Hands-on work and group collaboration nourishes multiple learning styles.
Project-based learning starts with wondering, a question, a problem to be solved. "What does it take to build a robot?" leads to writing down a plan, followed by research on robots. The next step might be tracing out design, followed by learning how to measure and scale materials for building.
Meanwhile, during breaks from construction work, the whole class enjoys a science fiction chapter book on robots. A guest expert comes in to speak to the class on robotics and artificial intelligence. In a language class, students learn about various computer languages humans use to communicate with technology such as robots.
Projects can be initiated by group inquiry and evolve over time. For example, our first graders were interested in bugs. This prompted a thorough study of different species of insects. They were particularly fascinated by ants. Eventually, the students decided to turn their classroom into a working ant colony, with themselves as the ants. They built tunnels and laid out their classroom anthill using proportional mathematics.
The Children's School has multiple projects going on at any given time. Children in the lower grades may focus all their learning around one theme, such as coral reefs or medieval England. A middle school student might have four concurrent projects with four different themes: exploring different government structures with one faculty member; understanding the operation of simple electronic switches and motors with another; tracing the role of the hero or heroine theme across various genres of literature in another class; and simultaneously working on their own individual project to create a small business model for a campus cafe.