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Problem-based Learning with Spongelab

What is problem-based learning?

Problem-based learning (PBL) is a pedagogical approach in which students take an active role in the learning process. Presented with everyday problems, students work together to formulate and test hypotheses by using both physical and digital resources. The goal of PBL is to equip students with problem-solving skills that can be applied inside as well as outside the classroom.

How can Spongelab help?

Present students with a problem

Use Spongelab to create and deploy a lesson that introduces the main problem. Use our reservoir of Spongelab content and/or upload your own.

Example: Design a lesson around how to build a mousetrap car, and present a problem: how can we make the mousetrap car go faster?

Formulate a hypothesis

In groups, have students research the problem, brainstorm ideas, and formulate a testable hypothesis. Encourage students to explore Spongelab content as well as other digital and physical resources to help come up with ideas.

Example: After watching the linked video Science of the Winter Olympics-Curling, students might hypothesize that reducing friction will make the mousetrap car go faster.

Test the hypothesis

Have students test their hypotheses. This can be achieved through performing:

1) Physical projects
Example: The students might test whether altering the surface material on which the mousetrap car travels changes its average speed.

2) Computer-based simulations
Example: The students might test this principle virtually by using use the Forces in 1 Dimension simulation to see how altering the friction coefficient affects velocity of an object in motion.

Report and share projects

Have the leader of each group make a "Class" (group) on Spongelab and invite the other group members. Students can use a combination of Spongelab and uploaded content to make a "Lesson" (project) that describes the rationale for performing the experiment, their hypothesis, results, and conclusion. The can be submitted to the teacher for evaluation by inviting them to their group and assigning them the lesson and presented to the class by using the presenting tool.

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