ImagineIT Phase III
The main goal of this project is for students to approach the world with a scientific eye. I want them to not only see science around them but to see how their actions could help change their outlook on their community, so I want them to become more environmentally aware. I want them to address the problems that they are faced with on a daily basis and see how using science and engineering can make a change to finding solutions to address scientific problems. I want them to come to the realization that through using science and engineering they can make a major impact on society and the real world. This year my students will work on a project that will push them to intertwine science and engineering by using problem-based learning to:
- Become engineers who will collaborate to design and create a community peace garden that will not only help with the problem of lack of fresh food resources in the community, but they will also learn lessons on soil, food and carbon, the life cycle of plants, how important plants are to food cycles, how plants can be converted into fibrous products, create a system that will protect the food in the winter time and more importantly how to use their creativity to solve a real world problem ;
- Seeing the world around them through the eyes of scientists to make environmentally wise choices by making wise choices on the use of energy and harvesting some of the sun’s energy to help with the community garden, creating decomposition columns so that the decomposers will help to make compost for the community garden, and using recycled materials or repurpose used materials to create things that will beautify the community garden.
Students should learn the influence of engineering, technology, and science on society and the natural world according to the Next Generation Science Standards and this project breathes STEM and help students become more aware of their actions and the consequences of their actions on society and the natural world . Students will not only learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, but they will also bring in the arts with their structures that they will design and build to plant and harvest food. Students will learn social activist skills by becoming a change in their community. They will have to work actively with one other, community members, and political members of the community and city. They will learn to do research to help with the process of starting a community garden and learn to write grants and proposals to get funding to start the garden.
My students are faced with so many problems in their community and creating a community peace garden will not only help with the numerous amounts of vacant lots surrounding the area of the school but will also help to bring in fresh food options as opposed to the corner stores around the school that sell food items that are not fresh or healthy. I feel this garden will also help members of the community who are homeless by giving them food to eat, and also bringing the members of the community together in a peaceful way instead of the violence my students are faced with on a daily basis that shows they are a community helping instead of harming one another.
Performance of Understanding
Although this overall project results in a community garden, my students will learn lessons along the way that pertains to the garden so they will be assessed along the way. Students will take a pre and post assessment on the anatomy and life cycle of a plant and plant cell. They will be assessed on photosynthesis and the carbon cycle. They will also be assessed on food chains and soil. As students are learning about each of these topics, they will create visuals of the different cycles and I will use this as a form of assessment. They will have daily exit slips,and journal entries that will be used to assess their content knowledge. Finally students will journal their experience as a scientist via video and/or photos by looking for things that they see as a problem in the community and bring these ideas back to their classmates to compare, discuss, and start to address. They will be challenged to bring in content that we are learning in science and applying this knowledge to address things that they see as problems in the community, so outside of this project, students will tackle their own problem as small groups to show that they are able to use the engineering design cycle.
Learning Experience and Instruction
- Context: I am a five year middle school teacher and I will implement this project with 7th grade (life science) and 8th grade (physical science) students. My students live in the heart of the Englewood community where 97% of the school’s population are African American students. This is a Title I school where over 95% of the students receive either free or reduced lunch. This will be a year long project that I will implement where my students will work on this every quarter for 5 weeks at the end of each quarter. I meet with my students for one and a half hours per school day, during this time students will have time to plan, create, and implement this project. This year, our school will partner with the Museum of Science and Industry to coordinate STEM across grade levels. I will lead the efforts to establish science across grade levels and throughout all subject areas to improve STEM education, which my ImagineIT project directly relates to this initiative.
Content: I want my students to become engineers who will collaborate to design and create a community peace garden that will not only help with the problem of lack of fresh food resources in the community, but they will also learn lessons on soil, food and carbon, the life cycle of plants, how important plants are to food cycles, how plants can be converted into fibrous products, create a system that will protect the food in the winter time and more importantly how to use their creativity to solve a real world problem.
I also want them to start seeing the world around them through the eyes of scientists to make environmentally wise choices by making wise choices on the use of energy and harvesting some of the sun’s energy to help with the community garden, creating decomposition columns so that the decomposers will help to make compost for the community garden, and using recycled materials or repurpose used materials to create things that will beautify the community garden. I forsee my students thinking that this process of designing the community garden will have nothing to do with science. I envision them being excited about the process of designing the garden but I feel they will become overwhelmed along the way with the amount of planning it will take to make this project a success.
Pedagogy: This project will use numerous instructional strategies which include:
- Cooperative learning-students will work in small groups to collaborate and create small parts of the community garden that will then turn into a whole community garden.
- Hands-on active participation-this entire project will be hands on. Students will learn by doing, no textbooks will be used. They will take a hands on approach because they will get involved in the community by talking to political officials, their parents, and experts in the field. They will do research and become activists.
- Student-centered approach- I will help to facilitate my students learning by working alongside them to guide them in the beginning and then scaffolding them and stepping in if needed.
Technology: Students will create posters using google docs to show how individual actions can either help or harm our planet. They will create short films using movie software like iMovie and Windows movie maker to document their progress on a daily basis of how they are approaching and solving scientific problems. Since this project will encompass lots of engineering techniques, students will use tools like hammers, nails, and two by fours. They will also you SketchUp designing software to design the community garden.
This project will be hard work, but it is my hope that my students will make small changes in their community that will make an impact on the world!