Middle school students crave “doing” in their educations. They want relevant, authentic, connected learning. So why are many of them sent to segmented courses, on tight schedules, with limited connections to the outside world? New research ties hands on, integrated, service and project based learning with personal growth in early adolescence. This presentation will show how service and project based learning are the right developmental fit for early adolescent students and give ideas about how create authentic learning opportunities to engage and excite students.