top of page
A large cardboard model of the Titanic made by schoolchildren

Project-Based Learning

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 another class, students learn about various computer languages humans use to communicate with technology such as robots.

a black and white photo portrait of Booker T. Washington

Historic Influences on Progressive Education

"The world cares little about what a man knows; it cares more about what a man is able to do... Education is not a thing apart from life -- not a 'system' nor a philosophy; it is direct teaching how to live and how to work."  Booker T. Washington

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.

TCS faculty are experts in their field on project-based learning...

Would you like to read more about project-based learning in action? Three members of our middle school faculty co-authored the article "The Project Method in Practice" for the University of Chicago Press Journal, Schools: Studies in Education. You can read a great synopsis with highlights and quotes from the article in the publisher's release "A Hundred Years Later, the Project Method Still Ignites Learning." We're proud to have thought-leaders in progressive education like Mr. Will Hudson, and Ms. Gloria Mitchell on our faculty.

Cover of University of Chicago Press "Schools" journal

"We were at a college tour at UW Madison which happened to be during their open studio day where a lot of artists were doing demonstrations of their work. At a paper making demonstration the presenter asked if anyone had ever made paper before.  My son said, "Yeah, I did that in kindergarten."  Priceless moment."

TCS Alumni Parent

bottom of page