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The ripple effects of a PeBbLe

Pitsco STEM PBL paves way for students to leave lasting impact on community, their future

Published December 21, 2020
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The vision of students having meaningful and lasting learning experiences can be analogous to the effects of pebbles dropped into a body of water. Drop a single pebble into water, and you can see ripples that affect many things not easily noticed.

Though not readily apparent, the level of the water is changed. The flow of the water is forever altered by the pebble, but you might not notice the change immediately. The chemistry of the water is altered, again, in a nearly imperceptible way. Many other changes take place, but I think you get the idea: small changes can have lasting cumulative impacts.

Now, imagine continually dropping pebbles into that body of water, and it doesn’t take much imagination to understand the dramatic effect those changes can have.

Similarly, Pitsco’s STEM PBL Units are designed for students to be the pebbles that dramatically affect the flow of society, beginning in their own community, in a positive way while they learn in a meaningful manner. Project-based learning (PBL) in general is designed to provide relevant context for student learning and place value on students and their communities.

Basically, PBL is a perfect avenue for the introduction of STEM and development of student skills related to specific concepts and skills. Pitsco’s STEM PBL Units have a framework with five foundational posts that drive the experience.

  • STEM Challenge – Each project provides a meaningful STEM challenge that requires students to think critically about multiple possible solutions. Students receive ample time and space for completion of the challenge.
  • Authentic Inquiry – Students engage in a rigorous process of creatively solving real-world problems; apply appropriate regulations, techniques, and technologies; and uncover local applications for their projects.
  • Student-Driven Learning – Students decide how they will solve the challenge. This includes managing all aspects of the project through to completion.
  • Applied Development – Students use the engineering design process to test, revise, and reflect on outputs while working collaboratively.
  • Public Engagement – Students communicate their projects to any appropriate community audiences outside the classroom.

Pitsco’s researched framework enables students to learn in meaningful and effective ways and to see how their learning connects to their communities. This connection has the effect of anchoring learning, creating a lifelong ability to recall and apply concepts to new situations. This is the potential ripple effect of STEM PBL.

These small, almost unseen changes can have lasting cumulative effects on students and their communities. We have no way of knowing which pebble will be the one that most dramatically changes the course of a life or a community, so we must allow each student to drop their own personal pebble as part of the Pitsco PBL experience.

“The level of individualized support you offer our teacher is amazing. It’s like having another instructional coach on our staff. Your relationship and ability to coach with empathy is appreciated. You took time to not only see a successful launch, but ongoing implementation; that level of capacity building is needed to sustain a successful program.”

– Sharrah Pharr, PhD, director of federal programs and grants, Hays CISD, Kyle, Texas

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