The students of United Independent School District in Texas started using Project Pals a year ago when the pandemic just started. In this difficult year, when most learning conducted online has mostly produced some frustrating learning experiences, these students have exceeded all expectations by creating some amazing projects using Project Pals.
The projects done by 4th and 5th grade students cover a variety of topics adapted from the Texas Performance Standards Project, such as a focus on animal life, designing a garden, and learning to become a chef. A few students came up with their own topics reflecting their personal interests, such as a focus on Nintendo Switch and Botany.
In the Design a Garden project, a team of students started their project by describing the different plant types and parts, determining the best time to plant in their area, the type of garden they want to create and the plants they want to include in it. They then delve deeper into each plant and come up with planting guidelines and a design of their garden.
In the ‘So You Want to Be A Chef’ project, a team of students endeavoring to learn to become a chef, decided to focus on the Mexican kitchen. They started by exploring the food, its trends and the ingredients used in its recipes. They then followed the history of the food, how it changed over time, its origins and its future. Before cooking the food, they listed several Mexican food recipes and picked one to cook, while using images to display the cooking experience.
Another group of 4th graders decided to study different animals to learn about their basic needs and ecosystems in which they live. In 'Animal Nation,' students started by describing the research they conducted about these animals and then provided information about the animal’s look, its habitat, where it lives, what it eats, its lifespan and some unique characteristics.
A groups of students who wanted to pursue their own interests, decided to design their own projects. One of these groups created a project about the difference between Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite. The project which was done masterfully by three 5th grade students, covers the purpose of the project, research questions, fun facts, terminology, a description of both Nintendo types, multiple perspectives of these devices, how it changed over time, product reviews and references.
Last but not least, a group of 5th grade students decided to explore their passion for botany by creating a project about plant types and parts, how to grow plants and delving deep into several plants.
In spite of the difficult conditions that these students had to learn this year, these projects are proof that by using Project Pals, students were able to collaborate with their peers and see their contributions in real time as if they were present in the classroom. The amazing outcome is testament to the effectiveness of the experience.