Slogging Through the Mud in PBL

--Originally published at FLN Hub Syndicated Posts – Emerging Education Technologies

In October I was presented with a marvelous opportunity, building quad copters in my Scientific Research and Design (SRD) class. My classes and I enthusiastically started off on a journey that would end with a cool result. The plan is to evaluate our skills, define our needs/plan, find an appropriate quad copter, create a proposal for administrators, purchase, build and execute the plan. It all sounds interesting, to me. To the students, some of it has been more work than fun. (They were expecting fun!)
The work becomes hard when students are asked to do something that has usually been provided for them in the past. Deciding which quad copter and defending the choice was the first big hurdle where student interest started to dwindle. By suggesting we don’t just present, we “Shark Tank” the presentations with administrators as the panel got the students re-energized. They even tried to get Mark Cuban to come and Shark Tank their projects. Mr. Cuban didn't make it, but our superintendent made a last minute appearance. Having a real audience helped students see the importance of their work. 
Now we have chosen and are finding out that what we are going to do is dangerous and there are possible legal issues. They are doing research for our principal to present to risk management. To keep them interested, we’re doing small experiments that will help with the quad copters later on. Propellers and shapes in wind tunnels, parachute design and air resistance. We are nearing the end and should be able to order our parts soon.

I anticipate the build to be exciting. I’m sure that there will be struggles. Keeping a whole class going on the one project is interesting. We will have a blogger, a safety planner, a flight trainer along with the students who are digging into the actual build. Wish me luck as I try to avoid another mud puddle.


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