Project learning is part of RPS 205 high school academies

Guilford High School students built a home near Sandy Hollow Golf Course for Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. It was dedicated May 5.

Guilford High School students built a home near Sandy Hollow Golf Course for Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. It was dedicated May 5.

If Omar Mastache ends up following his interest in police work, there’s one part of the job that won’t be a surprise to him. “There’s a lot of paperwork. You have to document everything,” he said.

A sophomore at East High School, Omar has time to figure out whether law enforcement is the field he wants to enter. Introducing students to careers now—before they  find themselves miserable behind a desk—was part of the plan of Rockford Public Schools’ teacher Raquel Jardon Martin.

The chemistry teacher at East designed a five-day, project-based learning activity, “Who Killed Melissa Hammond,” in April. The project illustrated how coursework applies to crime-scene investigations. For example: The Winnebago County coroner’s office detailed how body temperature can help determine time of death. The Rockford Police Department discussed DNA evidence and types of fingerprinting, which impressed East sophomore Jorge Martinez and reinforced his interest in a criminology career. “This kind of, like, pushed me forward,” he said.

Project-based learning is a big part of the high school academies, which are small learning communities that provide real-world experiences with local businesses and professionals. Such projects also align with the goals of Growth and Achievement and Engaging Partnerships in the RPS 205 Strategic Plan.

Other project-based learning this year has included:

–The Health Sciences Academy at Auburn High School organized a Knightmare 5K Zombie Run, held in October at Anna Page Park. It was the final step in a cross-curricular project about epidemics and outbreaks. Lessons included the perfect workout regimen to survive the zombie apocalypse (exercise science), population calculations (math) and how diseases spread (health).

–Lexi Cox transferred to Jefferson High School for her senior year. That didn’t give her much time to pull together her own project-based learning: She approached the Business, Arts, Modern World Languages and Information Technology (BAMIT) Advisory Board in the fall about whether Jefferson could host a Special Olympics competition. Lexi received approval in January; the Spring Games were held May 6. It meant a lot to the athletes to compete under the school banner, according to Shawn Babcock, a PE teacher at Jefferson. “They were excited to have a J-Hawk team,” he said.

–Students in Guilford High School’s Engineering, Manufacturing, Industrial and Trades Technology (EMITT) Academy built a four-bedroom, two-bath house at 2979 Carol Place, just east of Sandy Hollow Golf Course. The home was built in partnership with Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. It was dedicated earlier this month. Guilford students will build another home next year. “We’re proud to partner with you and look forward to our future together,” Keri Nelson, Habitat executive director, wrote in an email. “We’re certainly stronger together.”

Mary Kaull is strategic communications coordinator for the Rockford Public Schools. Click here to subscribe to this blog. Also, please like RPS 205 on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *