Twenty Ideas for Engaging Projects (2023)

The start of the school year offers an ideal time to introduce students to project-based learning. By starting with engaging projects, you'll grab their interest while establishing a solid foundation of important skills, such as knowing how to conduct research, engage experts, and collaborate with peers. In honor of Edutopia's 20th anniversary, here are 20 project ideas to get learning off to a good start.

1. Flat Stanley Refresh: Flat Stanley literacy projects are perennial favorites for inspiring students to communicate and connect, often across great distances. Now Flat Stanley has his own apps for iPhone and iPad, along with new online resources. Project founder Dale Hubert is recently retired from the classroom, but he's still generating fresh ideas to bring learning alive in the "flatlands."

2. PBL is No Accident: In West Virginia, project-based learning has been adopted as a statewide strategy for improving teaching and learning. Teachers don't have to look far to find good project ideas. In this CNN story about the state's educational approach, read about a project that grew out of a fender-bender in a school parking lot. When students were asked to come up with a better design for the lot, they applied their understanding of geometry, civics, law, engineering, and public speaking. Find more good ideas in West Virginia's Teach21 project library.

3. Defy Gravity: Give your students a chance to investigate what happens near zero gravity by challenging them to design an experiment for NASA to conduct at its 2.2 second drop tower in Brookpark, Ohio. Separate NASA programs are offered for middle school and high school. Or, propose a project that may land you a seat on the ultimate roller coaster (aka: the "vomit comet"), NASA aircraft that produces periods of micro and hyper gravity ranging from 0 to 2 g's. Proposal deadline is Sept. 21, and flight week takes place in February 2012.

4. Connect Across Disciplines: When students design and build kinetic sculptures, they expand their understanding of art, history, engineering, language arts, and technology. Get some interdisciplinary project insights from the Edutopia video, Kinetic Conundrum. Click on the accompanying links for more tips about how you can do it, too.

5. Honor Home Languages: English language learners can feel pressured to master English fast, with class time spent correcting errors instead of using language in meaningful ways. Digital IS, a site published by the National Writing Project, shares plans for three projects that take time to honor students' home languages and cultures, engaging them in critical thinking, collaboration, and use of digital tools. Anne Herrington and Charlie Moran curate the project collection, "English Language Learners, Digital Tools, and Authentic Audiences."

6. Rethink Lunch: Make lunch into a learning opportunity with a project that gets students thinking more critically about their mid-day meal. Center for Ecoliteracy offers materials to help you start,including informative essays and downloadable planning guides. Get more ideas from this video about a middle-school nutrition project, "A Healthy School Lunch."

7. Take a Learning Expedition: Expeditionary Learning schools take students on authentic learning expeditions, often in neighborhoods close to home. Check out the gallery for project ideas.

8. Find a Pal: If PBL is new to you, consider joining an existing project. You'll benefit from a veteran colleague's insights, and your students will get a chance to collaborate with classmates from other communities or even other countries. Get connected at ePals, a global learning community for educators from more than 200 countries.

9. Get Minds Inquiring: What's under foot? What are things made of? Science projects that emphasize inquiry help students make sense of their world and build a solid foundation for future understanding. The Inquiry Project supports teachers in third to fifth grades as they guide students in hands-on investigations about matter. Students develop the habits of scientists as they make observations, offer predictions, and gather evidence. Companion videos show how scientists use the same methods to explore the world. Connect inquiry activities to longer-term projects, such as creating a classroom museum that showcases students' investigations.

10. Learn through Service: When cases of the West Nile virus were reported in their area, Minnesota students sprang into action with a project that focused on preventing the disease through public education. Their project(PDF) demonstrates what can happen when service-learning principles are built into PBL. Find more ideas for service-learning projects from the National Youth Leadership Council.

11. Locate Experts: When students are learning through authentic projects, they often need to connect with experts from the world outside the classroom. Find the knowledgeable experts you need for STEM projects through the National Lab Network. It's an online network where K-12 educators can locate experts from the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

12. Build Empathy: Projects that help students see the world from another person's perspective build empathy along with academic outcomes. The Edutopia video, "Give Me Shelter", shows what compassionate learning looks like in action. Click on the companion links for more suggestions about how you can do it, too.

13. Investigate Climate Science: Take students on an investigation of climate science by joining the newest collaborative project hosted by GLOBE, Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment. The Student Climate Research Campaign includes three components: introductory activities to build a foundation of understanding, intensive observing periods when students around the world gather and report data, and research investigations that students design and conduct. Climate project kicks off Sept. 12.

14. Problem-Solvers Unite: Math fairs take mathematics out of the classroom and into the community, where everyone gets a chance to try their hand at problem solving. Galileo Educational Network explains how to host a math fair. In a nutshell, students set up displays of their math problems but not the solutions. Then they entice their parents and invited guests to work on solutions. Make the event even more engaging by inviting mathematicians to respond to students' problems.

15. Harvest Pennies: Can small things really add up to big results? It seems so, based on results of the Penny Harvest. Since the project started in New York in 1991, young philanthropists nationwide have raised and donated more than $8 million to charitable causes, all through penny drives. The project website explains how to organize students in philanthropy roundtables to study community issues and decide which causes they want to support.

16. Gather Stories: Instead of teaching history from textbooks, put students in the role of historian and help them make sense of the past. Learn more about how to plan oral history projects in the Edutopia story, "Living Legends." Teach students about the value of listening by having them gather stories for StoryCorps.

17. Angry Bird Physics: Here's a driving question to kickstart a science project: "What are the laws of physics in Angry Birds world?" Read how physics teachers like Frank Noschese and John Burk are using the web version of the popular mobile game in their classrooms.

18. Place-Based Projects: Make local heritage, landscapes, and culture the jumping-off point for compelling projects. That's the idea behind place-based education, which encourages students to look closely at their communities. Often, they wind up making significant contributions to their communities, as seen in the City of Stories project.

19. News They Can Use: Students don't have to wait until they're grown-ups to start publishing. Student newspapers, radio stations, and other journalism projects give them real-life experiences now. Award-winning journalism teacher Esther Wojcicki outlines the benefits this post on the New York Times Learning Network. Get more ideas about digital-age citizen journalism projects at MediaShift Idea Lab.

20. The Heroes They Know: To get acquainted with students at the start of the year and also introduce students to PBL processes, High Tech High teacher Diana Sanchez asked students to create a visual and textual representation of a hero in their own life. Their black-and-white exhibits were a source of pride to students, as Sanchez explains in her project reflection. Get more ideas from the project gallery at High Tech High, a network of 11 schools in San Diego County that emphasize PBL. To learn more, watch this Edutopia video interview with High Tech High founding principal Larry Rosenstock.

Please tell us about the projects you are planning for this school year.


What is the 20 percent project? ›

Since before its IPO in 2004 the founders of Google have encouraged the 20% project system. Within Google, this initiative became known as the "20% Project." Employees were encouraged to spend up to twenty-percent of their paid work time pursuing personal projects.

What is a 20 percent project for school? ›

The 20% Project and the Genius Hour

Within its framework, each student selects a goal or accomplishment to pursue. Teachers guide their students through the process of realizing them—through research, written documentation in the form of blogging, and multiple presentations to classmates and the school community.

What are examples of student engagement? ›

For example, in one school observable behaviors such as attending class, listening attentively, participating in discussions, turning in work on time, and following rules and directions may be perceived as forms of “engagement,” while in another school the concept of “engagement” may be largely understood in terms of ...

How do you create engaging activities? ›

20 Student Engagement Strategies for a Captivating Classroom
  1. Connect learning to the real world. ...
  2. Engage with your students' interests. ...
  3. Fill “dead time” ...
  4. Use group work and collaboration. ...
  5. Encourage students to present and share work regularly. ...
  6. Give your students a say. ...
  7. Use mixed media. ...
  8. Get your students moving.
Jun 18, 2020

What are 20 percent rules? ›

In finance, the twenty percent rule is a convention used by banks in relation to their credit management practices. Specifically, it stipulates that debtors must maintain bank deposits that are equal to at least 20% of their outstanding loans.

What is the 20 time rule? ›

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin highlighted the idea in their 2004 IPO letter: "We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google," they wrote. "This empowers them to be more creative and innovative.

What is the 20 percent rule in the classroom? ›

80/20 for the Classroom #1: 20% of Your Students Will Take Up 80% of Your Resources and Time. Action Plan: Identify the 20% of your students who take the most of your energy. Develop strategies, systems, and rules to streamline their challenges.

What makes a good project for students? ›

The best projects combine multiple subject areas and call upon the prior knowledge and expertise of each student. Best of all, serendipitous insights and connections to big ideas lead to the greatest payoff for learners.

What are the 6 types of student engagement? ›

No discussion of learner engagement is complete without addressing all six specific types: cognitive, emotional, behavioral, social, physical, and cultural.

What is a good example of engagement? ›

Good examples of employee engagement include employees showing up to work with a sense of purpose, a deep commitment to the organization, dedication to performing well, a collaborative attitude, good communication with co-workers and leaders, and the ability to give and receive feedback positively.

What are the 5 C's of student engagement? ›

A core element of SCSD's Strategic Plan is a focus on the skills and conceptual tools that are critical for 21st Century learners, including the 5Cs: Critical Thinking & Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration, Citizenship (global and local) and Creativity & Innovation.

