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Problem-Based Learning Keeps Students Interested

Problem-Based Learning Keeps Students Interested

You know what’s great? A problem-based learning (PBL) exercise that stands the test of time. 

Last year we featured Kimberly Bender, an Elementary Science Institute (ESI) alumna, in our blog post titled “A Whole New World of Friends.” In the post, Kimberly talked about how VISTA taught her how to create a PBL – and how excited she was to implement one in her own classroom. Her class of 5th graders at Bellwood Elementary in Chesterfield, VA were excited too, since the PBL consisted of adopting a baby loggerhead turtle from the Virginia Aquarium’s AquaPALS project!

Perhaps not surprisingly, the class named the turtle Aqua.

Last year, Aqua was finally released into the wild after having grown to the size of a dinner plate. As Aqua grew, Kimberly found herself keeping up with the project via Edmodo, a social platform that allowed her to connect with students online.

Even though she teaches 6th science this year and last year's students have graduated her class, she can still connect via Edmodo to discuss the turtle project and other wildlife and marine science issues. Her students from last year were pretty excited when she shared the release news and told them that they can track Aqua's movements through the ocean via 

This year, Kimberly and her classroom are conducting a project with a type of fish known as the Brook Trout. Her 6th graders (and kids from all over the school) are already enjoying Kimberly's 55 gallon tank, which is filled with over 150 trout that the students are raising from eggs. In true PBL form, Kimberly's students are learning by doing as they test the water quality, pH level and temperature in the tank; discuss the impact these variables have on trout growth; and record their results in a Google spreadsheet daily. 

As Kimberly exclaims: "hands-on science never gets old!"


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