Project Based Learning
We believe that learning is more meaningful and memorable when students engage in purpose-driven, real-world experiences where they are empowered to have ownership in the learning process.
Project Based Learning is designed to teach students the academic knowledge and skills they need to learn in an authentic context that also nurtures critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills. Through inquiry and exploration, students collaboratively investigate a complex question, problem, or challenge, then create a public presentation or product to share their learning with others. A project-based approach brings a sense of creative energy to the classroom that inspires joyful learning.
Junior Kindergarten students study the life cycle of a frog. They journey to our local bluffs to collect tadpoles and create a classroom habitat to observe the tadpoles during their metamorphosis into frogs. As young Herpetologists, they take note of the conditions needed for frogs to spawn and the role that rainfall and wetlands play in that process.
First Grade students learn about our local Half Moon Bay community and early city planning in their neighborhood study, which culminates in the creation of a model city in the innovation lab.
Second Grade students engage in a year long study of our planet Earth. They learn about geography with a look at the continents and oceans, as well as landforms and major ecosystems. Each student selects a country to research and become an expert on. Students create a report and interactive presentation about their country of choice that they share with the community at our annual World’s Fair event.
Third Grade students take a deep dive into the concept of reducing, recycling, and re-using our natural resources across the school year. They learn about the harmful impact of plastics in our environment. In spring, they interview local entrepreneurs and study the design process for innovation and invention. Students generate their own idea for a product that helps to reduce single use plastics in the environment. Students make prototypes of their product to display and sell at the Environmental Entrepreneur Fair in the spring.
Fourth Grade students step into the past to study California history through the lens of the native Californian tribes and the various groups of people who later migrated here. In spring, students journey to the foothills to camp along the Sacramento River and walk in the footsteps of history. They explore a former Nisenan village and investigate the banks of the river to gather and study plants that the Nisenan used for medicinal purposes. Students learn how the discovery of gold in California impacted human geography and about the hardships and challenges settlers encountered traveling west. They use the knowledge and experiences gained to teach others as part of a school assembly.
Fifth Grade in connection with their science unit on Land, Water, and Human Interactions, fifth- grade students investigate the Pillar Point Harbor to see how our local harbor is used and cared for. They interview people from all walks of life that rely on the harbor for work and recreation, as well as those working to conserve the natural habitats within and around it to educate themselves and others about responsible harbor use.
Sixth Grade students, in connection with their science study of how the ocean interacts with the atmosphere, students engage in an inquiry project to research how sea turtles use ocean currents. They analyze real world data to track the average turtle age through the East Australian Current. They then design and construct prototype GPS transmitter harnesses to track turtle hatchlings as they migrate through the ocean. Students test their prototypes by measuring the drag coefficients of their designs in a virtual wind tunnel. Students then create brochures to summarize their findings.
Seven Grade students develop financial literacy skills in connection with their mathematics learning. They learn key financial literacy concepts, such as budget planning and calculating rates, and put their math skills to practice as part of a financial planning project. Students share insights from their learning with fellow classmates and their families.
Eight Grade students investigate Civics and the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship. They study the constitution, the three branches of government, and the important role voting plays in a democracy. Students journey to Washington DC in the early spring to see our government in action and culminate this study with a research project on the rights and responsibilities of a democracy.