Dreaming up the new Problems with Oil Project

November 6, 2010 at 3:06 PM Leave a comment

How do you even start?

Post-it notes of course – the major technological advance allowing new operating systems to be invented, Mars exploration and little class projects like the Problems with Oil Project to be born.

Ideas for the big pieces first. Sort and add headings, details. Here’s what I’m thinking:

1. Pick a Problem: How does oil flow through our lives? Products, life cycles, disposal, what are the problems? Research, define, relate to physical science concepts and reliable data.

2. Pick a solution. Survey what’s out there. What’s scientifically based and likely to be effective? What would you LIKE to do? With whom? (about this project, what were you thinking?) Persuade others to join you ANY WAY YOU LIKE aka multimedia, not bribes and threats :-).

3. Decide what to do and plan it. Using project management skills from TAP last year.

4. Do it with your friends at home over about 8 weeks. Regular check ins with science journals and log books. Take pics and movie clips, collect receipts etc. as evidence you did it.

5. Present and persuade others to do it too. Multimedia or poster presentations. Celebrate and reflect.

Then flesh out each section with one tiny, pink post-its for each lesson. Leave a little over-flow time in there – too rushed sucks the fun out of it.

Decide when you want the finale to be – Open House works well for our community.

Leave about 8 weeks between the end of the selection and planning process, and the deadline. Not too long or they don’t sustain enthusiasm. Not too short or families can’t coordinate their schedules. Then stick post-its into the desk calendar. In the spaces in between, squish in the rest of the 8th grade curriculum. 66 days left, 3 units = 22 each, or similar.

But the cool thing is that there is purposely a decent amount of overlap. The problem with plastics can be used as a way in to density. Oil fractionation can be leveraged with physical chemistry standards. I’ll be looking for overlaps as I develop the project and the curriculum.

I have to actually DO a project and multimedia example. I’m thinking of the problem with plastics disposal. But I’m kind of scared to get started. What if I do a crap job? Oh yeah, I’m supposed to model LEARNING, so I guess that will be okay…

And finally, I have to know that there are lots of unknowns and we’ll work them out as we go. Will involve the kids in constructive feedback and make adjustments. Together we are going to learn a whole lot more about oil. I’m excited. Scared. But excited.



Entry filed under: Environmental Education, Physics Topics, Project Based Learning, PROJECTS, The Problems with Oil Project. Tags: , , , .

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