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Children's Museum To Lead Project-Based Learning Pilot

The Kickstarting Making in Schools Project selected 10 schools from Allegheny, Armstrong, Washington and Westmoreland counties to participate in its new project-based learning initiative.

Helmed by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the project aims to integrate more “maker” learning into schools’ curriculum through June 2016.

Teresa DeFlitch, the museum’s project manager, said teachers will be encouraged to use different types of materials and processes that engage students in a more open-ended way.

“The idea of creative production really empowers learners and it engages students in new ways,” she said. “I think it’s really exciting for educators to become more familiar with it as a strategy as they see their students really getting excited about learning different types of content.”

The 10 schools include: Burgettstown Elementary Center, Cecil Intermediate School, Environmental Charter School, Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School, Kiski Area Upper Elementary School, Ligonier Valley High School, Monesson Elementary Center, Pittsburgh Lincoln PreK-5, Pittsburgh Woodland Hills Intermediate Center and Yeshiva Schools and Lubavitch Center of Pittsburgh.

The program was initially intended for six pilot schools, DeFlitch said, but chose 10 to accommodate an unexpected surge in applications.

“So we are, as we move through this pilot phase, building a set of resources including online professional development and a toolkit that will help these hubs and the schools integrate ‘making,’” she said. “So hopefully we’ll be able to scale it not only to schools here locally and in the region, but also nationally.”

Businesses and manufacturers are starting to realize how creation in the classroom can foster real-life innovation and manufacturing, DeFlitch said.

“What we’re seeing in the learner is this really develops their creativity, it develops their ability to think in an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset.”

Training begins Tuesday at the museum with support by the Grable Foundation. Classroom projects, expected to launch mid-September, will be funded through individual Kickstarter pages, which DeFlitch said schools will set up soon. There is no estimate of the cost at this point, she said.