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Friday, October 25, 2013

 
 
 

The Blooming of Project-Based Science

 

Green Peppers Grown Hydroponically

in the Classroom.

 
Concepts in Chemistry are learned and reinforced through projects, such as the Earth Stewardship Project. Project like these help provide both relevance and rigor to the learning environment. The project goals help to drive the learning as students become problem-solving experts in their pursuit of knowledge and understanding. The intrinsic motivation to learn is reinforced through hands-on and inquiry-based scientific research.
 
 
 


 Aquaponics experimentation is ground-breaking new research that is being conducted in the classroom.  It could result in new solutions to achieve the goals of the Earth Stewardship Project.

 
 
 

 A Classroom Greenhouse provide the means for students to do research on different soil mediums, while looking for a mixture of potting soil, vermicompost and organic fertilizer that will maximize crop production.

 
 
 
 
Classroom Worm Farms are at the center of
the research conducted during the Earth Stewardship Project.  Students investigate the means to increase production of vermicompost from each farm. These farms provide the necessary organic material that is harvested and processed into nutrient-rich worm tea.  The liquid organic fertilizer that is produced is one of the essential ingredients needed to insure a successful crop production.



Friday, October 18, 2013

Did we really go to the moon?



Did We Really Go to the Moon?

 

It starts out as one of those good ideas.  It is the last day of Homecoming Week at school and I decide to show a movie about Apollo Missions to the Moon.  The movie documents the heroic effort by men and women of our country working on the spacefligh project, destined to have man walk on the Moon.

From the back of the classroom yells a student, “That is all fake.  That never really happen.  It was all just made up.”  I then snap back, “I believe in the science and it did happen.  I lived it.”  The argument persists and I add that it is belief in pseudoscience that you are talking about if you do not believe that historically America once put men on the Moon and brought them back alive.

The furor in class dies down and the movie continues, but a girl in my class whispers a question to me.  “Did we really go to the Moon?  Did we really do that?” And I gleefully and quietly comment back “Yes we did, It really happen.”

With computer technology no more sophisticated than that of a high school calculator, we conquered the challenge of going to another planet and we looked back upon ourselves with amazement and humility.  Stunned by the history and ideas presented in the movie and championed by her science teacher, the young lady might realize things differently with eyes now full of wonderment and glee too!

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.