Pagosa Peak Open Middle school Students Are Using Project-Based Learning to Get “Hands On” Wi

Students in PPOS middle school spent the year studying desertification, water as a precious resource, and the impacts humans have on water quality. As a conclusion of their studies, field work and the help of experts, students went on to propose projects around water safety and health, flooding and drought effects on crops and ranches, water power and filtration.

Students have designed their own experiments, including things like testing the pH of bottled water, creating filters and water wheels. Middle School Advisor Joey Wychesit said that student interests are motivating the learning and that learning becomes active, applicable and real for them because they have a choice to come up with their own projects.

“PBL is not an easy teaching style because there isn’t a clear-cut solution matrix,” Wychesit said. “It involves problem solving for students and teachers, which I enjoy. It also gives me a chance to embrace failure as a way to engage students in critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.”

Pagosa Peak Open School is a K-8 public school. The educational model is built upon project-based learning, a student-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach, through which students can acquire a deeper understanding, the exploration of real-world challenges and problems. Students in all classes at PPOS engage in multiple projects throughout the year; looking for ways to influence their own community, and create positive change.

Students will present their findings during the PPOS school-wide showcase at the end of the school year, where all students will share their learning through project presentations.