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A Groovy Approach To Project-Based Learning

 

A Groovy Approach To Project-Based LearningToday’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.

Groovy Lab in a Box and Project-Based Learning

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

Engineering Design Process

“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, co-founder 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 Monica Canavan, co-founder 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.

STEMist using technology with Groovy Lab in a Box

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!

Homeschooling is Groovier with Groovy Lab in a Box


Homeschooling has its challenges from developing curriculum to finding educational activities that will keep your students engaged. 
Monthly themed Groovy Lab in a Box is the ideal complement to your curricula, traditional textbooks and supplementary workbooks. Collaboration is key to learning and each groovy box can fit the needs of up to five STEMists – STEM Team titles are outlined in the extended learning portal Beyond…in a Box!

Homeschooling is Groovier with Groovy Lab in a Box

Groovy Lab in a Box will quickly turn your homeschoolers into true STEMists through hands-on experiments that teach science, technology, engineering, and math.

What is a STEMist?

STEM•ist /stĕmʹĭst/ n. Expert in applying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Explorer, creator, inventor…STEMist!

Groovy Lab in a Box lab notebook

Groovy Lab in a Box fosters imaginative innovation and encourages problem solving through project-based learning. Each month’s box has a theme, such as Lunar Launch, Fly with Me, What’s the Matter, and Greenhouses.

Our Groovy Lab Notebook

Your homeschoolers will be delighted when they open their Groovy Lab in a Box to find all the supplies necessary to complete the investigations and engineering design challenge outlined in a retro-style custom, subject-specific lab notebook.  Full Steam Ahead homeschool educator Kristi Smith wrote in her blog titled, What I Learned About my Son,

While he was opening it, my son was beaming, exclaiming, ‘This is better than Christmas!’ (Note to self: Return dirt bike!) He wanted SO badly to just start tinkering, and I wanted SO badly for him to listen as I read through the included Lab Notebook, absorbing all the information on electricity, neutrons, circuits, etc.”

The custom Lab Notebook is where your STEMists will find easy-to-follow directions for each investigation, take notes, draw each project’s design plans and record their findings. “The lab notebook was set up to make it easy to record what we thought would happen, our actual results and what we thought of them.  My oldest loves building and doing experiments, but usually hates the writing/data portion. The question prompts and simple charts to record info made it more fun,” said Cheryl, the creator of Sew Can Do, and a self-taught crafter, designer and homeschooling mom of 3.

Cheryl recently tried our “Here Comes The Sun” solar energy-themed box. “It gave us everything we needed for 4 experiments AND a bonus item (solar paper) to use as we wished. I sometimes found projects like this kind of confusing back when I was a kid, but the lab notebook gave really clear, step-by-step instructions,” says Cheryl. “It was also nice to see the notebook reminding kids that failed results aren’t something negative, but rather an opportunity to learn more and redesign an even better solution.”

The Engineering Design Process for Project-Based Learning

Groovy Lab in a Box presents an engineering design challenge that takes great effort and requires STEMists to first identify the problem through investigative questioning, deduction and reasoning.  Unlike the investigations, the Lab Notebook does not have instructions on how to complete the Engineering Design Challenge, making it the most challenging to perform It’s true project-based learning where your homeschoolers will have to:

Engineering Design Process

  • Ask a question
  • 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 (because almost no one designs it perfectly the first time!)

Even more benefits for homeschoolers

STEMists also have special access to our online learning portal, “Beyond…in a Box”.  Interactive activities, videos and other information are available on the portal to help homeschoolers learn about that month’s topic in addition to providing help to complete the engineering design challenge.

Cheryl says, “What I thought was most fantastic was that one box could be used just as easily with a single child or as a team – we tried it both ways.  Having several kids, at different levels, is sometimes a challenge for us in homeschooling, but Groovy Lab in a Box made it a lot easier.”

So, whether you are homeschooling one child or ten, Groovy Lab in a Box has you covered with our monthly subscription or our single box orders.  Visit Groovy Lab in a Box today to bring unique STEM-related, project-based learning to your homeschoolers.

