Project-Based Learning at St. Thomas Aquinas High School

St. Thomas Aquinas High School is committed to the utilizing the latest, most effective methods of instruction across all content areas. Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a school-wide initiative that develops deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in the context of doing an authentic, meaningful project.

Different than traditional projects, which ask students to simply demonstrate what they have already learned, PBL in and of itself is the learning experience. Students collaborate with groups and are guided by the teacher's knowledge and expertise to deeply understand the subject matter. Students work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience.

Examples of some project-based learning units that have been conducted in STA classrooms include:
  • How do the five keys of civilization ensure the survival of a civilization? What is needed for human survival and flourishing?
  • You are creating a theater troupe in Shakespearean London - how will you ensure its survival in this competitively artistic, and socially/politically tense environment?
  • How can we create a musical production that teaches us about World History?
  • You work for a public relations firm that has been contracted to create an advertising campaign for a two-region Italian tour. It is your goal to “sell” this trip to foreign tourists in order to boost tourism.
  • Do novels have enough educational value to justify inclusion in a high school curriculum?
  • What is the nature of truth? Why is it important to pursue truth in personal, social, and political life?
  • How can we teach Middle School students by what means they can be safe and responsible when using technology?
  • Why do we choose to accept some news and information as fact, but dismiss others?
  • Can you design a bridge to cross a creek using only cardboard and glue?