New Hope School conducts a project-based learning component as part of its overall education program. Project-based learning focuses on teaching students key knowledge and understanding as well as success skills, such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
A typical project is based on a meaningful problem to solve or question to answer, at an appropriate level of challenge for students, and is governed by an open-ended and engaging driving question.
The project involves an active, in-depth process over a period of several weeks, during which students generate their own questions, find and use resources, develop further questions, and come to conclusions.
There is a real-world context using real-world processes, tools, and standards. The project is connected to students’ own interests and identities and is expected to make a real-world impact.
Students are encouraged to choose the types of products they wish to create, how they will work and use their time, with guidance by their teacher.
Opportunities are provided for students to reflect on what and how they are learning as well as on the project’s design and implementation.
Students are expected to give and receive feedback on their work in order to revise their ideas and products or conduct further inquiry.
At the end, students demonstrate what they have learned by making a presentation beyond their own classroom, either to the entire school, their parents, or to the general community.
Past projects have included creating a 3D model of the Delaware Water Gap to understand its ecological significance and impact on the surrounding region; examining the physical geography of northeast New Jersey and its impact on the people living in the area; and creating a sales pitch to an imaginary tech company to convince its CEO to locate its new headquarters in a particular city.
Below is a catalogue of project-based learning projects conducted by our various classes this past spring:
Ecosystems in Real Life
Students researched and created dioramas of various kinds of ecosystems illustrating the types of vegetation and animals that live there. Students learned how their ecosystems support these life forms. Their products were presented as part of our science fair in May.
My Body, My Life
Students researched and reconstructed on a model of the human body six major systems of the body: digestive, respiratory, circulatory, skeletal, muscular, and nervous. They learned the connectedness of these systems and the link between the physical body, exercise, and diet. They also examined the effect of their emotions on their physical well-being. Students presented their discoveries at the science fair in May.
Students examined the impact of water pollution on our school, city, country, and the world. They investigated how pollutants enter the water cycle and the damage its causes. Working as a group, they discussed, reflected, and decided the best ways to purify water. Using their knowledge of the water cycle, students created terrariums, wrote reports, and presented their findings at a school assembly in June.
Designing a School
Working as a group, students designed the ideal school, taking into consideration its overall purpose, function of the different sections, the school day schedule, the types of classes held, technology, efficiency, and budgeting. They considered the types of materials to be used and presented the finished product to an enthusiastic audience—their parents—in their classroom.
Marking History, Making History
Fourth & Fifth Grades
Starting with an interview with Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi, students researched and wrote about the history of the Clifton area from the perspectives of Native Americans, African-Americans, early English settlers, and later immigrants. They came to understand that there is more than just one history of a given area depending on one’s perspective. Presentations were made at a school assembly on May 3 focusing on four main areas: Morris Canal, Clifton’s farms, the former quarantine station, and Garret Mountain.
Rocking the Rock Cycle on Mars
Sixth & Eighth Grades
Why is Mars so different from Earth? Students compared the two planets seeking to understand the conditions necessary to support the generation of life. Their investigation included geological structure, the water cycle, the formation of an atmosphere, and the generation of weather. The project concluded with students giving PowerPoint presentations to younger students in April.