Written by: Mrs. Kamille L. Dawson
Middle School Science/Math Teacher
Bonjour!!! I am back with the last update from Middle School Science for this school year! For our last venture, we did a Project Based Learning (PBL) project and asked the question, What If?
Before we explore the students’ projects, let us first discuss what PBL is. PBL stands for “Project Based Learning,” which is a student-centered pedagogy. This classroom dynamic is based on the belief that students acquire a deeper knowledge through actively exploring real-world challenges and problems. In this active inquiry-based learning, students learn about a subject by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to complex questions, challenges, or problems, creating the project aspect. PBL is strikingly different from traditional paper-based, rote memorization, or teacher-led instruction that presents established facts or depicts a straightforward path to knowledge by instead posing questions, problems, or scenarios.
John Dewey is recognized as one of the early proponents of project-based education or at least its principles through his idea of “learning by doing.” In My Pedagogical Creed (1897), Dewey identified his beliefs, including the view that “the teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these. William Heard Kilpatrick built on the theory of Dewey, who was his teacher, and introduced the project method as a component of Dewey’s problem method of teaching, which introduced the beginnings of what we now call project-based learning.
Now let’s introduce our Middle Schoolers PBL project! What If?
The project style was a futuristic question/challenge given to each middle school student, “What If?”. In the year 2040, each former PNA student and now Scientist is asked to help the world by discovering a new element that will make at least one positive contribution. Did they rise to the challenge?
See Below the Mission statement from Dr. Dawson and the Scientific Report of Information and Discovery from one of the brave Scientists:
In the year 2040, Dr. Kamille Dawson, head of the Galactic Earth Intervention Academy, decided to recruit some of the world’s leading Scientists to solve a long-standing problem. For nearly 15 years, there have been no positive contributions to the world from any field related to science or others.
Dr. Dawson, a former teacher, remembered her bright PNA students from years ago and made a decision to challenge them to a mission.
Dr. Kamille L. Dawson
Below are the questions each Scientist was asked. Did they rise to the challenge?
What if you were tasked with discovering your own element? How could your discovery impact the world in a positive way?
Name: Bella Torres
Date: November. 22, 2042
ELEMENT DISCOVERY AND NAMING: The element that I discovered was Antonium 2040. The origin of the name Antonium comes from the name of the dog Anton who saved many lives during an avalanche. The name Anton also means worthy of value in Latin.
ELEMENT PHYSICAL PROPERTIES: Antonium is a gas at room temperature. The classification of this element is nonmetal since it’s a noble gas. The Physical properties of Antonium are odorless, tasteless, and colorless, and it is highly reactive to water vapor. There is only one time when Anton is not a gas. This is when it is mixed with water vapor. When it mixes with water vapor, it prevents acid rain resulting in it becoming a liquid. In its liquid form, it is light weighted and has a slight blue coloring but still no flavor.
ELEMENT ORIGIN STORY: Antonium is not a common element; it was very hard for me to find. It is only found in the volcano Mount Tambora. This volcano is located in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. When this volcano erupted in 2040, a new element was found when my scientist collected a sample of the smoke. I just didn’t know I found a new element. Climate change, with the mix of the volcano not having erupted in more than one hundred years, was what created this new element in the first place.
When I used a microscope to inspect the newly found smoke, I saw something odd about it. Then after a few years of doing close inspections, I finally had enough information to say that I have discovered a new element.
This element on its own doesn’t do anything, but when Antonium is released into the air, it will prevent acid rain. This means that when it is in contact with water vapor, the chemical reaction will prevent acid rain. Acid rain is very harmful and is made when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are released into the environment. This happened because we are burning oil and coal, also called fossil fuels. Antonium is going to help the environment and many communities by decreasing the amount of acid rain downfall. Without acid rain, crops will remain healthy, and it won’t pollute rivers, causing any harm to fish or any other water life.