Make Projects Authentic

Challenge-Solving Projects address a real life challenge or a role-played, simulated challenge.  As students realize they can effect positive, real-life  change –  students’ learning goals and future work goals expand.

1. A challenge-solving project is relevant to students’ lives or is a challenge they actually will face when they become adults.


  • How can we make friends and keep friends that are right for us? Students could create multimedia presentations and other art forms that convey students’ findings.
  • What can our community do to lessen climate change? Students could form task forces to study possible effects of climate change on their community and recommend actions that could be taken.
  • As citizens, what is our advice to our senators and members of congress on whether the U.S. should intervene in a conflict inside country X that is causing a humanitarian crisis?


 2. A challenge-solving project meets a real need in the world or real people use the products students create.


  • How can our local park be better for children? Students propose designs for a new play area in a nearby park.
  • How can citizens help to keep our community clean? Students plan and could conduct an environmental clean up effort in their community.
  • How we help more people enjoy reading? Students could create a website for young people about books they like.
  • How can we bring more visitors to our town or county? Students could write a guide and produce podcasts for visitors to historic sites in their county.
  • How can local business “X” increase its sales? Students serve as consultants to local business or businesses advising them on how to increase sales to young people.
  • How can we support a respectful culture in our school? Students develop a conflict resolution plan for their school.


3. A challenge-solving project is a simulated challenge that could occur in real life. Students’ interest is piqued through one or more hooks that draw them in (e.g. a speaker, a skit, a letter, a compelling article, other reading, or a video) and through role-playing.


  • Role-playing “New World” colonist leaders – What can we do so that our colony will survive and thrive?
  • Role-playing architects – What is a good design for a local theater? Goal could be want the theater to hold X number of people comfortably. Constraints could be cost, zoning, building codes for safety.
  • Role-playing United Nations advisors to a country that has just overthrown a dictator – What should the new leaders do to start and sustain a strong democracy?
  • Role-playing scientists competing for NASA funding – Which planet in our solar system should be explored by the next space probe?
  • Role playing scientists pitching ideas for a new TV science reality show – What ideas would be informative and captivating for a reality show on the geologic history of the earth?


     Larmer, J. (May 24, 2012). What does it take for a project to be “authentic”? . Blog. BIE




              © Copyright 2016 Lee Anna Stirling




2 thoughts on “Make Projects Authentic

  1. Marina

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