Recently, I was invited to observe a PBL unit in action. Candice Little, third grade teacher at Long, had her students actively engaged in a PBL unit on wind turbines and energy conservation. Here is what Ms. Little had to say about her class project:
Ever wonder what would happen if we ran out of our day to day energy sources? The third grade students came across this question during a social studies lesson on public issues. They found that Michigan uses a lot of energy and needs to find new energy sources. Their task was to find out if there are benefits to putting wind turbines in the Great Lakes. The driving question was: How can we, as engineers, design wind turbines to accommodate the growing need for an alternate source of energy? To kick off the project, we had representatives from DTE come in to talk to us about energy sources. They brought a model of a wind turbine and discussed how it works and gave us a demonstration. For the next few days, the students did some research and I read the book, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind. Together we made a list of materials that they thought would be needed. I gathered materials and then they began sketching their wind turbines. Once everyone was done with their sketches, I assigned groups. They met to share their ideas and sketches. It was awesome to see the similarities and differences and to hear the conversations that arose. It was finally time to build and you could feel the energy in the room. With very little guidance I let them begin. The students got right to it. There were a few bumps and frustrations, but the teamwork really prevailed and they problem solved and made changes. The end result came with functioning wind turbines and a lot of student growth.
Check out the pictures and student testimonial!