Statement as issued Tuesday:
FORT WAYNE, IN. – The Talent Initiative, in partnership with the Buck Institute for Education (BIE), recently announced the winners of its 2012 Best Project Contest by surprising each teacher, or team of teachers, at their school with an award of $1,500. In addition, each represented school received an award of $500 for its support of the teachers in their implementation of project-based learning (PBL).
Project-based learning (PBL) is a teaching methodology designed to engage students in solving problems and making decisions on projects that are modeled after real world problems and challenges, rather than just memorizing facts for a test. The Talent Initiative has supported the region-wide implementation of this model of teaching through its funding of six science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) focused New Tech high schools in Northeast Indiana, all of which utilize PBL as a core component of their 21st century education curriculum. In addition to supporting New Tech high schools in Northeast Indiana, the Talent Initiative has also worked to ensure the success of PBL in the region through the distribution of over $2 million in professional development grants to educators across Northeast Indiana with a high priority on STEM.
The 2012 Best Project Contest was designed to reward the efforts of teachers who are working to implement PBL in Northeast Indiana. The contest was open to submissions from teachers of grades 6-12 that received training under one of the Talent Initiative’s Professional Development Grants. Projects were required to be original and have a STEM focus.
The competition was divided by discipline into three categories: Science, Technology/Engineering, and Mathematics. The winners for each category were as follows:
• Science – Deb Daugherty of Riverview Middle School in Huntington County Community School Corporation won for her project “The Garden Tour.” For this project, students toured the Master Garden at Salamonie and learned more about a bird and butterfly garden, ABC garden, and vegetable garden among many others. The students conducted further research on the plants and their uses to make an audio podcast and virtual web page as well as devised innovative ways to educate the public about the garden and its many uses.
• Technology/Engineering – Jonathan Patterson of Adams Central Middle School in Adams Central Community Schools won for his project “Linking Industry and Education.” For this project, students worked with Raytheon and Northrup-Grumman, two of Fort Wayne’s aerospace/defense companies, to improve communication devices for soldiers in Iraq. The challenge was to design, create, present, and demonstrate the improved communication devices and ultimately win a company’s bid.
• Mathematics – Jill Stetzel and Cathy Rowe of Indian Springs Middle School in Whitley County Consolidated Schools won for their project “Restaurant Possible.” For this project, students learned ratios, proportions, and knowledge about the area of irregular figures to construct a floor plan to scale for a large restaurant company looking to build a new restaurant in Columbia City.
Founded in 1987, the Buck Institute for Education works to expand the effective use of Project Based Learning throughout the world. BIE is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization based in Novato, California, and is a beneficiary of the Leonard and Beryl Buck Trust. BIE has provided PBL professional development services to thousands of educators, curriculum development consulting, and ongoing support for organizations including school districts, state departments of education, foundations and other clients in the United States and around the world. It publishes the PBL Handbook, which has sold over 40,000 copies and has been translated into eight languages. BIE hosts an annual PBL World conference, and offers online resources at its website and online classes at PBLU.org.
The Talent Initiative , established by a $20 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., is a 10-county regional program focused on accelerating education and training initiatives in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The primary goals of the Talent Initiative are to increase the base of highly skilled workers to meet the needs of the defense/aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries, while increasing job quality and reversing the current decline in regional per capita income. The program receives financial oversight from Community Partnerships, Inc., a supporting organization of the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and operational oversight from the Northeast Indiana Fund, a supporting organization of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.