Learning While Doing

Jeremiah Sweeny starts his day at Purdue Polytechnic High School at 8:45 a.m. He and about 15 of his classmates map out their daily plans to meet their academic and project plan goals, while teachers track students’ competency levels, academic needs and progress. The first part of his day – called his Personalized Learning Community – also includes instruction on teamwork and employability skills. 

Throughout the school day, Jeremiah meets with his project team to conduct research, identify market needs, brainstorm solutions, build prototypes, conduct trials and test hypotheses – all part of the design-thinking process that helps students take their projects from idea to solution. 

Jeremiah’s teachers are mentors, facilitating teams, helping students problem-solve, and providing hands-on assignments. For Jeremiah, that meant recently learning about Newton’s Laws by building a roller coaster for marbles, reading technical articles and learning the physics and mathematics principles associated with Newton’s Laws. 

He’s given the freedom to work with his team during the school day, grab lunch anytime between 11:30 and 1:30 and seek out teachers and mentors when he needs it. 

“I really like the freedom they give us,” he said. “This is how we are expected to get work done in real life.”