ST. CLOUD (WJON News) - Cathedral Middle School welcomed families, donors, and media members to school Friday to explain the new project-based learning model and show off some new spaces at the school.

This fall, Cathedral Middle School welcomed sixth graders to the school, prompting school administrators and teachers to rethink subjects and how they are taught.

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Parents and Donors listen to Ms. Hatlestad about the changes at Cathedral Middle School. Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
Parents and Donors listen to Ms. Hatlestad about the changes at Cathedral Middle School. Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
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The tour was welcomed to eat school lunch with the students. On the menu: your choice of meatball subs or popcorn chicken, soup of the day, and a salad bar. Since it was the last day of Catholic Education Week, there was a trivia contest going on during lunch, and prizes included packs of gum and other trinkets.

Once lunch was complete, the group was moved to the library, where Erin Hatlestad, the middle school Principal, explained the changes happening in education. Since every student has access to technology, teaching facts has been replaced by teaching what can be done with that information. She told the group that employers have noticed a lack of “soft skills” (communication, problem-solving, perseverance) in recent graduates nationwide, and have looked to education to solve those shortcomings.

The answer is project-based learning.

Photo: Cathedral Middle School
Photo: Cathedral Middle School
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The tour group was ushered through the new maker space, filled with students working on different projects. In one area, students were building experiments that could measure the rate chemicals leak through a liner and into the groundwater supply at landfills. In another space, students were studying calligraphy.

Students demonstrate their projects in the marker space at Cathedral Middle School. Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
Students demonstrate their projects in the marker space at Cathedral Middle School. Photo: Jeff McMahon, WJON.
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In a science room, tour participants got a look at how data is gathered. The project was studying acceleration and momentum using balls rolling down inclines. The data is measured at different points, and the data is recorded on a monitor. Students can see their data plotted, but also see other groups and how their data is similar.

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Moving on to the Culinary Arts room, the tour was treated to a hands-on project: students were creating smoothies with a purpose. The goal was to create a smoothie that tasted good and had the highest nutritional value per serving.

The tour ended with a question and answer session with administrators about project-based learning, the new middle school model, and other projects planned at Cathedral Middle School.

 


 

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