Published December 21, 2020
Additional project-based learning articles:
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
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.