Our Boxes Are Much More Than Science Supplies

What problems have you solved today?  Every day we are challenged with solving problems, and as adults, we don’t think about the process that goes into finding a solution because we have years of practice. We learned at an early age to be problem solvers.

Groovy Lab in a Box wants to help children be problem solvers too. We foster creative innovation of children, beginning in their early informative years, by enticing their innate curiosity and determination through the engineering design process.

What is the Engineering Design Process?

Engineering Design Process

NASA’s example of the Engineering Design Process “involves a series of steps that lead to the development of a new product or system.” In fact, all engineering design processes start with the identification of a problem, or asking of a question to a solution or conclusion.  Educators around the world use varying steps in a design process.

Here’s How We Do It

Each month STEMists receive a subscription box that focuses on a certain theme. The box provides all the supplies necessary to complete the investigations, experiments and design challenge outlined in a retro-style custom, subject-specific lab notebook.  However, our boxes don’t stop there. Through the contents of our boxes, we encourage children to channel their inner STEMists, guiding them through the steps of the engineering design process.

What is a STEMist?

STEM•ist /stĕmʹĭst/ n. Expert in applying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Explorer, creator, inventor… STEMist!

In fact, the engineering design process is central for completing the activities in the box.  For example, in the Lunar Launch groovy box, STEMists investigate by researching what others have done and inspecting the materials supplied to design the three types of rockets they will build in their challenge—a balloon rocket, paper rocket and foam rocket.  Also included in the Lunar Launch box are balloons, paperclips, tape measure, pencils, the lab notebook, a clothes pin, scissors, and other necessary items needed to do all the investigations and engineering design challenge.

Next, children brainstorm on how they should complete each task based on the information they learned and discuss creative ways to design their project.  Then, they will plan how to build the design.  Once the STEMists build the design, they test their design, and observe and record the results.  The last step is to redesign it to fix any problems that may have occurred in their first design.  Our STEMists go through this process with each of the activities, putting to good use the groovy lab notebook that guides them through the engineering design process. 

Lunar Launch Groovy Lab in a Box

Groovy Lab in a Box has closely aligned its mission with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in teaching STEM to students.  STEM education and learning through the engineering design process is imperative to our future.  Groovy Lab in a Box, like many educational organizations and STEM-driven companies, agree that America is behind other major-playing countries in teaching and learning STEM.

Thinking Outside of the Box

Our lessons don’t stop with the box delivered to our STEMist’s doors.  All STEMists continue learning through access to “Beyond…in a Box,” a unique web portal containing videos and interactive activities to supplement what they are learning through the box projects.

Groovy Lab in a Box challenges children to create their own designs by using the engineering design process and to think outside the box.  This is how we learn to be successful creative problem solvers, and we are excited to play a part in STEMists’ creativity and learning.

Start your subscription today, or check out our Single Box Order options, to get Groovy Lab in a Box for your STEMists!

Our Lab Notebooks Are Groovy!

Groovy Lab in a Box lab notebook

Every month, STEMists receive a Lab Notebook in their subscription box. Many lab notebooks are just a set of directions, but not ours.

Our Lab Notebooks are truly groovy!

Sure, our Lab Notebook has directions. STEMists will follow the Lab Notebook’s step-by-step directions for the investigations. However, for that month’s Engineering Design Challenge, the Lab Notebook does not have any directions. Not a one! Instead, children have to apply what they learned from that month’s investigations and use this knowledge to create their engineering design challenge project.

What’s in our Lab Notebook?

Groovy Lab in a Box Lab Notebook

That’s the groovy part of our Lab Notebooks. Just like an artist pours everything in her sketchbook, the Lab Notebook is where children will pour everything they are learning from that month’s STEM-related activities and engineering design challenge. The Lab Notebook is the place where STEMists will take notes, draw pictures, redesign their engineering projects and apply their critical thinking skills. It contains every aspect of their learning experience – something they can refer to again and again for enrichment and fun.

Lab notebooks are meant to be groovy, and we wouldn’t have ours be any other way!

Ready to check out our Lab Notebook? Start your subscription today, or check out our Single Box Order options.

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