Today’s students need groovy new ways to learn. Many students are disengaged, bored, uninterested and unchallenged.
In fact, research places the percentage of disengaged middle and high school students between 25 percent and 66 percent (Taylor, Parsons 2011). That’s where project-based learning comes in.
What is project-based learning?
To increase student engagement and learning, many educators are turning toward project-based learning. According to Buck Institute for Education (BIE), “project-based learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem or challenge.” It engages students in active, not passive learning, through projects that engage their hearts and minds, and provide real-world relevance for learning.
With project-based learning, students remember what they learn and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with project-based learning are better able to apply what they know to new situations. Education standards, such as Common Core, emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, and the development of 21st century competencies: critical thinking, communication in a variety of media and collaboration. Project-based learning provides an effective way to address such standards.
Assigning a project versus project-based learning
What is the difference between project-based learning and the typical assignment of a project in today’s classroom?
In most classrooms, an instructor may assign a project that is designed for students to show what they learned in a particular unit of study. This may include a term paper or book project.
In project-based learning for a science classroom, for example, students learn through the project. It engages students through lab-based experiments, hands-on participation, and student and/or team-led inquiry.
Project-based learning and Groovy Lab in a Box
Project-based learning is at the heart of Groovy Lab in a Box because our investigations and engineering design challenge drive students to learn through inquiry, and work collaboratively to research and create projects that reflect their knowledge. Each Groovy Lab in a Box includes the written materials and supplies necessary to complete the investigations and engineering design challenge outlined in a retro-style custom, subject-specific lab notebook.
The monthly-themed engineering design challenge is the culmination of what the STEMists have learned from their investigations. It helps STEMists engage their imaginations and apply critical thinking to supply their desired outcomes through the six steps of the Engineering Design Process:
- Ask a question or fix a problem
- Investigate to solve the problem
- Brainstorm a possible solution
- Plan and then build their solution
- Experiment and run tests to see if the solution works
- Redesign to improve the original solution
“Our Engineering Design Challenges harness the natural inquisitive nature and learning ability in children, which is generally lost in typical lecture-style classroom set up, and it’s the perfect example of project-based learning,” says Elaine Hansen, President of Groovy Lab in a Box.
“STEMists who use Groovy Lab in a Box become better problem solvers and more proficient in their communication and technology skills,” added Jennifer Pack, Communications and Art Director of Groovy Lab in a Box. In addition to science, engineering and math, Groovy Lab in a Box incorporates technology, encouraging research and other interactive activities and videos through its Beyond… In A Box online portal exclusive to Groovy Lab in a Box subscribers.
Taking the next (groovy) step
Are you ready to implement project-based learning in your teaching environment to help your STEMists rediscover the excitement of learning? Order a Groovy Lab in a Box today to incorporate project-based learning with your STEMists!