Project Learning with Automated, Networked Supports
The PLANS project provides NGSS-aligned, hands-on design projects to help students combine science and engineering practices, disciplinary concepts, and crosscutting themes towards creating and testing design ideas for exploring issues such as solar energy, self-propelled vehicles, sound waves and climate change. PLANS researches strategies for guiding students to develop coherent understanding of central science concepts.
In the days following completion of the projects, we had good classroom discussions that lead me to believe that students not only enjoyed the projects, but they also got good exposure to the engineering design cycle and drew real connections between the scientific concepts and their scooters. Students also learned to not get discouraged and to keep pushing when they experienced setbacks during building and testing.
PLANS units help students to apply science ideas and concepts through design challenges. In these units, students produce models, graphs, explanations, essays, and designed artifacts. They critique their own and others’ designs and engage in a process of testing and refinement.
PLANS technologies automatically assesses student responses and their use of software tools to generate guidance that supports learning.
PLANS curriculum units include the Student Notebook tool, a persistent space for students to make and test conjectures and to reflect upon their collected data and evidence. Students can use the Notebook to make text notes, import data tables and graphs, and annotate visual artifacts to help them organize their ideas.
Using evidence and artifacts collected in the Notebook, students plan out and construct design reports and other artifacts to share what they’ve learned with classmates, teachers, and their communities.