Originally Published: May 4, 2015 6 a.m.
If you toured classrooms at Bradshaw Mountain Middle School this week, it would be difficult to keep up with all the projects occurring across the campus. A casual observer might wonder what the students are learning since it appears on the surface to be activities, plays and games.
Gail Pereira, a science teacher at BMMS, has always believed that learning should be fun, so she has been a strong advocate of the Honors and Leadership program at BMMS where teachers are encouraged to implement project-based learning into their curriculum. As students finalized their Rube-Goldberg machines and presentations to demonstrate their understanding of Newton's law of motion, Pereira stated, "My students learn by doing as opposed to being stuck in a book."
Deann Steck, an eighth grader at BMMS, couldn't wait to show her project to the principal, Mrs. Bennett. She enthusiastically told Bennett, "My friends couldn't believe I finished my homework early, but if it's a project, I will do it. I love projects."
The 300 students at BMMS are given several opportunities each semester with project-based learning to tackle realistic problems as they would be solved in the real world. Students are given increased control over their learning and frequently work in pairs or groups.
Academies meet four days each week for 40 minutes and students are able to work on a challenge that interests them. Students in the art academy research what it means to leave an impact on the world and then presented an individual through a skit, film, or art murals. Health and Fitness students created their own fitness, nutrition and behavior plan for a semester to improve their overall well-being. STEM students were challenged to find ways to provide food and water if a variety of natural or man-made disasters occurred. Civics students completed over 600 hours of community service during the first semester of school, ran teen-court, and mentored fellow students.
BMMS Instructional Specialist Elizabeth Rushton is excited that "students have the unique opportunity to apply their learning to a real world topic or concept. It is so inspiring to see their final presentations and exciting to see how proud the students are of their accomplishments."
Bennett is encouraged the BMMS faculty and students have embraced project-based learning. She firmly believes that "students are not only developing 21st Century skills, but also improving their attitude about school and interest in learning."
For more information, call 928-759-4900. Visit the HUSD web page at www.humboldtunified.com to learn more about programs being offered at all of the schools in the district.