The event, held at the Childersburg High School Arena, gave students an opportunity to be the teachers as they explained in detail what they had learned to more than 600 parents, peers and other spectators.
Students assigned to specific projects by grade stood in front of 60 different displays, covering a variety of topics including civil rights, famous Alabamians and natural disasters.
“This would be a perfect demonstration of what happens daily in our classrooms,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Lacey said. “Children are given the opportunity to articulate what they’ve learned and how they learned it.”
Each display featured a driving question designed to provoke thought and discussion from the students.
“Project-based learning promotes teamwork and collaboration,” Lacey said. “It gives students a chance to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. When students are working together and doing things that are meaningful to them, they’ll retain that knowledge.”
Students spared no details when explaining their projects, using iPads to create eBooks and videos to drive home the finer points of their presentations.
Some stations even incorporated Quick Response Codes, a matrix barcode onlookers could scan with smart phones to access documents or videos created by the students relating to the project.
Two groups of students from B.B. Comer Memorial High School demonstrated their assignments where they had to construct a rocket using the three laws of motion.
“This project showed us how things can play out and how to be prepared to adapt to real-world situations,” said ninth-grader Madison Vick. “We learned there’s lots of skills needed to succeed as adults.”
Cross-collaboration between the two groups resulted in both having successfully documented rocket launches, after a few tries and different methods applied. They displayed the launches to visitors through video.
“Working together allows many people with many points of view to come together and present ideas,” said Marly Bailey, a teammate of Vick’s. “It’s a lot better than working individually.”
Not all of the projects used modern-day technological advances. Lincoln High School students took an old-school approach to their driving question, “How can we create a compound machine to help students with disabilities?”
The students responded by building a swiveling station for a wheelchair user to prop up an iPad and an extension tool for grabbing out-of-reach objects.
“For our projects, we used wheels, axles, screws, pulleys and wedges to create our machines,” said ninth-grader Blake Brooks. “It felt great to participate in a project where I could help students in our school.”
The showcase also offered workshops for parents and visitors to explain project-based learning, college and career readiness, Internet education tools and QR codes.
Rick Maroney, project manager for the Robotics Technology Park, sponsored several robotics displays, introducing the students to a potential career opportunity. The park is a part of Alabama Industrial Development Training.
“We want our students in the state of Alabama to become interested in automation,” Maroney said. “We introduce these concepts to them so they’ll stay in school and obtain an education. There’s a shortfall in the robotics industry and we need people to fill these jobs.”