14 Project-Based Learning Activities for the Science Classroom
One of the most popular methods of facilitating deep learning in K-12 schools in problem-based learning. It starts, as the name suggests, with a problem. In this model, students are presented with an open-ended problem. Students must search through a variety of resources, called trigger material, to help them understand the problem from all angles. What would project-based learning look like in a subject like science? That’s what I plan to explore in this piece. Below you will find a list of 14 project-based learning activities for the K-12 science classroom.
- Student Farm. Students will learn lessons about science, social studies, math, and economics through planting their organic farm. They can begin by researching the crops they want, figure out what kind of care is needed, and then use a budget to determine what materials they must purchase. They can even sell food from their farm to contribute to a cause or fundraiser.
- Bridge Building. Students begin by studying the engineering of bridge building, comparing the construction of famous bridges such as the Golden Gate Bridge or Tower Bridge in London. Then they work in teams to construct bridges out of Popsicle sticks. The challenge is to get their bridge to hold five pounds (for younger students) or twenty pounds (for more advanced students).
- Shrinking Potato Chip Bags in the Microwave. Students can learn about polymers through hands-on activities using some of their favorite products, like shoes and sporting equipment. As a culminating activity, they can put a wrapper from their favorite chips or candy bar into the microwave for five seconds to learn about how polymers return to their natural state when exposed to the heat.
- Design an App. Students love using the newest apps and games, so take it to the next level by having them design their own! With Apple developer tools, kids can learn how to create an app or online game. They can learn about technology and problem-solving skills while engaged in what they love.
- Gummy Bear: Shrink or Grow? For a project-based lesson on osmosis and solubility, you will just need gummi bears and different liquids and solutions (water, salt water, vinegar, etc.). Children will place a gummi bear in each solution overnight and then measure the results.
- The Old Egg in a Bottle Trick. This old trick is an impressive PBL activity for kids to learn about the correlation between temperature and pressure,. Using just eggs, a wide mouth glass bottle, matches, and strips of paper, children will be able to make an egg “magically” fit through the bottle’s opening.
- Cabbage Acid-Base Indicator. Children will love this hands-on approach to learning how to identify an acid or a base just using purple cabbage and seeing colors change.
- Carnation Color Wonders. An uncomplicated way to teach the importance of the various parts of the flower, the carnation color experiment shows kids how stems provide nourishment to the whole plant.
- Polymers & Pampers. If your middle school scientist has a younger sibling at home in diapers, this is a great PBL activity to teach how polymers are essential for products like diapers.
- Make a Battery Using… Anytime a kid can turn produce into a battery, it is fun! So, why not compare a lemon battery to a potato battery to see which one works better?
- Helmet Drop Test. The helmet drop test is a practical PBL project to teach kids the importance of safety helmets. Simply gather different types of helmets and a several melons. Strap the helmets to the melons and drop each from the same height and measure the results.
- How Much Sugar is in that Soda?. Health-conscious parents will love this PBL activity because it teaches kids how much sugar is in their soft drinks. If you have soft drinks, sugar, and measuring cups, you can do this experiment in your kitchen.
- Ways to Clean a Penny. To teach children how acid reacts with salt works to remove the dullness of pennies, kids can do a simple PBL activity using salt and vinegar. They can also test other acids to compare results.
- Oranges: Float or Sink?. To teach kids about density, all you need are oranges and a bowl of water. You can add to this experiment by testing other fruits with peels.
Did we miss any. Please share your favorite project-based learning activities in the comments below.