6th Grade Adopts Endangered Species as Part of PBL Project

Sixth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School adopted not one, but two endangered species as part of a broader Project Based Learning (PBL) project in science class.

PBL projects are part of the regular approach to learning at the charter school.  PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to authentic, complex questions, problems or challenges.

In this instance, students tackled not only learning about specific animal species and all the science related to that task, but also the ecological, environmental, economic and social circumstances that are threatening the existence of the species.  They gained insight and understanding of the fact that it is not as easy as it may seem to change the factors threatening animals.

These students learned about and found ways to help endangered species across the globe.  They researched various animals, narrowed down their choices, and came up with ideas to raise money to help their selected species. The students finalized their plans and raised enough money to symbolically adopt both a polar bear and a Sumatran rhinoceros.

Jessie Karagenes, sixth grade science teacher at the school, said, “These students have diligently worked through the standards in this science unit.”  Karagenes went on to explain that the connections these students made to one of several 21st century skills that the school stresses, thinking globally, made this project even more impactful for the class.


7th Grade Science — Human Body

Earlier in the school year, seventh graders worked a project based learning project (PBL) to discover how the systems in the human body work together. Students were tasked with creating a life size diagram of the human body-illustrating three of the systems. Additionally, students created multimedia presentations to explain how the systems of the body function together.

Envirothon Team Competes Today!

There are four students participating in a regional competition called Envirothon today. Envirothon’s goal is to teach students about wildlife, aquatics, soil, forestry, and current events involving the environment. The students started preparing for the event in October and started the Envirothon elective in January.

These photos show the students completeing a training day in Waynesville on February 1, 2018.

At today’s competition, if they place in the top three, they will go on to compete in the state competition. Good luck students!

4th Grade Science — Minerals

Recently, fourth graders headed outside to The Outdoor Learning Center to study rocks and minerals. They examined different rocks and minerals and used properties such as streak, color, luster, hardness and breakage in order to identify each by name.

5th Grade STEM — Students Use Pop Culture “Escape Rooms” Concept to Learn Science

Fifth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School recently had to use their science sleuthing skills to “escape” from class.  That’s because science teacher, Jay Ward, along with School Success Coordinator, Cheryl Catuto planned a lesson to teach force and motion based on the pop culture “escape room” concept.


An escape room is a physical adventure game in which teams of players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategy to escape a locked room.  Escape rooms have popped up all over the country including in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

To learn about force and motion, students had to use the clues given to them to open a series of locks to a secret, hidden toolbox. They had to do everything from find the missing words while answering questions to decode clues using 3D glasses in order to find hidden messages and additional clues.

The lesson was concluded by conducting an experiment using Mentos candy and soda water to measure force and distance between variables.  Ward said, “The teamwork and excitement generated by the escape room activity had a huge impact on my students. The game aspect of it made it super fun and has cemented the science concepts into their brains.”

Checking in on First Grade Fairy Houses

First graders have been working on their fairy houses in The Outdoor Learning Center busily since school started this year. Kindergarten, First and Second grade students all have fairy houses. It’s becoming a fairy village!


This ongoing project affords rich educational opportunities for these young students.


Imaginative play, self-directed skill building, sharing spaces and cooperation, engineering and construction, are just some examples. Plus, Ms. Emily is always sure to include science as part of the exploration.

IMG_8380 IMG_8381

These fairy house may seem like all play . . . but much is being learned in the process!