As Swiss Psychologist, Jean Piaget, once stated, “Knowledge is a consequence of experience.” 

There is a lot of truth to this statement and as education continues to evolve, Project-Based Learning (PBL) has become more recognized. In fact, many schools have actually taken on a Project Based Learning Model in offering their students the opportunity to apply many of their core learnings to these projects as part of their curriculum.

Today we have interviewed two leaders in our education community on project based education – Paul Romani, Director of Pear Tree School and Owen Hann, V.P. of Operations for Steamoji – about what Project Based Learning means to them and their students, how they go about offering such emergent programs, and what they feel the benefits are for the students who engage in these programs.


BC PARENT:  Can you tell us why project based learning is such an important approach in learning today?  

PAUL ROMANI: Absolutely! While project-based learning is an important part of our approach at Pear Tree School, we take it a step further with our unique and innovative approach based on theme-based learning.

BC PARENT:  What exactly does theme-based learning mean to you?

PAUL: By embracing theme-based learning as the foundation, we create a dynamic and immersive educational experience that captivates students’ imagination and ignites their passion for learning. Rather than just focusing on individual projects, our students delve into comprehensive themes that span across subjects, allowing them to make meaningful connections and apply knowledge and skills to real life.

BC PARENT: This is such a wonderful way to expand upon the learning and branch it off into a deeper inquiry-based approach to every subject as they come up in the learning process!

PAUL: The benefits of our theme-based learning approach are multifaceted. Firstly, it promotes a deeper understanding of concepts as students explore them through multiple perspectives, fostering critical thinking and holistic learning. 

BC PARENT:  This is also such a great way to reach every student as they all learn so differently for so many reasons.

PAUL: It also empowers students to become active participants in their education, encouraging them to take ownership of their learning journey and develop a natural curiosity to seek answers independently.

BC PARENT: Can you explain how this type of learning also better preparesd our students for the real world.

PAUL: Our theme-based learning is designed to be highly engaging and relevant to real-world scenarios. This relevancy translates into enhanced retention and application of knowledge, preparing students to face challenges beyond the classroom walls confidently.

At Pear Tree School, project-based learning is an extension of our theme-based approach. Projects become an exciting and hands-on expression of the knowledge acquired during the theme exploration. Students collaborate and apply their learning to create something tangible, whether it’s a model, artwork, presentation, or solution to a real-world problem.

In essence, while project-based learning has its place in education, we elevate the learning experience with theme-based learning. Our students not only engage in individual projects but also embark on an enriching journey of comprehensive themes, inspiring a lifelong love for learning and nurturing the next generation of forward-thinking change-makers.

This interview was provided by Paul Romani, Director at Pear Tree School. “At Pear Tree School, our Why is to guide children in discovering their true calling and developing a deep sense of purpose, empowering them to leave a meaningful legacy that positively impacts the lives of others. We achieve this through The Pear Tree Method, which incorporates theme and project-based learning.”



Pear Tree Education has been offering the ultimate Vancouver spring camps for boys and girls aged 10-14 since 2012. We have spring camps for up to 2 weeks (March 18th-28th). Week 1 is a 5-day week. Week 2 is a 4-day week. All of our spring camps are designed by Pear Tree’s directors. Led by experienced Vancouver school teachers, our spring camps offer exceptional levels of safety, enjoyment and education! Our courses fill up very fast, so make sure that you book soon to avoid disappointment!


BC PARENT: What is the maker academy?

OWEN HANN: Steamoji is a place for kids to build, invent and learn by doing. We have a number of tools at our academies like 3D printers, robotics components and laser cutters that you wouldn’t find in most adult makerspaces! The academy offers an engaging in-person experience from badge-in to badge-out as our apprentices design, build and code their way through various projects delivered by short videos with the help of passionate facilitators who support them through the process.

The maker academy is a place for discovery, collaboration and innovation, and every visit provides apprentices with an opportunity to work through a unique project while applying the Steamoji Iterative Design Process. We think this process is the same whether designing something simple for 3D printing or building a company!

BC PARENT: Tell us about your Build To Solve curriculum.

OWEN: Our 400-hour Build to Solve™ curriculum complements and enriches children’s school studies by exposing them to new technologies in fabrication, physical computing, engineering, and digital arts. With these foundational skills, students are then challenged with problems and encouraged to imagine, create, and improve their own solutions. 

Schools are often constrained by slow-changing state standards, school board requirements, existing infrastructure  and available personnel. If they are exposing children to these subjects it is often in a very restricted, ‘sampling’ fashion. Steamoji aims to fill this gap by producing a structured, and reinforcing, project-based curriculum designed to provide 400 hours of student activity.

BC PARENT: How does this work?

OWEN: We take a broad approach to STEM, as opposed to siloed, hyper-linear pathways. There are many reasons for this. For starters, teaching kids in this format gives them a chance to try out all sorts of different subject areas, from coding and computing to engineering and design. They get the chance to explore, experiment, and organically figure out where their interests lie.

Our hybrid learning model includes on-screen lessons from skill-specific experts, with in-person support and guidance from Facilitators in the Academy. This dynamic approach means that we’re able to give kids access to expert teachers around the world, while ensuring they have a fun and engaging experience within our Academies.

BC PARENT: Why does this work?

OWEN: We do this because this is how the world works. If and when our Apprentices decide to move onto further education or enter the job market, they’re increasingly unlikely to be focused on one, hyper-niche thing, delivered in a repetitive manner. The Steamoji format prepares Apprentices with an entire suite of ways to approach problem solving, creativity, testing, iteration, and above all, resilience.

Steamoji goes way beyond teaching kids a basic understanding of how to code a program or how to 3D print a structure. We’re equipping them with hands-on abilities and strategic thinking. And when you consider how much technology has changed in the last 12 months – let alone over the next 12 years – it’s this combination that will make all the difference.

BC PARENT: Who do you feel is the ideal student for this type of learning?

OWEN: We train builders, makers, inventors and entrepreneurs from age 5 all the way up to 18. For our youngest apprentices in the Oji Junior program, this looks like hands-on, tinkering projects that prepare them with the fine motor and digital literacy skills they’ll need to enter the Build to Solve™ program. For our oldest apprentices this eventually takes the form of a capstone project in which they identify a real world problem, then design and build their own solution to that problem, whether that’s a robot that performs a specific task or a unique invention that solves a problem they’re really passionate about.

This interview was provided by Owen Hann, V.P. of Operations for Steamoji. Steamoji is a maker academy for kids that trains builders, makers, inventors and entrepreneurs. Our 400-hour structured and reinforcing Build to Solve™ curriculum teaches your child about new technologies in the subject pathways of fabrication (3D printing and laser cutting), physical computing (robotics and coding), engineering (applied math) and digital arts (applied design) as well as other skills that will be critical for the future job market.



Get hands-on with coding, 3D printing, robotics, and more. A fun week of discovery, experimentation, and invention for kids. Ready, set, explore. At Steamoji camps, kids will learn essential skills with new technologies across all the awesome subjects we explore at Steamoji. From catapult competitions that will engage their engineering-brains to coding and designing an RGB desk lamp, kids get into a growth-mindset and problem-solving zone. By the end of the week, they’ll have become makers, entrepreneurs, and inventors – ready to dream up their next big idea. Let’s get building!


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