 39,616 views

10 Big Ideas of School Leadership

Middle school principal Mike McCarthy shares 30 years of wisdom on how to run a school well.

41 968 63,513 views
Boy and girl recording voice on laptop

Project Learning Meets Technology

By giving every middle school student a new laptop, the state of Maine strapped new wings on project learning. For both teachers and students, the learning process has soared beyond the classroom.

6 184 8,970 views
Project Learning: Expeditions in Portland, Maine

Project Learning: Expeditions in Portland, Maine

Project learning combined with 1-to-1 laptops creates a rich and rigorous environment for learning at a middle school and a high school in Portland, Maine.

5 26 7,475 views
Anatomy of a Project: "Soil Superheroes"

Anatomy of a Project: "Soil Superheroes"

Project Learning Assignment: Seventh graders work with community experts to advance their understanding of bacteria in the environment -- and then share their findings with the community at large.

27 20,431 views
Teacher Susan McCray Lights the Fire of Project Learning

Teacher Story: Susan McCray Lights the Fire of Project Learning

By guiding her students through rigorous projects aimed at illuminating solutions to real-world problems, high school humanities teacher Susan McCray uses Outward Bound principles to tap into students' passions for learning.

3 33 2,715 views
Anatomy of a Project: Give Me Shelter

Anatomy of a Project: "Give Me Shelter"

Juniors at Casco Bay High School, in Portland, Maine, explore homelessness by working in teams to make audio slide-show portraits.

3 58 22,175 views
Boys playing guitar and singing

10 Takeaway Tips for Project-Based Learning

At King Middle School and Casco Bay High School, in Portland, Maine, every student works in a widely hailed project-learning method called expeditionary learning. Discover what your school can learn.

3 132 33,138 views
Students working on projects

Six Steps for Planning a Successful Project

Use these guiding principles to pull together projects with the time and resources you have.

10 773 95,425 views

Comments (1) Sign in or register to comment

Margo Wixsom's picture

This Maine issue was very inspiring - and kudos to that state for making technology a priority. It proves that INVESTING in education pays off - a moral tale for legislators and states that are cutting education budgets. It would be nice to have the Bay Area gurus at Edutopia highlight some of the local Bay Area schools that have been doing this type of project-based learning for many years - especially in Silicon Valley where technology has always been in the forefront for decades. You don't have to go all the way to Maine to find great project-based learning examples. Palo Alto Photography students won first place in 2 categories in the California Student Media Festival (the oldest media festival in the country) in 2010 - check out their website for great student examples in every category at: Edutopia should feature groups like the CSMF for project-based learning examples that are online and accessible for teachers and students.
You can see examples of project-based learning at my webpage that is designed to share an overview of projects to share with other teachers and showcase student work in project galleries:

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.