2012 PBL Summer Cup a Success

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PHMC hosted the second annual PBL Summer Cup on Tuesday, August 7th. Over 130 students from elementary and middle school Out-of-School Time programs throughout Philadelphia came to the Cardinal Bevilacqua Community Center to present projects to a panel of judges, perform for one another, and compete for the PBL Cup.

Part science fair and part talent show, the PBL Summer Cup featured a variety of project topics. The winner of this year’s competition, Boys and Girls Club-Wilson Park, used the upcoming Presidential Election as a springboard to study politics, the election process, and marketing strategies. At the end of their “Vote for Me!” project, BGC students applied their knowledge in a class-wide election.

Other winning projects gave OST students the opportunity to explore history and natural science. Students from Congreso de Latinos Unidos studied gardening and culinary arts in their “Garden Chef” project, preparing meals from the foods they grew. A group from Wordsworth Human Services-Palmer studied the contributions of African-Americans to the American West in their exciting project, “Black Cowboys.”

Students and staff members from 15 OST programs participated in the event, and judges came from organizations across Philadelphia. Pictures of the event are available on Facebook, at “Philly OST.”

New this year were awards for Critical Thinking and Professional Presentation. These awards emphasized the importance of 21st Century Skills, like communication and critical thinking, to Project-Based Learning.

The OST program at Catholic Social Services-Our Lady Help of Christians successfully integrated 21st Century Skills and rigorous inquiry. Students at Indochinese American Council-Logan gave a high-quality, professional presentation of their project to judges.

Karen Smuck-Tylek, former PBL Coordinator at PHMC, was excited to see OST programs continue to develop and strengthen their PBL implementation.

“The great thing about the PBL Summer Cup,” Smuck said, “is the opportunity to see staff and students take pride in their hard work. PBL is a process, and programs like these are always perfecting their approach.”

Jason Schwalm, an OST Program Specialist at PHMC, echoed the sentiment. “It’s clear that a number of these programs used their experience in last year’s PBL Cup to refine their presentations.”

“I was particularly impressed by the programs that integrated their performance and poster presentation into one cohesive project.”

Catholic Social Services and the program at the Cardinal Bevilacqua Center were instrumental to the success of this year’s PBL Summer Cup, having provided space and support for the event. Meanwhile, plans are already underway for next year’s competition.

For more information about recent successes in the Philadelphia OST network, see the Fall 2012 issue of the OST Highlighter.

by: Jason Schwalm

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