When you hear the term project-based learning (PBL), what is the first thing that comes to mind? Probably something technological or scientific right? But believe it or not, many of us have been engaged in PBL all our lives – we just didn’t realize it. Just think about all those times you would sit and watch your grandmother, aunt or mother prepare a meal from scratch. The fact that she was able to do so without the help or assistance of a recipe was just another form of PBL. Or what about the time your dad or uncle taught you how to manually change a tire or change the oil in the car (no fancy tools, just good ol’ sweat equity)? All of these life examples afforded you the opportunity to develop a driving or critical question and contribute to the outcome of something.
This type of hands-on approach is what TAF continuously provides its students with to tackle real-world situations that by their nature have no easy solution, or have no solution at the present time. In three programs, TechStart, STEM UP and TAF Academy, this project-based approach to learning helps students to understand that sometimes one needs to be satisfied with asking the right questions rather than focusing on the “right” answers. Students learn to manage their time, interpret data sets, resolve value conflicts between group members and prepare and communicate the results of their investigation. In other words, they will use their experiences in TAF programs to learn to manage real-life situations.