Why I Love Project Based Units


The past two weeks my students have finished their research, and now are moving into filming and editing their Mythbusters style video.

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One group, who chose the myth that a bike could set off a light sensor, did most of the filming this morning. They wanted to get as authentic data as possible. So we had to wait until all the cars had left the driveway of our school to test their myth (which wasn’t easy).

The students timed their peer riding a bike over the sensors for several minutes before giving up. We then used my van to drive over the sensors, and we timed to see when the light would change from red to green. It happened at about 50 seconds. Based on the information they gathered today they thought their myth was busted. Then we got a twist.

I posted the above picture on Facebook with a description of what my students were doing. We were amazed that I got a response from a friend of mine. My friend told me that if the senor was readjusted to have increased sensibility then the bike would have set off the senor, and turn the light from red to green. My students went nuts!

After hearing the news, my students went through their research and notes they took to try to come up with a way to understand the sensors a little more. We concluded that with that new piece of information that their myth was plausible.

This is why I love Project Based Learning. You never really know where the project will lead you when you don’t know the absolute answer. My students got some authentic data, and they got an authentic real answer. All of their research was leading them to the fact it was impossible for a bike to set off a street sensor. My students were so excited to see that something they thought they could prove to be false has a slight chance of hope of being true.

Project Based Learning is something that I am planning on continuing, because I feel that it gives my students a real chance of learning something real. It makes them critically think, and research and organize their work.  They have the chance to see learning in action. They gained skills in interviewing, anylzing data, forming a thypothesis, and using critical thinking skills to come up with an answer. I believe these skills will be used by them after they get out of school and into the community.

What are you doing to help give your students a chance at authentic real world learning? Have you tried Project Based Learning? If so what are some of your experiences?

 

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