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5 Examples of Project-Based Learning
Project-based learning is a method of teaching that gets students more involved in the educational process. Students are assigned a project or challenge and they must rely on using and developing their skills to meet the objectives of the assigned project. Students work in teams and learn how to interact with their classmates to achieve the common goal. Projects encourage leadership, creativity, research, organization and good people skills.
Creating Interesting and Unique Projects
Possibilities for specific project-based learning assignments are almost endless. An instructor can get ideas for his or her class by reviewing projects completed by other teachers in their school or in other schools. While some school principals and administrators require teachers to stick closely to the syllabus, others, particularly those who believe strongly in project-based learning, allow instructors more freedom in the way they teach. Following are five project-based learning examples that have been very successful.
1. Down the Drain – How much Water do you Use?
Learning about the importance of water in the United States and around the world is the goal of this project aimed at students in grades four through eight. Participants will need to measure, calculate and compare water levels, usage and availability of this most precious of all natural resources. They will take water samples and analyze them to determine if the water is safe for drinking. As the students gather and interpret data, they will draw certain conclusions and make predictions on how water usage will affect the world’s population.
2. Kids “Tune In:” to Weather Curriculum
Linda Tripp’s second and third grade students at Ute Pass Elementary School in Chipita Park, Colorado have become weather experts thanks to a program made possible, in part, with the cooperation of the local TV station and local weather caster, Mike Madson. Deputized as weather watchers for their school and community, the children record the temperature, barometer, wind speed and other weather statistics and then report their findings to the the TV station weather caster. Madson then uses the children’s report to inform his TV audience of the local weather conditions. At the end of the exercise, students get to play the role of a meteorologist and also write a book explaining weather terminology in their own words.
3. Designing the Ideal Middle School Classrooms
Third and fourth graders were put in charge of designing a better middle school classroom. Their project required creative thinking and learning how to make a strong argument for their cause. Students learned how to give speeches and write letters to get politicians and school officials to approve their plan. The project required students to understand how the classroom should be wired and lit and they built scale models of the classroom. Through this project, the students developed different skills for developing plans, backing their plans with research and facts and getting their plans accepted.
4. Mission to Mars
How do you overcome all of the obstacles and challenges that stand in the way of man walking on Mars? The most brilliant astronomers, scientists and engineers have not been able to solve that problem. Students are asked to define the problems of such a mission and then offer solutions. Should the mission be a priority of the cash-strapped government? Should private companies get involved? Many political and financial issues make such a mission far from certain. Students must present a feasibility study that examines all of the issues involved in a mission to Mars and then draw a conclusion, either in favor or against pursuing such a mission.
5. Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Before a group of recent college graduates settles down and begins their “real” lives, they want to take one last great adventure. They want to hike the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail, an undertaking that only 200 people manage to complete each year. The project requires students to come up with a detailed plan to track the hiker’s weekly progress and deal with possible problems along the way. Research, creative thinking, organization, budgeting and interpersonal relationships are all necessary components for a successful journey.