“It’s construction day!” buzzed the students to each other as they came into my classroom. This day had been eagerly anticipated as the pile of construction materials in our classroom had grown.
- Investigate observable characteristics and uses of natural and constructed objects and materials and
- Examine methods of altering and combining materials to create objects
Because Christmas was approaching and I wanted to be sure to finish whatever I started before then, I decided to tackle just those two outcomes in a PBL way.
To start the unit, I showed my students three videos that showed people using things in surprising ways to create something different. I showed them a video of sheep being used to make pictures on a hillside, an artist creating Darth Vader with salt and dominos used to create the Mona Lisa. They “oo”-ed and “ah”-ed and were intrigued by the idea of making unexpected things. They all wondered aloud about creating something and wrote it on a card which was placed on our wonder wall.
The next day, I told them it was their turn to try it. They could use anything they found in our classroom to create something. It was interesting to watch some of the students dive in and begin creating, while others struggled to find an idea. Several tried to make a Mona Lisa. One child used the snap cubes in our classroom to make a transformer that actually transformed from a robot into a flying airbus.
As a class, we made some picture frames out of tongue depressors and puzzle pieces.
And then we began collecting stuff. As the pile grew, so did the anticipation. Finally the day arrived. We talked briefly about the rubric I would be using to evaluate and then they madly dove into constructing.
The pile of materials dwindled as the students explored their own ideas. It was passion-based learning as I always wanted it to be in my classroom. The students were all engaged. They were all creating something that interested them.
And I had the evidence that two science outcomes were clearly understood by all of the students.