Project-Based Learning initiatives create an atmosphere in which students engage directly with material in a way that feels authentic because they are being asked to solve a problem rather than discover a singular answer. Students realize that they receive meaning from a project in proportion to the effort, coordination and creativity they bring to the endeavor. We feel that students may not learn everything about a topic or even exercise every possible skill, but that what they DO learn and the process they discover for engineering success will stick with them.
The goal was for students to familiarize themselves with the experience of Muslim pilgrims going on the Hajj, one of the Five Pillars of Islam and gain respect and understanding of the significance and effort involved in making this pilgrimage. We divided them into small teams and each team’s task was to create a Hajj Travel Service that would offer everything needed by modern-day American Muslims who want to travel to Makkah (Mecca) for the next Hajj.
The “deliverables” on this project are three-fold: create a thirty-second to one-minute video commercial for their travel service, produce a large wall poster, and a small paper brochure. The products are scored according to a published rubric.
– Investigation of the logistics, events, obligations, and spiritual discipline needed for a quality Hajj experience.
– Respect for the Islamic faith
– Cooperation and coordination of skills and communication abilities
– Application of real-world knowledge such as time, calendar, cost
– Appreciation for the cultural needs of Americans traveling to Saudi Arabia, documentation, cultural expectations
– Experience with video editing, layout and graphic design, clear communication, respectful attitude toward a religion unfamiliar to many students at our school
We began with a large-screen video of thousands of pilgrims circling the sacred Ka’aba with the sound of the Call to Prayer in the playing through the large speakers. Most students did not know or recognize what this was about so they were mystified as to what those moving dots were, and gradually realized it was a throng of people, dressed alike, all performing the same action.
The planned culminating activity is to present their commercials, posters and brochure to an audience of peers and teachers with guest from the local Muslim community (drawn from the Muslim faculty and families in our midst).