. . . these features are driving question, investigations, artifacts, collaboration, and telecommunications.

What is Project-Based Science?

Driving Question: Project-Based Science organizes science class around a driving question. Everything the class does is focused on answering that question: investigations, computer work, library research, class discussions, and student-designed experiments.

"This was a very different style of teaching for me . . . One of the biggest advantages to using a driving question is it gave students a sense of purpose. As we worked together through this first unit, my students began to realize that there was a purpose to everything we did. No more questions like, 'Why do we have to learn this?' No matter how different the activities seemed, the end results were the same: we were trying to find out about our tap water."

Deborah Peek-Brown, Carver Elementary, Detroit:

Some examples of driving questions are: ("What's in Our Water?" is copyrighted curriculum that is published by National Geographic, and supported with software that allows schools to share data across the country)

Investigations: Students pursue solutions to authentic problems by asking and refining questions, debating ideas, making predictions, designing plans and/or experiments, gathering information, collecting and analyzing data, drawing conclusions and communicating their ideas and findings to others.

Artifacts: These are the products of the student which represent their knowledge and understanding of the driving question.

I don't believe anything grabs students' attention, focuses their energy, or utilizes their resourcefulness like an investigation that they design, develop, and implement themselves . . . Artifacts put students on an even playing field—all students are capable of excelling. Artifacts also help them build their portfolios.

Clark Balas, Mattawan High, Mattawan

Collaboration: In a Project-Based Science classroom, students discuss and try out their ideas and challenge the ideas of others. Telecommunications allow students to interact with a wider community of other students, and outside science experts to share information, data, resources, and ideas.

The telecommunications part of the unit consisted of each class being part of a research team with other classes throughout the country, Canada, and other parts of the world. The students sent information about their locality and its drinking water to their teammates via computer modem. Students also sent and received maps, data files, and other letters. Whenever we telecommunicated, the air in the classroom was full of excitement."

Betty Hopkins, Edmonson Middle, Ypsilanti

Technology: Using technology in Project-Based Science makes the environment more authentic to students because the computer provides access to data and information, expands interaction and collaboration with others via networks, promotes laboratory investigation, and emulates tools experts use to produce artifacts.

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