Journal of Educational Research and Practice




This study examined the Community Super Investigators Club, through which we aimed to apply mathematics and literacy skills by using project-based learning (PBL) to investigate elementary students’ interest in learning how to improve the environment for animals. PBL is a teaching method used to improve critical thinking skills around a project that is based on students’ questions. The study used a mixed-method design to examine the following research questions: How do students engage in PBL on topics relevant to their community in an afterschool club? How can critical math and literacy skills be integrated with community engagement? How did the experience in the club influence students’ beliefs about math and literacy? During Community Super Investigators Club, participating second- and third-grade students chose the topic of improving the environment for animals. Students learned about the following topics: reducing waste and recycling, the amount of trash produced around the world, using recyclable items to build bird feeders, and how trash in the oceans affects animals. Researchers interviewed and surveyed students. Students reported that they could make a positive impact in their community by not littering, reusing materials to minimize waste, and turning off the water while brushing their teeth. As a final project, students selected an outlet or person (e.g. newspaper, governor) to write a postcard to voice their concerns about the environment by including at least one fact and one proposed solution. Implications for practice are integrated into the findings and discussion.