SPS launches string of projects

With a string of new projects underway, our Student Powered Solutions (SPS) program already has connected four community partners with nine schools to undertake Project-Based Learning (PBL) experiences this semester and plans to launch another project involving two schools in March.

A student tries out a Virtual Reality mask at CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center

All of the projects will conclude with formal presentations before the end of the school year, But even in the earliest stages, teachers can see positive effects from PBL. At a kickoff session where Woodland Hills High School students had a chance to ask questions before they began their project, for example, Business teacher Doreen Tabb marveled at the level of engagement. “Some of the kids who are talking the most hardly ever raise their hands in class,” she said.

“It’s always interesting to see the ideas these kids can offer,” said Program Director Aaron Altemus. “But it’s really gratifying to see the degree of personal growth they achieve. By the end of their projects, most of these students tell you without prompting that some of their biggest takeaways are better soft skills, especially communication.”

The most recent SPS launch brought Penn Hills High School students to work with Covestro on an assignment begun earlier with Pittsburgh Perry and South Fayette school districts. Kids at all three schools will be presenting ideas about what features passengers will want a decade from now in autonomous vehicles as they play a greater role in public transit.

At the same time:

  • Teams from McKeesport and Woodland Hills school districts are developing ideas to build visibility and attendance for Remake Learning Days
  • Students from Mt. Pleasant and South Allegheny school districts are working with Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center on making a Virtual Reality mask easier to sanitize between uses
  • Teams from Blackhawk and Mohawk school districts are working with First Energy to address questions involving nuclear power.

Our final SPS project for the year gets underway in March. It pairs 412-Food Rescue with students from Franklin Regional and Quaker Valley school districts to work on finding ways to reduce food waste in their school cafeterias