Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Marshmallow Challenge: PBL primer

Last week I trained Teach for America (TFA) teachers about Project Based Learning (PBL) at Boston University. One of the PBL implementation challenges they expressed is time constraints. I recommended taking it one step at a time. Start with small projects and over time build up to big projects with big impact.

There are many mini projects new or veteran teachers can implement. One that I came across recently is the Marshmallow Challenge. Tom Wujec, a designer and educator, has done this challenge with thousands of people ranging from students to CEOs. Using spaghetti, string and other simple materials teams build a structure to support a marshmallow. This project is a good segway to classroom subjects such as center of gravity or the geometry of triangle structures. This also a great activity to facilitate creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills through design based learning.