Lancaster Mennonite Middle School held a “A World Portrait Exhibition Evening” Thursday, January 12, 2017, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Lancaster’s Southern Market, 100 S. Queen St. Lancaster. Students displayed artwork, stories and portraits gathered for their “100 People Project: If the World were 100 People Represented by the Residents of Lancaster.”

To begin their study about global population data, LMMS students discussed the various groups with which they identify. After attaching hooks to different places in a classroom, students chose a ball of yarn and took turns looping it around the hooks that described them. “The result may look to some like a big tangle,” said teacher Janelle Thomas, “but to us it appears colorful, interconnected, and messy in the best of ways!”

Students discussed similarities between this project and the ways in which different groups of people interact. “Sometimes it takes negotiation and cooperation, sometimes lines are crossed and knots occur,” Thomas said, “but in the end there’s a really beautiful web of experience and insight.”

Students moved from there into researching data sets for a variety of questions such as global healthcare, racial and geographic groupings, and genetic traits. Projects will be displayed at LMMS’s second exhibition of the year January 12.

LMMSConnect! is the name for the project-based learning (PBL) that engages all 7th and 8th grade students at the Lancaster Campus of Lancaster Mennonite School. PBL is a teaching method that invites students to acquire knowledge and skills through investigation, integration and synthesis of a complex question, problem or challenge experienced in the “real world”.

This approach to learning requires students to show understanding of the question, problem or challenge, actively respond and present their findings to a public audience of their peers, families and other community members. Through engagement in project-based learning, students become leaders of their own learning, practicing critical skills necessary for success in higher levels of education and beyond. These skills include: communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.