STEM…PBL… Next Gen Science … A Natural, Essentional and Practical Connection


pbl_STEM

Welcome to another post that I know you will want to share and bookmark. The more I study PBL, STEM and the Next generation Science Standards… the more connections I see!  Enjoy this reflection and  please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans.  I promise you will find some great information coming your way this school year…so Sign Up Now and please pass this on with a retweet!   – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference?  I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have done 100′s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including December just about filled,  but i am  taking 2014 dates.

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” – John Dewey

As a long-time advocate of STEM education and more recently Project Based Learning (PBL), I can’t help but see how these two concepts really do complement one another.  Both STEM and PBL depend on a student need to know and inquiry which allows for higher level learning. Additionally, they both facilitate and promote important 21st century competencies.  Since STEM includes the integration of the curricular areas of Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering, this intertwining allows for connections and an authenticity that is essential to both PBL and STEM.

Best practices behind the disciplines of STEM are changing. The Common Core State Standards places a strong emphasis on scientific literacy involving student writing about process. It is no longer acceptable to just find the answer to a math equation. Students must be able to apply their math skills to the real world.  The Next Generation Science Standards promote the kind of application found in engineering and technology,demanding formulation of a problem that is solved by design thinking. These standards state, “Strengthening the engineering aspects of the Next Generation Science Standards will clarify for students the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the four STEM fields) to everyday life.”

 PBL, with its emphasis on authenticity, connections, inquiry, and process, is able to provide these disciplines a necessary pedagogy.  It allows students to own their learning while promoting the inquiry of science, resourcefulness of technology, design principles found in engineering, and application of math. Integrating the subjects encourages student innovation, promotes authentic learning, and allows students to see connections with their community and between content areas. It’s true; PBL can be the delivery method as well as the connector of separate content areas.
 As I reflect on my STEM practice, I am aware of the integral way PBL facilitates student learning. One of my favorite STEM projects involves a spin-off of a Rube Goldberg study. Sixth graders work in collaborative teams to design a system utilizing necessary scientific elements, while incorporating detailed constraints. They learn significant science content relating to systems and simple machines and math content involving measurement and scale. Student teams communicate, debate, and tinker using the process of revision and reflection. Design thinking is evident as students carefully plan using programs such as SketchUp to put thoughts on paper, and later transfer their ideas to a real working model. Excitement swells as students prepare to test their contraptions before mentor engineers.
I  have often used the program West Point Bridge Design to promote mathematics and physics skills with seventh grade students. Working in collaborative contractor teams, students uncover the STEM content area in order to design a computer simulated bridge. They answer the Driving Question, “How can we build a bridge at the lowest cost possible?” Through a formative learning process students experience the rigorous math and physics found in engineering while practicing 21st century competencies.
In another STEM project that incorporates a national competition called Future City, eighth grade students use science and math to design a future city using the popular simulation SIM City. They later transform their creation to a design of a model of a city built using mathematical scale. Engineer mentors provide the important guidance and public audience that leads to real world connections. The connection between STEM and PBL can be further seen through an examination of the Eight Essential Elements of PBL .
The famous educator John Dewey said, “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” This practice is at the very center of PBL and STEM. As we look at the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core State Standards for math and literacy, it is clear that PBL is a natural, essential, and practical connection.

Thanks for joining me on this wonderful journey of 21st century PBL resources . Join me in future weeks as together we continue to explore several more posts devoted to the Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also remember to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work,  have a great week, and enjoy the resources! – Mike Gorman

Booking Info – Are you looking for a practical and affordable professional development workshop for your school or conference?  I have traveled the country delivering PD relating to technology integration, PBL, STEM, Digital Literacy, and the 4 C’s. I have done 100′s of workshops and presentations.  Check out my Booking Page… Dates are going fast, with time up to and including December just about filled,  but i am  taking 2014 dates.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “STEM…PBL… Next Gen Science … A Natural, Essentional and Practical Connection

  1. Hi Michael. My name is Dominique Jones. I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed your post. One of our assignments recently was to post a presentation about PBL. We have not discussed STEM yet, but it seems interesting and I would like to look more into it. I also like the idea about students being able to build their own cities. They will be engaged and learning at the same time.

    Here is my blog if you would like to check it out!

    • Dominique… Thanks for the reflection. PBL is a powerful process that puts students at the center of learning. Very important when we want to facilitate authenticity and engagement. Your Alabama DOE is currently doing some wonderful outreach professional development on PBL. Had a chance to work with them… awesome program through a system the call ALEX. http://alex.state.al.us/index.php Again thanks for your thoughts and enjoy your journey at the university! … Mike

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