Connecting Classrooms to Professionals

What is inquiry and Project-Based Learning?

Inquiry-based learning and project-based learning are two approaches that educators can use to engage students in authentic learning. Authentic learning happens when students can connect their findings and experiences from something they did in school to the complexities of the real world. This leads to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the topic.

In both inquiry- and project-based learning, students are at the centre of the research process. Teachers go from being the “sage on the stage” the “guide on the side”, taking on the role of a facilitator instead of a being a presenter of knowledge. The main difference between the inquiry- and project-based learning approaches is whether students are given a problem to solve (project-based learning) or they can pick and choose what they want to learn more deeply about (inquiry-based learning).

Let's say your class is learning about sustainability. If you were to take a project-based approach, you might want to learn more about how the school cafeteria can be more sustainable, and ask students to find out if it is better to use glass dishware or compostable dishware. Students could work collaboratively to investigate the benefits and impacts of both types of dishware, and each group could present their findings to the school administration to consider their options and make their cafeteria more sustainable.

On the other hand, you could use an inquiry-based approach and ask students how the school cafeteria could be more sustainable. This time students can choose their area of focus around the topic of sustainability. One group might be interested in learning how to reduce food waste, while another group might want to find out how to make their cafeteria more energy-efficient. The groups could create a project around their topic of inquiry, and present their findings to the class, to school administrators and other stakeholders to make a change in their school. Through both approaches, students are learning about sustainability in a way that is relevant and meaningful, leading to a deeper understanding of the concept.

Through a program like ours, teachers could invite a professional who works in sustainable event planning to share their insights with the class about the pros and cons of each type of dishware. Or perhaps a classroom could connect with someone from the city composting facility to answer questions about food waste. Through this interaction with professionals, students get an authentic learning experience, creating a connection between what they learn in class to a real-world situation.

Here are some helpful resources to learn more about inquiry-based learning and project-based learning:

The Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium Project-Based Learning Guide
The Galileo Educational Network Focus on Inquiry PDF/eBook
The Weed Lake Project- a cross-curricular inquiry on a local wetland that helped grade 2-4 students connect to the natural environment

ACEE has now completed our Spring 2019 pilot for our new program: Connecting Classrooms to Professionals. Click here for testimonials and success stories, and click here to sign up for Fall 2019!



Supporting Inquiry- and Project-Based Learning

At ACEE, we support environmental education in all shapes and forms. Teachers have told us that students engaged in inquiry- and project-based learning would benefit from bringing in professionals to answer questions and support projects, and we want to make that happen. Our new Connecting Classrooms to Professionals program will match classrooms with working professionals in various fields to help advance learning in topics surrounding climate, energy, the environment, and sustainability.

ACEE is piloting the Connecting Classrooms to Professionals Program in February-June 2019 and we would love to hear from you and receive feedback to help us make this an even greater program. Please contact

How does the program work?

Click on the photos to read our full program overview.


Meet our team of professionals

Read about the professionals participating in this year's program here. If you are a professional who is interested in participating in the program, please contact Maria Granados.

Are you with an Energy Revealed school? 

Teachers who are in the Energy Revealed program looking to participate in the Connecting Classrooms to Professionals Program can click here for information.

To submit a project and be paired with an energy efficiency professional, please click here to be redirected to our sign-up page.

For questions about Connecting Classrooms with Professionals for Energy Revealed teachers, please contact