Coolest Freshman PBL Ever – Touchless Gardening

June 15, 2016 at 3:06 PM Leave a comment

Today’s keynote at PBL World was actual students who presented every bit as professionally as adults. Impressive self confidence speaking. This is really what the PBL experience stands to produce. PBL will provide really compelling experiences for college entrance and for being employed by companies needing good design thinkers. This will be especially compelling to upper middle class communities such as ours. The PBL experience has made the girls much more flexible and diverse in their ambitions for the future. That’s likely to be true for the 21st Century workplace.


Briana Das and her sister developed a system for growing plants three times faster than normal – a step beyond hydroponics – misting the water and nutrients around the roots in a covered plastic bucket. They call themselves Team Awesome with the Nueva School, the project is ‘Aeroponics’. Here’s the video clip showing what they did. They presented at a Bay Area Maker ‘Teach In’. Here’s the search for ideas of where to go with this. Nueva School is a private school with two campuses in affluent communities in the south Bay Area. Would be worth a visit as we set up PBL at OIS. It’s very expensive, $40,000 p.a. for HS. But imagine ‘private school experience in Orinda public schools’. 

Briana also shared the process of designing a solution to the tech challenge from San Jose Tech Museum: Design and build a solution that can help rid the universe of space junk by getting an inoperative satellite to burn up upon re-entry (2010 challenge). I wonder if we could use this as a source of inspiration for especially physics/engineering teachers.

Another idea: Turn the classroom into a ‘medical center’ had teams for various branches of medicine ex. orthopedics. Then had to teach the class for 2 days, including presentations, lab, assessments and even homework.

‘Kreative Kits’ developed by Briana: a monthly 20 minute kit for a creative challenge. See her info graphic too. She is involved with many further projects.

See KQED Quest website for some amazing engineering challenges around plastics, making shake tables and citizen science and more.

Grading for PBL at Nueva School is similar to the ‘No Grade’ policy where students pass or try again. Have advisory classes twice a week. One is dedicated to their progress on their Quest project. Have a mentor who keeps students accountable and on track. If falling behind the mentors help.

What about the hard academics like calculus? 2 days of calculus course. Culminating project. Individual meeting with teachers is a key piece. This will be a significant challenge to the 1 to 26 teacher/student ratio in public education.

It may be worth looking at OUTSIDE SCHOOL HOURS for PBL/Maker projects funded by Parents Club, projects that will lead to and from what’s being studied in class. This might be a way to ramp up the implementation in the classroom.

When asked, the Das sisters said that a good PBL teacher is all about energy and enthusiasm. Teachers who love learning with us. It’s a symbiotic relationship.





Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

PBL World ‘Summer Camp’ PBL 101 with the Buck Institute, the Genuine Gold Standard in PBL

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