In Mrs. Tracey’s fourth grade classroom at STEM School Highlands Ranch, it’s lights out, and glow sticks on. The class is working on a project that is part of a PBL (Problem Based Learning). Problem Based Learning is STEM’s instructional model and how teachers implement it is where creativity is applied. How the PBL is implemented can last weeks or months. The glow-in-the-dark PBL in Mrs. Tracey’s class is designed to last just for one day.
With Mrs. Tracey’s PBL, the students had to come up with any invention that came to mind that helps solve a problem facing the world. The students had a quick brainstorming session, and then watched an inspirational video featuring STEM sophomore Gitanjali Rao, who was recently named TIME magazine’s “Kid of the year.” After the video was shown, the students were turned loose to come up with their inventions, and were given glow in the dark materials to use to show how their innovations would work.
Some students decided to tackle the problem of pollution. Others, utilized robots to help the world, and make people’s lives easier.
Gunnar Johnson and his group came up with an idea for a device that alerts you if your vehicle is giving off too much pollution, and even fines you $50 per day until you get it fixed.
Mrs. Tracey says she sees firsthand how PBL’s can help students not only innovate but understand what it takes to be effective in a real-world job.
“They could use teamwork for sure,” Tracey said. “That’s the number one skill I think PBL’s provide because they have to work together in groups and come up with something together. It’s a lot harder to do on your own.”
To see the video feature of the glow-in-the-dark PBL, check out the video below.