How can I make my school more engaging? ›

Promoting student engagement through active learning

Strategies include, but are not limited to, question-and-answer sessions, discussion, interactive lecture (in which students respond to or ask questions), quick writing assignments, hands-on activities, and experiential learning.

What is the 10 20 rule examples? ›

Here's an example of the 10/20 rule

To figure out 20% of your annual income, just divide your income by 5. $33,900 divided by 5 is $6,780. You'll want to keep your total debt below that. (Remember, your mortgage doesn't count.)

What are 80 20 rules? ›

The 80-20 rule maintains that 80% of outcomes comes from 20% of causes. The 80-20 rule prioritizes the 20% of factors that will produce the best results. A principle of the 80-20 rule is to identify an entity's best assets and use them efficiently to create maximum value.

What is the 40 20 rule of work? ›

The dictum is that 40 percent of your direct marketing success is dependent on your audience, another 40 percent is dependent on your offer, and the last 20 percent is reserved for everything else, including how the material is presented.

What is the 50 30 20 rule time management? ›

The 50-30-20 formula means designating 50% of your workday to activities that advance your life goals; 30% to tasks that advance mid-term goals; and 20% to working toward more immediate goals.

What is the 90 20 rule timer? ›

The 90-20 rule is quite simple: Spend 90 minutes focused on a specific task, and then take a 20-minute break. Studies show that our brain uses up most of its glucose — the sugar responsible for optimal brain function — in 60 to 90-minute intervals.

What is the 80 20 method of studying? ›

How Does The 80/20 Rule Apply To Our Studies? When we are looking at this principle in relation to our education, the primary factor we should consider is that 20% of the time you spend studying will be leading to 80% of the results you see.

What is the 80% rule in Education? ›

Ask any dean of students, 80% of the discipline problems come from roughly 20% of the student body. The Pareto Principle suggests that a few things produce the majority of results. Find out what is vital, ignore what is trivial, and you can maximize results.

What is the golden rule in classroom? ›

Building relationships with students begins first and foremost with the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This means to treat students respectfully, ask politely, and correct kindly.

What are project ideas? ›

Project Ideas are where you begin documenting proposals for future research grant applications. At this phase, you are documenting key information related to the project, as well as identifying collaborators, potential funders, budget information, and metadata related to the project.

How do I find project ideas? ›

5 Tips for Coming Up with Great Project Ideas
  1. Define what “great” means. Define what a “great” project would mean for your organization. ...
  2. Take your time to find ideas. Give your team enough time to come up with great project ideas. ...
  3. No restrictions – act naturally. ...
  4. But be disciplined and pragmatic. ...
  5. Teamwork is the key.
Nov 18, 2022

What are some types of projects? ›

Potential project types:
  • Business implementation.
  • Foundational (business improvement)
  • IT infrastructure improvement.
  • Product development (IT)
  • Product development (non-IT)
  • Physical engineering/construction.
  • Physical infrastructure improvement.
  • Procurement.
Sep 10, 2020

What are the 3 most important things when starting a project? ›

Tips to remember when beginning a project
  • Set SMART goals. First, it's important to set goals for your project team so that everyone understands what to do during the project. ...
  • Plan the scope of work. ...
  • Finalise costs and resources. ...
  • Decide how to report on the project.
Jul 9, 2022

What are the 4 secret keys to student engagement? ›

As part of their series to help schools understand the federal No Child Left Behind Law, Learning Point Associates describes the four key elements of student engagement — student confidence, teacher involvement, relevant texts, and choice among texts and assigments.

What are the 3 types of student engagement? ›

Engagement in the classroom falls within three categories: behavioral, cognitive, and affective (Fredericks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). These three types are distinct yet interrelated.

What are the 5 areas of engagement? ›

It is broken down into the following 5 areas of engagement:
  • exploration.
  • realisation.
  • anticipation.
  • persistence.
  • initiation.

What are the 5 keys to engagement? ›

These keys are grouped under the acronym “MAGIC” and include meaning, autonomy, growth, impact, and connection.

What are engagement ideas? ›

20 employee engagement ideas
  • Go to a sporting event or new brewery in town as a company outing.
  • Order pizza for the whole company on a Friday.
  • Go paintballing or bowling.
  • Visit an escape room.
  • Host a scavenger hunt.
  • Bring in a cool speaker for a lunch-and-learn.
Feb 21, 2023

What are the 6 Cs of motivation and engagement? ›

Turner and Paris' Six C's of Motivation (1995) identifies six characteristics of motivating contexts, namely, choice, challenge, control, collaboration, constructing meaning, and consequences.

What are the four dimensions of student engagement? ›

Student engagement consists of four dimensions, namely behavioral, cognitive, emotional and agentic engagement (Fredricks et al., 2004; Reeve & Tseng, 2011).

