Lansing Elementary School Receives Award for Excellence in Project-Based Learning

New Tech Network announces Attwood New Tech Magnet School as the winner of the 2020 Best in Network Award

New Tech Network announces Attwood New Tech Magnet School as the winner of the 2020 Best in Network Award

​​​New Tech Network (NTN), a national nonprofit and design partner for comprehensive K – 12 school change, has announced Attwood New Tech Magnet School as the  Elementary winner of the Best in Network award for their project “Tiny Home Builders: Animal Edition.”

Each year, NTN bestows the Best in Network Award to a project that successfully combines active exploration, application, authenticity, and academic rigor while creating rich learning experiences for students that challenge and inspire the network’s practice of project-based learning.

Attwood New Tech teachers Caitlin Donnelly, Haleigh Lane, and Jonathan Rush developed the project for fifth grade students by posing this driving question, “How can we design and build shelters that meet the needs of our homeless animals?”

Through community partnerships that included Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter, the Capital Area Humane Society, WILX News 10 and Home Depot, students at Attwood New Tech designed and built individual shelters for local animals in need. The students also worked with local architecture firm C2AE to help with the designs and Christman (a Lansing-based construction firm) to assist with the construction of the shelters. The project required students to develop significant math and engineering skills to design the pet shelters.

Groups of students worked together to research animal needs, and tested their designs by building 3D models. Part of the testing was to see if the shelters could withstand natural elements and adapt building plans accordingly. The final construction for some of the shelters was suspended when school closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both teachers and students expressed their eagerness to finish building the shelters. The shelters will be donated to Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter.

“When we conceptualized this project, we knew it was going to be a challenge, but I never could have foreseen how impactful this was going to become for the students, the community, and for us,” said teacher and Co-Project Designer Caitlin Donnelly. “There are quite a few students who are considering the construction field because of this project. Seeing how curriculum standards and ‘real world’ application matched up to create something amazing made me so proud as an educator.”

Attwood New Tech Magnet School is a member of the New Tech Network, one of 200 schools in 28 states and Australia. NTN partners with schools and districts to design a project-based learning curriculum that supports students to graduate ready to pursue college and career.

“’Tiny Home Builders: Animal Edition’ is an exemplary elementary school project. The creativity, planning and passion that Caitlin, Haleigh and Jonathan brought to this project is tremendous. They demonstrated the powerful learning that takes place when students are challenged to solve real problems in their community, no matter the grade level,” said Lydia Dobyns, President and CEO of New Tech Network. “We were especially impressed by the strong set of local partners who helped make math and engineering accessible and meaningful to these young scholars.”

Member schools throughout the network will have access to the winning project design details and the work will be featured at this summer’s virtual gathering of educators from across the country.

“I liked that we got to have fun and learn at the same time,” said Angel Hobbs, a fifth-grade student at Attwood New Tech. “I learned that it is important to listen, respect others, the space around you, and be safe. I also learned that in order to get anything done you have to listen to other people’s ideas, not just your own, and that you have to cooperate with everyone. This project is impactful to me because it is good for everyone to work together.”

Learn more about the Best in Network Award and winning projects at

About New Tech Network 

New Tech Network, a national nonprofit organization, is a leading design partner for comprehensive K-12 school change. NTN has successfully guided over 200 schools and districts in 28 states with a whole school, systemic approach where student skills are valued as much as test scores. New Tech Network provides professional development and coaching for teachers and school leaders to inspire and engage all students through authentic and challenging work. The New Tech school model features multiple student learning outcomes combined with pervasive project-based learning, an inclusive school-wide culture and the real-world use of technology tools and resources.

Source: New Tech Network