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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Can Science Fair Projects Be Project Based Learning?

Can Science Fair Projects Be Project Based Learning?

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How do I take Science Fair Projects that students are required to do and make it PBL?

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Theresa's picture
Language Arts, Grades 6,7,8. Catholic Cathechist Grade 6

Students form their own hypothesis and design an experiment to test the hypothesis. The science teacher uses this to teach standards involving scientific method. Later the students must write a background research report, abstract, etc.. As students do this I would like to teach research and expository writing. The students choose the driving question, how can I make this PBL?

Marie D. McCohnell's picture
Marie D. McCohnell
B.A. degree in

Yes Theresa, science fair projects are a natural beginning or by-product of project based or service learning modules. Keep in mind that true project based learning is "student interest lead"...with gentle guidance from the teacher. The project learning part of a science project should be exemplified when your students become totally interested in the subject/experiment that they have chosen; then they proceed to brainstorm with your assistance ways to investigate their chosen subject and hypotenuse. Project learning can grow and take on a life of its own. Ideally it should become a supportive field trip for a hands-on experience, as well as, follow-up experiences to reinforce the learning process such as expert mentors. The most important aspect of project learning is that the students get personally involved in the design and ensuing learning that takes place. Too much teacher lead involvement/instruction dampens the whole spirit of project learning: this is not theme learning. There are wonderful classes, websites and YouTube Videos for understanding project learning, I recently put together this animation about science and service learning; the same can be applied to project learning. Here is the link to my little YouTube video...please be kind...this is only the second animation I have made...I am still learning the tech. Smile!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnkvhNyEiW8

Theresa's picture
Language Arts, Grades 6,7,8. Catholic Cathechist Grade 6

I watched your animation. Students typically appear to be interested in the topic and driving question or hypotenuse they choose at the beginning of the process. Its the step-by-step follow through that they seem to loose interest during.

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