READINGTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (Hunterdon County) – Hunterdon County Deputy Director Commissioner Jeff Kuhl and Commissioner Shaun Van Doren, along with Hunterdon County Sheriff Fred Brown, County Clerk Mary Melfi and Hunterdon County Prosecutor Renee Robeson recently attended Readington Middle School’s “Project Citizen” Showcase, an event that features civic presentations by 8th grade students.
The purpose of the showcase is for students to recognize issues or problems within the community, and then identify solutions in the form of policy that requires government involvement. The students followed a five-step project plan that focused first on identifying a Problem, then researching various Perspectives, to identifying Public Policy and involve Stakeholders, to finally proposing an Action Plan as a potential solution to the problem.
Commissioner Van Doren listened to various presentations and said, “I am most impressed with the thought process and work that each of these students have put into their projects. The Project Citizen Research program is a great example of a practical, first-hand approach to learning about our system of government and how students can understand and engage in real time problem solving.”
Topics for projects included themes such as, Affordable Housing, Inflation, Social Media Restrictions, Public Transportation, Open Space and Farmland Preservation, gas prices, Bullying Policies in schools, Food Waste in Hunterdon County, and the recent ban on TikTok to name a few.
The Project Citizen curriculum is teacher led and emphasizes the fundamentals of the public policymaking process. The teacher’s guide features detailed instruction and sample worksheets for students to complete that stimulates the curriculum’s cumulative activity into the completion of a project portfolio.
“This project is the ultimate lesson of learning by doing. These students are gaining knowledge and perspective on government that could never be achieved by just reading a book. The critical thinking skills these students have developed gives me hope for the Future of America,” Kuhl said.
The Showcase is a way for students to display their research and present their policy solutions to their classroom and community. Showcases are also held at the state and national levels, where classes have the opportunity to participate and share their work with other classes from across their state or nation.