GWA In the News

Gateway Academy Students Tackle Real-World Challenges Through Hands-On Projects
Posted on 11/09/2017
Gateway Academy students designed and built their own models of vehicles that run on alternative energy.

Gateway Academy was recently featured in Connections the Association of Metropolitan School Districts' newsletter. You can read the article below. 

Gateway Academy Students Tackle Real-World Challenges Through Hands-On Projects 

How can we, as engineers, develop a mode of transportation that reduces the use of fossil fuels? How can we, as a community, help victims of Hurricane Harvey? These are only a couple of the driving questions that students at Gateway Academy, a District 192 choice school, asked when they began this school year. At Farmington Area Public Schools, District 192, personalized learning is more than a catchphrase. Innovative, personalized learning is an integral part of the strategic plan which shows up throughout the district but nowhere more so than Gateway Academy.

“We all have a spark — something that ignites our curiosity and drive to learn. Gateway Academy was designed to help students find and follow their sparks,” said District 192 Superintendent Jay Haugen. Any student in grades 5-8 who has a driving curiosity and a desire to tackle real-world challenges may choose to attend Gateway Academy. There students work to find their spark and advocate for the direction of their own education. How? By asking driving questions, identifying challenges, and solving them. Gateway students complete hands-on projects, collaborate with local and global organizations, and dedicate time to serving in the community.

Are We There Yet?

To kick off the school year, students asked how they could develop transportation that reduces the use of fossil fuels. To answer this driving question they explored current transportation options that are fueled by alternative energy, including meeting with a local organization of Tesla owners. They were able to explore the electric cars, see them in action, and ask questions. Then the students set out to design their own modes of transportation fueled by alternative energy sources. Through this project students gained skills and knowledge in several content areas including math, science, and literacy. More than that, they were able to apply their knowledge to a real-life challenge and work on something that mattered to them on a personal level.

Hurricane Harvey Relief

Gateway Academy regularly engages in service learning projects such as cleaning up parks, visiting care centers, and conducting food drives. When Hurricane Harvey struck, the students felt an immediate and personal need to help those who had suffered from the storm. They planned and hosted several fundraising events, including selling hot chocolate, a pajama day, and a hat day, to raise over $1,000 for schools, classrooms, and students affected by the hurricane.

Personal Projects

While Gateway students often work in groups, they also complete personal projects throughout the school year. These projects are shared with the public at Project Showcases, where students answer questions and receive feedback about the work they’ve undertaken. Project topics range as widely as the student’s interests and personalities. Some have chosen to study ciphers and crime scene forensics, others have focused on the origins of ballet. Students use the many tools available to them to create interactive presentations, whether that be a hammer and nails or a 3D printer. “My children look forward to going to school much more now that they know that when they go there they’re allowed to really focus on their strengths and find their sparks in things that really interest them and yet take them farther,” said Roger Nord, a parent of two Gateway Academy students.

The mission of Farmington Area Public Schools is to ensure each student reaches his or her highest aspirations. For some this means following a traditional education model. For other students it means being a part of a multiage classroom, engaging in a flipped classroom model, or undertaking a project-based learning approach. Gateway Academy is one part offering students a variety of choices and encouraging them to drive their own education journey. For more information about Gateway Academy, please visit

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