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3D printing technology is one of the newest tools to enhance project-based learning, providing students with unique opportunities to learn about, design, produce and test solutions to real-world challenges. Not all 3D printers are created equal, however. Watch to learn what sets the Mojo from Stratasys apart from other models on the market, and see real examples of how 3D printing can enrich the curriculum in a variety of subjects.

Lisa Gonzales is superintendent of the Portola Valley School District in California and vice president of Legislative Action for the Association of California School Administrators.

When I tell colleagues that our district is in its second year of a transition to project-based learning (PBL) districtwide, only a few questions emerge.

Years ago, I would have expected “What is PBL?” Now there are many districts in our region who have opted for the structured approach, led by the Buck Institute for Education.

Fifth-grader Cici Collins’ (second from the right) cancer survival story inspired a Common Core-aligned curriculum for her entire class last fall.

Upon entering middle school last fall, cancer survivor Cici Collins had no idea her story would inspire a new curriculum for her entire grade.

At the Sherli Drukdra School in Saldang, Nepal, students say morning prayers as the wind turbine churns in the background.

During the past school year and into last summer, one class at the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford High School in Connecticut worked with a utilities expert and neighboring corporate partner United Technologies to design and build a solar-powered wind turbine that would generate electricity for a rural school in Saldang, Nepal.

New Tech High students, with teacher facilitators Christie and Tom Wolf, second and third from left, examine vines in the Copia demonstration gardens in a viticulture project.

A bank in Albuquerque, N.M., had a limited budget to make one of its branches more environmentally sustainable, so students at the local ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Leadership High School rolled up their sleeves and went to work. They searched websites for green design options, consulted with an engineer, and used spreadsheets to compare potential costs and energy savings.

The benefits are clear: Reading, math, and behavior have all improved. Here, Superintendent Norman Ridder, who attended the 2013 Superintendents Summit in Colorado Springs, gives us an inside look into Springfield’s project-based programs.

Five years ago, a pair of science teachers at Woodland Park (Colo.) High School turned their pedagogical approach upside down. Rather than stand up in front of the classroom, Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams sent their respective students home with videos of themselves lecturing. And rather than assigning traditional homework, work that most students could get tripped up on if they are not sure about a certain topic, the teachers gave students time in class—with their close supervision and help—to put their learning into practice.

Project-based learning looks different, and may seem messier, than traditional instruction. Administrators visiting PBL classrooms shouldn’t expect to see orderly rows of students moving through the curriculum together. Instead, they’re likely to find small teams of students working on investigations of open-ended questions. Students should be able to explain what they’re doing and how activities relate to the project goals.

Ask high school juniors at Da Vinci Charter Academy in the Davis (Calif.) Joint Unified School District, to explain the causes and consequences of war in American history, and you won’t get a rote recitation of dates and places.

Instead, these students are able to demonstrate their learning by screening the preview for a feature film they produced on the conflict in Afghanistan through the eyes of a young American soldier. They can offer highlights of their interviews with Vietnam veterans, which they contributed to the Library of Congress as primary source material.

SchoolSpeedTest.orgAs K12 education becomes more interconnected to videos, photos, software and Internet offerings for project-based learning and other lessons, there is a great need for schools not to only have access to broadband but also to have enough broadband to keep up with the array of new tools used in class.