General Science and Teaching

Project or Problem based learning in Middle School Science

Hello...My district is moving towards PBL in all core classes and some electives. I currently teach 6th grade Middle School Science using NGSS. I have been experimenting with Phenomena based inquiry which is similar to PBL but I haven't quite mastered that yet so I'm nervous about transitioning towards PBL. 

The main issue I have with phenomena based inquiry is my own adherence to the phenomenon. I find that I get lost as I move through the unit or that I have a difficult time tying my students' inquiry into the over-arching phenomenon they are researching. Short inquiries that help them discover an important piece of the investigation I have no problem with...just the large over-arching phenomenon/inquiry.

Does anyone have recommendation as to how to tie the whole unit together? I believe figuring this out will help me transition to PBL.

 

Thank you for sharing your understanding and expertise!

 

Lisa 

Lisa Mitchell
Lisa Mitchell
955 Activity Points

Hi, Lisa.  Have you looked at the Gizmos & Gadgets books from NSTA Press?   Besides the PBL activities, the books have a nice introduction that provides good information on how to use the activities and connect them to the phenomena.  All the editions (elementary, middle, high) can be seen here, and you can go right to the middle-school edition here:

http://www.nsta.org/store/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781936959372

For example, there are four different activities related to the phenomenon of air pressure.  After exploring these activities, students will have approached the phenomenon from four different angles and have a much deeper understanding of air pressure.  

James

James Dotson
James Dotson
110 Activity Points

Hello James...I have heard of Gizmos and Gadgets but I thought that referred to small, programmable robots or something...not a book! Your description of the air pressure activities and approaching the phenomenon from different angles does sound interesting though. I will have to check it out! Thank you for sharing the information and the link!

Lisa

Lisa Mitchell
Lisa Mitchell
955 Activity Points

Hello Lisa!

I know how easy it is to get side-tracked or lose sight of the phenomenon/problem that you orginally started with.  I think you've picked up that going in different directions is not really a bad thing at all. I think that seeing the different angles also connects their learning to more than just the problem at hand or the phenomenon under investigation.  In fact, I would say that this is an excellent benefit and that the whole idea of scientific investigation is to apply knowledge to other situations. Simply asking the students, "So, how does this apply to our original problem?" should lead to great discussions, bring in argumentation, allow students to explore the topic beyond the confines of one problem AND tie everything together!  It is also useful, powerful and realistic that they conclude that something does not apply (with good argument).  I would have the students journal this culminating "bring it together" task and share with each other.  

Hope this helps,

Gabe Kraljevic

Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
4174 Activity Points

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