PBL - Project and Problem Based Learning

PBL ( project or problem based learning ) from PEF STEM Innovation Hub on Vimeo.

 

The curriculum at the STEM school is rooted in a project/problem based learning philosophy (referred to as PBL). PBL is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills while working in small collaborative groups. Because PBL is filled with active and engaged learning, it inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they are studying. Strong related arts programs and advanced technological resources will foster creativity and innovative critical thinking skills as they address the project challenges presented in school curriculum.


PBL stands for two types of learning that are used at the STEM school:
1. Project Based Learning - Create a product that meaningful addresses an essential question.
2. Problem Based Learning - Apply knowledge and skills to develop a viable solution to a defined problem.

PBL units take place throughout the year at STEM School Chattanooga.  The PBL units and the purpose of the units are distinguishable by grade level.

9th Grade

In 9th grade the PBL units are designed and created completely at the school.  Teachers implement PBL units using STEM strands (topics), STEM projects or STEM problems.  All PBL units consist of content specific components for math, science, language arts, social studies, and art.  The 9th grade PBL units are:

  • Unit 1: Strand - Leadership and Collaboration
  • Unit 2: Strand - Energy
  • Unit 3: Strand - Technology and Marketing
  • Unit 4: Problem - Develop an original and practical video game for the future.
  • Unit 5: Problem - Build a robot to navigate an unknown maze.
  • Unit 6: Project - How can we diagnose an illness and design an effective treatment plan for a critically ill patient?


10th Grade

In 10th grade the PBL units are built with the assistance of a business partner.  Teachers implement PBL units using STEM projects or STEM problems.  All PBL units consist of content specific components for math, science, language arts, and social studies.  The 10th grade PBL units are:

  • Unit 1: Problem (Partner: Hunter Museum of Art) - Redesign a current work of art into a digitally or 3-D printed innovative piece.
  • Unit 2: Project (Partner: Creative Discovery Museum) - Create a K-5 STEM lesson for implementation.
  • Unit 3: Problem (Partner: Unum) - Code a text based game in Python.
  • Unit 4: Project (Partner: Volkswagen) - How does a school Think Blue?


11th Grade

In 11th grade the PBL units are created by a business partner.  11th grade students are no longer provided with specific content pieces they must use from each 11th grade course, but instead are expected to find, choose and use the relevant content needed for the unit.  The teachers focus the evaluation of the PBL work on process skills.  In particular, students are assessed on their innovation, critical thinking, and collaboration. 11th grade teams select one PBL project in each quarter, so they work on four PBLs across the year.  The 11th grade PBL units are:
1st Quarter

  • Chattanooga State - Create a viable proposal to deal with the foreign invasive kudzu plant problem in Chattanooga.
  • Engel Foundation - Using fun theory, how do we make Engel sustainable?
  • EPB - Build a working and moving doll or display item for the EPB Christmas windows.
  • Open Spaces - Design, build, and implement a storefront space in downtown Chattanooga.

2nd Quarter

  • Accelent - Design and 3D print a catheter for a specific medical application.
  • Chattanooga Public Library - Design a self-guided exhibit for library visitors to get started and learn to use a 3D printer.
  • Signal Power - Create proposal for innovative improvements of Hybrid Tower LED 444.
  • Lamp Post - Create a sustainable business plan for a STEM startup.

3rd Quarter

  • Chattanooga Public Library - Design a self-guided exhibit for library visitors to get started and learn to use a Maker Space equipment item.
  • Chattanooga State - Create a viable proposal to deal with the foreign invasive kudzu plant problem in Chattanooga.
  • EPB - Design a power micro-grid for a Chattanooga location.
  • Open Spaces - Design, build, and implement a storefront space in downtown Chattanooga.
  • Raccoon Mountain - Create a proposal to help mitigate the impact of white nose syndrome.
  • TN Aquarium - Enhance the Delta Country exhibit to improve its edutainment effectiveness.

4th Quarter

  • Architect Group - Design and build an architecturally sound birdhouse for a specific bird species.
  • Chattanooga Public Library - Design a self-guided STEM exhibit for children on the 2nd floor.
  • Chattanooga Waste Resources - Design and build a working wastewater treatment mechanism.
  • TN American Water - Develop a water flow system.
  • UTC SimCenter - Optimize a wind farm layout for efficiency using Python coding.


12th Grade

In 12th grade PBLs are taken to the final stage.  Student teams are expected to define a STEM issue or problem for their 12th grade year.  Student teams are expected to find resources, connect with local business, and create prototype solutions for their project.  PBL units in 12th grade are designed and created by students.