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Online Professional Learning and
Technical Assistance for
21st Century Community Learning Centers


August 20, 2013

All programs strive to provide youth with hands-on learning that is memorable, meaningful, and authentic. Hands-on learning is also a component that is central to any well-planned project. That’s why project-based learning (including civic learning and engagement projects) is an excellent opportunity for programs.

When building a project, staff can ensure hands-on learning and provide youth with real-life experiences in their community by applying the approach of active investigation. As active investigators, students learn more about community issues from a firsthand perspective instead of just learning about them from facts and figures. Active investigation can mean charting the locations of garbage receptacles to discover gaps that might be leading to a litter problem. It can involve attending a city council meeting and asking a well-planned question about the proposed plans for new, safer lighting near the community center. Students can also think on a national or a global scale and actively investigate issues by connecting virtually with students and adults in another location.

There are many forms of active investigation that can fit your project and your students; check out these examples and see what might work for your next civic learning and engagement project.  


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