By: Kathy Lohse

*This is part four of a six-part series exploring Projects with Purpose. Find part three here. 

How do we tap into the knowledge of our local community?

After multiple prototype iterations, the students brought up the need to test their final design. They asked for an engineer to check the design and give feedback. Using CommunityShare, we invited Calvin Clark an engineer and Borton parent, to come meet with a group of students and give feedback about the basic design.

Calvin, a local engineer, gives the Shooting Stars feedback on their prototype.

The students gave Calvin an overview of the project, shared their prototype and asked for feedback. Calvin complimented them on their material choice of rebar. He introduced students to the idea of having triangles in the structure to help make it more stable. Then the students presented the information to their classmates. After incorporating the feedback, I took all the notes, drawings and photos to my husband who built the structure frame out of rebar. With a frame ready to go, the students realized they would need to involve the rest of the school community. 

How do we build support from our school community?

To start, The Shooting Star Room students wrote letters to all the classrooms and the Borton Community to explain the purpose of the sculpture and to request the help of the community to watch over and protect the sculpture.  

Evanee, a 2nd grader and catalyst for the project, keeps track of the 100 hearts

Sheila, The Shooting Star Room teacher, and I introduced the idea of how many sculptures and benches at Borton are dedicated to people who have changed Borton. The students decided to dedicate the art sculpture to Karen Hobson, a former Borton teacher, and to ask her family and friends to come design hearts in her honor. Inviting these people into the project helped the students to “get helpers” (one of the tasks the students initially thought of) because glazing and designing the 100 hearts was an enormous task.

Some of the students asked if any students at Borton had Miss Karen as a teacher. We had six fifth graders who had Karen in first grade. The Shooting Stars invited these students to design a heart for their former teacher. One of the most touching moments of the project was observing a small group of second graders explaining the 100 Heart sign in chart to the fifth graders and how to create their own unique designs on the hearts. The fifth graders were attentive to the second graders, followed their directions and then expressed their gratitude to them for being included. 

A 5th grader who had Miss Karen designing a heart in her memory.

The staff from Borton and Karen’s family were invited by me to come and design a heart in her honor. Again the second graders took charge of assisting in the sign in process and explaining the process of the design process. 

Wondering what happened after all 100 hearts were designed? Find out more about the next phase –


  • I like, I wish, What if… Use these statement starters as a quick feedback protocol for students or community members to offer their thoughts. To make it anonymous, write statements on sticky notes and post them on the work.


  • CommunityShare provides teachers an opportunity to connect with local community members who can serve as mentors, project collaborators, guest speakers, content-area consultants, student competition judges, field trip hosts, and more.

About the Educators:

Kathy Lohse is the PBL Coordinator at Borton Magnet School. Sheila Encinas is the teacher in The Shooting Star room. Borton Magnet School, in Tucson, Arizona, prioritizes Project-Based Learning and Systems Thinking.

You must be logged in to post a comment.