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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Project-Based Learning and the Gulf Oil Spill

Eric Brunsell

Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

Edutopia's PBL Boot Camp started today, and I thought that I would provide some resources to get you thinking...

Messing About

Good projects revolve around important questions. However, good questions are not always easy to generate...especially in a vacuum. How many times have students drawn a blank when confronted with the "freedom" to study anything they want for a school project? Often, it is helpful to have students "mess about" with information before you ask them to brainstorm questions.

(Yes, I know that middle school students have their own definition for messing about.)

Many of the resources below can provide a great starting point for short and long term projects.


The old saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words," has a lot of merit. A good picture can often tell a story, provoke emotions, or generate questions. The use of images and visual representations is critically important in science. Visual representations can also quickly convey very complicated information. We are constantly bombarded by infographics that describe scientific information. How often do we ask our students to analyze or create an infographic?

What could our students do with these complicated infographics?

Other Oil Spill Resources

How Big is the Oil Spill? The current estimate is 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day (1 barrel = 42 gallons).

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