What is the goal for student engagement? ›

Your goal might be to see students more active in class participation and specific activities. You might also be looking for ways to increase overall degree and course completion. Whether long- or short-term, all of these goals require active strategies for engaging students.

What is an active engagement? ›

What is Active Engagement? Active engagement includes anything students do to actively participate or interact with their learning and/or materials; this contrasts with passively listening to a lecture or video or watching a person model or do instruction.

What is a engaged learning? ›

What is Engaged Learning? Engaged Learning is an educational strategy in which either part or all of the class objectives are learned by working on projects with a community partner. Engaged Learning is a type of education that put classroom skills and knowledge into practice while serving your community.

What are some motivational activities? ›

22 Motivation Activity Ideas for Students
  • The Share Chair.
  • Change Of Scenery.
  • Stoke Their Competitive Fires.
  • Think Up Their Own Reward.
  • Create A Fun Corner.
  • Assign Some Responsibility.
  • Leverage A Part of Their Daily Lives.
  • Give Them A Desk Pet.
Mar 7, 2023

What are 3 ways you can encourage students in the learning process? ›

Motivating Students
  • Encourage Students. Students look to teachers for approval and positive reinforcement, and are more likely to be enthusiastic about learning if they feel their work is recognized and valued. ...
  • Get Them Involved. ...
  • Offer Incentives. ...
  • Get Creative. ...
  • Draw Connections to Real Life. ...
  • Sponsored Online Programs.

What increases student motivation? ›

Give verbal praise for successful progress or accomplishment. Give personal attention to students. Provide informative, helpful feedback when it is immediately useful. Provide motivating feedback (praise) immediately following task performance.

What is the 20 time genius hour? ›

Genius Hour, also known as 20% Time, is a concept utilized by companies such as Google, 3M, and others. These companies allow their students a certain percentage of their work week (ex: 20%) to work on something they are passionate about, as long as it is an attempt to benefit the company, employees, etc...

What is the project percentage? ›

A project complete percentage is a calculation of the duration of a complete project divided by what tasks you already completed in the project. Project complete percentages display the amount of work on a project that a team has completed and how much work they have left to accomplish.

What is 20 percent of 150p? ›

Answer: 20% of 150 is 30.

Let's find 20% of 150.

What are the essential questions for Genius Hour? ›

Essential / Driving Question

Who will your project help? What difference will this project make? Why is this research important to you? Why do you want to do this project?

What is an example of genius hours? ›

Some examples of Genius Hour projects include: researching helicopters, creating a Rube Goldberg machine, and starting a project to help giraffes at the local zoo.

What makes a good Genius Hour project? ›

The most important thing with genius hour is to let students explore their interests. Don't cut the brainstorming short – an idea that they're passionate about makes the whole process much more valuable.

What is the 80 20 rule in projects? ›

Otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, the Pareto rule is a tool that can be used to improve project management efficiency. The rule states that 80% of the results of a project come from 20% of the work. Therefore, by focusing on the 20% of work that is most important, we can improve the efficiency of a project.

What is the ideal number of projects? ›

Research suggests 2-3 projects at a time is optimal for individual focus and collective scheduling. If you're asking people to juggle more than this then you are lowering their productivity. Too Many Projects will damage your business and drive you into a self-perpetuating low productivity fire-fighting culture.

What is the success rate of projects? ›

Most projects have a success rate of 56%.

However, there are many factors that go into this rate. For example, project teams with a mature system usually meet 77% of their goals. On the contrary, there are many factors that cause projects to fail.

What are the 6 components of Genius Hour? ›

In the book, and in her ISTE presentation, Andi talks about the “6 P's of Genius Hour”: Passion, Presentation, Pitch, Product, Project, and Plan.

What are the 6 Ps of Genius Hour? ›

Presented through an easy-to-follow six-step strategy, teachers will utilize the 6 P's―passion, plan, pitch, project, product, and presentation―as a map for students to follow as they create, design, and carry out projects.

What is the 3x3 rule studying? ›

So what is the Rule of Three for learning? Well it is as simple as one, two, three (not kidding). The Rule of Three for learning basically establishes the requirement that students be given the opportunity to learn something at least three times before they are expected to know it and apply it.

What is the 20 of 90? ›

Answer: 20% of 90 is 18.

How to solve 15 of 80? ›

15% of 80 is 12.

To find our answer, we first divide 80 by 100 to find the value of just 1% of 80. Next, we multiply the value of 1% of 80, which is 0.8, by 15 to find the value of 15% of 80.

How much is 80% out of 20%? ›

Answer: 80% of 20 is 16.

Let's find 80% of 20.


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