Students at Granville Boys High School (GBHS) are steering their way through Science, Mathematics, TAS, and PDHPE in transdisciplinary PBL.
This year saw GBHS’s implementation of PBL with Year 7 students. However, the school has had two years of preparation and professional learning prior to the implementation of PBL. Grant Odei, who works in the TAS and STEM departments at GBHS, believes that passionate teachers, professional development, flexibility and collaborative technology are crucial to the successful delivery of PBL. Grant shares information about GBHS’s recent PBL project, ‘F1 race cars’.
F1 race cars
- Target Year level: Stage 4, Year 7
- Target Subject/s: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, PDHPE
- Project driving question: What does it take to be first place in a Formula 1 race?
- Key Outcomes:
- Science: PW1, PW2, PW3, PW4, LW2, LW3, ES3, SC4-4WS (WS4 a-b), SC4-5WS (WS 5.1 a-c, WS 5.2 a-d, WS 5.3 a-b) ,SC4-6WS (WS6 a-g), SC4-7WS (WS7.2 a-f), SC4-8WS (WS8 a-e), SC4-9WS (WS9 a-e).
- Mathematics: MA3-1WM, MA3-2WM, MA3-4NA, MA3-3WM, MA4-4NA, MA3-18SP,MA3-10MG, MA3-9MG, MA4-1WM, MA4-2WM, MA4-3WM, MA4-19SP, MA4-20SP, MA4-4NA, MA4-5NA , MA4-7NA, MA4-13MG, MA4- 15MG
- TAS: 4.1.1, 4.3.1, 4.6.1
- PDHPE: 4.6, 4.10
Students in their teams designed and developed a miniature F1 race car which was powered by a CO2 canister. Students worked in groups to create a team to represent a Formula 1 race team. The teams were responsible for the design, construction and branding of the team in an effort to win first place in an upcoming F1 miniature race competition.
Examples of student projects include a miniature F1 Race car, a design portfolio, logo design and branding, and presentations.
Aligning with key elements of Project Based Learning
Collaborative – Collaboration is one of the 4C’s which was explicitly explored in the delivery of this project. Students understood that to be successful in the development of a product, several members of a team must play a key role just like in the real world. The students created roles within their teams to ensure the successful development of their product/s.
Multifaceted Assessment – The formative and summative assessments students were required to submit included design elements, portfolio and documentation of their design process. Students were also required to articulate in a presentation their understanding of the various sciences and mathematics that accompanied the design and development of a race car.
Real World Connection – The exhibition of the team’s final product/ project involved a feedback section from engineering experts from UTS motorsport. The engineering experts discussed various ways students could improve their race cars to gain a competitive advantage.
PBL challenges and enablers
The logistics of running the PBL program in a low SES school can have many challenges. However, that doesn’t mean they cannot be overcome. We ran into difficulty when the timetabled teacher was away and hence the continued learning suffered. Initially our Year 7 students struggled with the model when we approached PBL as they were new to the pedagogy.
Enablers that fostered the implementation of effective PBL included, passionate teachers who were purpose driven and wanted PBL to thrive, a clear understanding of PBL which was achieved through the school’s learning journey, flexibility to accommodate challenges that come along the way, and the use of ICT in the form of collaboration tools such as Google drive/Classroom.
“The entry event and the exhibition were really fun and exciting. However, we could do more in the middle.” – Teacher
“I wasn’t sure what to expect during the exhibition but it took me by surprise. Thanks for inviting us.” – UTS Motorsport team member
“The best of the project was the racing” – student
“This is the first time my son has been so proud of his school work.”- Parent
Top PBL Tips
See PBL in action at a neighboring school and develop what will work best for your school.
Be flexible and prepared to work hard to develop the foundational skills and provide authentic learning experiences of your student.
By Grant Odei. Grant Odei is Head Teacher Technological and Applied Studies at Granville Boys High School.