Monday, October 14, 2013

The 2013-2014 Earth Stewardship Project

at Streamwood High School



With the2013-2014 school year in full throttle I have been successful in getting the “mothership”  of Project-Based Learning (PBL) off the ground in my high school science classroom. 
For weeks, months and years I have been working to establish a project-based format in my physical science classes that effectively contribute to the development of a learning environment producing critical thinkers and problem solvers!
The Earth Stewardship Project presents the driving question to all the  2013-2014 newcomers to the world of physical science.  What is the most effective means to maximize the production of both organic fertilizers and the harvesting of organic plants in the science classroom? The question simultaneously presents itself as both a challenge to produce quantities of substances in the classroom, while at the same time begs for understanding the chemical and physical nature of these substances. 
Students are using what they know, and learn to enhance the quality and quantity of harvested organic plants like basil, lettuce and chives with the aid of homegrown vermicompost organic fertilizers.  Student involvement in the project is a very natural reflection of a stewardship attitude toward our environment.
By utilizing the resources of grants, I have designed a curriculum reflecting a new learning model of a 21st century classroom. The goal is to meet common core standards, while achieving learning outcomes of critical thinking and competent articulated decision-making.
Beginning second quarter students, working in teams, will produce experimental designs that increase understanding of the production of vermicompost and the growth of organic crops.  Becoming experts in the chemistry of these naturally produced substances will help students to link discoveries to real-world understanding and problem-solving.
Some of the outcomes associated with this learning model are increases in student intrinsic motivation to learn science, documentation of scientific results and the articulation of their findings through multiple means of presentation.  Students take ownership of their scientific investigations and defend their conclusions with  evidence derived from their own experimental designs.

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