Prairie G2 students share two months of work at Exhibition Night

CEDAR RAPIDS — High school student projects typically have a limited audience; usually just the teacher and the student.

Prairie High School’s Global Generation program wants to change that.

The 100-student school within a school for 10th graders had its first Exhibition Night on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. Students demonstrated the projects they worked on during the first part of the school year to parents and other members of the community while dressed in their finest.

The Global Generation program, which is in its first year, uses a curriculum model called project-based learning where the students spend most of their time working on projects with other students as opposed to traditional classroom activities such as lectures. The Prairie version is based on a similar one in the Muscatine school district and also takes inspiration from the High Tech High charter schools in San Diego, Calif.

The exhibition night is a huge component of the program, as students need to show the community the projects they’ve been working on, said English teacher Nathan Pruett. Whether their projects are good or bad, they have to stand behind them in a public setting.

“Many of them are presenting their academic work to adults for the first time,” he said.

The projects themselves covered all of the different subject areas students are studying, but each has an added real world component.

Hannah Kapler, 16, took a picture of a cupboard in her family’s house and traced the different shapes as part of her geometry project. She said the project helped her learn the different vocabulary associated with the subject.

Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, was the subject of Andrew Naber’s history project. The 15-year-old interviewed a chemist as part of the project to get to know Nobel’s impact on the occupation.

Marquan Wilder, 16, studied ancient Greece and needed to find area landmarks that were heavily influenced by the Greeks, such as the Paramount Theatre and the Linn County Courthouse.

All three students said they were really enjoying their experience in the Global Generation program, also called G Squared.

“In normal classes, we get lectures, but in G Squared, they just let you do it,” said Wilder.

“I’m very nervous, but so far it’s been a lot of fun,” said Naber. “I’ve been working with a lots of new people and making new friends.”

Many of the parents in attendance were excited to see their students getting experience making a presentation in a public setting — experience that may come in handy later on when they need to interview for a job.

“What’s really intriguing to me is that they are being held accountable for their work,” said parent Julie Willard. “They’re really coming out of their shell.”