Engaging in Increasingly Complex Projects

Youth engage in projects that involve organizing actions over time.

The SEL Challenge programs typically center around an extensive project that progresses in intensity and skill level over time, usually the course of a program or school year. Through this approach, youth are able to:

  • Build project-specific knowledge and skills (e.g., carpentry, leadership, public speaking), and
  • Conduct projects that require organizing multiple, cumulative steps of work (e.g., creating a work of art, planning an event or a service project).

All of the programs provide opportunities for youth to learn specific skills in order to tackle the projects and tasks they encounter in the program. Skills may include: boat-building skills, outdoor survival skills, or skills necessary for producing a theatrical piece, creating a film, or conducting a service learning or leadership project. The technical skills learned in the programs vary according to the projects, but each project presents an opportunity for youth to build task-specific knowledge and skills.

Throughout the course of the program, participants take on subsequent projects that build on this early foundation. The completion of one step sets the stage for the next, and opens up opportunities to learn a new set of skills and activities at the same time. For instance, after identifying an issue of concern for a community service project, youth must decide a specific goal for their project. Next, youth may work on fundraising, organizing, or building community relationships before undertaking their primary objective. Over time, the plans are executed, often resulting in a culminating event, such as the launch of a boat, the public debut of a theater or video production, or a personal outdoor final challenge.

Further Reading

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What building blocks do you use to help participants grow their skills from foundation to real world problem solving?