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Project Based Learning: What You Need to Know

What is project-based learning? Well, it’s a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real world and meaningful projects that really affects them personally. Project-Based learning has components to making it unique and different than a STEM challenge.

What is the difference between project-based learning and stem?

Project-based learning is a way to take STEM concepts and challenges and apply them to real world situations and problems that students face. Students can explore different concepts and ideas and solutions to the challenges that are more long-term than just a 1 to 2 day challenge time. Project-based learning also incorporates standard base content as well as real world challenges so that students can actually learn to investigate concepts deeper and further and create that real world connection.

As they are learning in the classroom STEM concepts fit into this framework as well so if I choose a challenge that captures a students interests they can be independently working on their goals and design. Your first priority in project-based learning is to make sure that students have a variety of solutions that can be found as they work through their challenge the outcome has many different directions and results in project-based learning. Often times in STEM there are outcomes that are different and the challenge remains the same for all students unlike in most PBL projects.

One might ask how do you keep track of students and where they’re at in their process and project-based learning?

This can be difficult to make sure that students are getting the right depth of what they’re trying to investigate. What I like to do is give them a roadmap that helps them outline the steps they are taking. I make sure that they have the criteria that needs to be met as they go through the process. There are some great frameworks from the engineering design process that many educators utilize. Whether you provide your students with a document that helps them with the framework it’s really important to make sure that they capture what they’re thinking and their procedures are along the way this helps them meet a conclusion at the end a solution that they need to come to an a way for them to share out to others.

What skills are utilized when students work on steam and project-based learning activities?Collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, creativity, as well as authentic hands-on experience! PBL allows students to have their own voice and choice in what they are learning about and how they facilitate their outcomes.


Someone told me a few years ago that project-based learning is voice and choice! This is really important components when doing project-based learning. Students shape their learning and often times explore within one question that was posed by the teacher.

Time to try Project Based Learning! Here are some ideas to start you off:

1. School Garden

2. Cardboard Arcade for School Fund Raiser

3. Plan a party using grocery store ads

4. Plan a vacation for your family

5. Plan a class field trip

6. Learn about a community organization such as a Pet Rescue and create one at school

7. Create a school podcast or school newspaper

8. Plan a camping trip or the summer

9. Learn about recycling centers in your area and create products out of recycling

10. Learn about compost and worms and create a compost bin on site

Grab this freebie here to help guide your planning!

Let's make science and STEM child's play!


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