Does project-based learning make children more autonomous? Take the first phase of energy conservation and environmental protection education as an example

Last year, how to distinguish between wet and dry garbage became a hot topic in Shanghai and even the whole country. Pioneering educational institutions try to let children explore energy-saving and emission reduction solutions through project-based learning.

Toasting marshmallows with the sun is indeed an interesting experiment. But does the project inspire students to continue thinking about energy use? Or is it just a fun, hands-on production? With this question, the author interviewed campers randomly: “After completing this project, what connection do you think solar energy has with our actual life?” A 11-year-old girl answered: “I thought solar energy was a water heater before .Now I will think that neither wind energy nor solar energy need extra combustion energy and do not pollute the environment. We can use the energy it produces to do a lot of things. “A little older partner beside her added:” The design of solar roasted cotton candy Extending to life, reminds me of the negative teaching materials that do not use solar energy well. The glass walls in cities reflect sunlight and increase the temperature. Especially in summer, we feel uncomfortable, like roasted marshmallow … With that said, we smiled, and the author’s question was answered.

Wind Mill

The purpose of the project is to design and build the lowest cost and most energy efficient windmill. Each team first did research online, collected data on different types of windmills, made a preliminary understanding of the subject, and then explored how to design windmills that are both energy-saving and cost-saving. The 14-year-old mentor assistant Kerry applied the newly learned physics knowledge to answer: “On the one hand, it is necessary to use light materials to reduce the resistance of the wind to push the blade; on the other hand, the shape of the blade is designed to adjust the wind distance to make the wind energy that drives it rotate The biggest. “This allows us to see the complementarity of the two types of education-children need knowledge learned in school as the basis of analytical reasoning, and textbook knowledge requires the application of real scenes and active thinking to” live “. Make students have an ownership of knowledge.

Sustainable home

“What is the purpose of building a sustainable house?” At the lunch table, the children rushed to answer: “The core of an energy-efficient house is heat insulation. The design and materials of the house need to minimize the impact of outside temperature on the interior. In the morning, less air conditioning in summer and less heating in winter will reduce the energy consumption of the house. “In the morning, the children devoted themselves to searching, researching, and designing, trying to find the best solution within their abilities. In the afternoon, after a preliminary design draft, they used hot glue guns to make a model of the environmentally friendly house. The children were so devoted that they turned the design drawings into models so that they would not leave after dinner time. The camp leader was afraid they would be hungry and had to catch them one by one.

Culminating project

The Peak project continues the PBL methods and steps, and applies the knowledge, skills, and project methods learned: First, children need to use the relevant energy knowledge harvested in the PBL, such as where solar energy comes from, and how to build sustainable development Houses, etc .; skills that have been previously learned by “scaffold”-cost modeling, energy consumption excel analysis, etc. will also be used. In terms of working methods, children will also use the project process in PBL: search information, data analysis, cost analysis, proposal, speech presentation. We will see later in the final project, the children learn and apply, apply these knowledge, skills, steps, check the data of previous years, interview with the staff, make bold assumptions, build models, and draw renderings.

Unlike PBL, the peak project theme is selected by the group members based on their interests. The final project especially emphasizes creativity and interest-driven. It requires the team members to have a full sense of ownership. In the face of the first contact questions and unknown answers, the children are encouraged to try: “You may not know, but you must not try . (It’s okay to not know. But it’s not okay to not try). ” It turns out that searching for the answer to a question of their own choosing has inspired children’s interest. The camp chief said that what he had to do was not to urge the children to complete the project, but to ensure that they did not overwork. Some children continue to make projects even for meals and free time, because they are completely head in and are led by interest, wanting to make their projects to the highest quality.

Each group of projects has a motivating question. The purpose of the project, research, etc. are all around it; it is the driving force that drives the project forward. Course designer John places particular emphasis on the quality of the problem, emphasizing that it needs to be an authentic question, not a fiction, to ensure that children are providing solutions to real problems. The problem also needs to be clear who is the client of the project, in order to specify the problem to be solved. For example, if the driving question is “How to reduce the cost of waste sorting?” Then it needs to be clear whether the service target is Shanghai office workers, Japanese restaurants, or German schools? The social role and environment of different objects will affect the solution and even produce completely different designs.

The final project is like providing solutions and designing products for customers. The five-person team has a clear division of labor, including discussion organizers, interviewers, data analysts, PPT designers, and progress promoters. Sometimes one person can have multiple roles. The group cooperation mode is also like in the work scene, with schedules, meetings, inspections, and independent assignments … This group of children who are still junior high school students are like working teenagers. The project content is also varied: let the sports field automatically generate electricity, plan new energy for Chengdu, use Roblox game design to simulate fish and vegetable symbiosis, provide ideas for the Sudan ’s Belt and Road project, and provide solutions to China ’s desertification …

In this article, we learned that “International Youth Environmental Action” introduced children into the world of environmental protection through project-based learning such as solar panels, windmills, and sustainable housing. After initial building skills, children select topics of interest in the Peak project to provide environmentally-friendly solutions for real-life scenarios. In the next part, we will introduce the specific case of the Peak project, and share the multi-perspective perspectives of parents, children, mentors and other project participants in evaluating the International Youth Action Environmental Protection Project. We will see the hope and problems faced by the landing of this pioneering form of education in China.

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