What is Phenomenon-Based Learning?

Phenomenon-Based Learning (PBL) builds knowledge of—and interest in—physical science as a result of observations of real-world phenomena, in this case, some fun gizmos and gadgets.   Why PBL?   PISA assessments showed that Finnish students were among the top in science proficiency levels.   The PBL teaching philosophy combines elements of what’s done in Finland with what’s known about effective science teaching based on science education research to present science in ways that are both fun and educational.   The approach includes elements of progressive inquiry, problem-based learning, collaborative learning, responsive teaching, and hands-on experiments.   The idea is to teach broader concepts and useful thinking and performance skills (as with NGSS) rather than asking students to simply memorize facts and formulae.   Students will investigate an interesting gadget and, motivated by their own curiosity, explore and discover how it works and what physical phenomena are involved.   Thus the PBL approach to learning is based on curiosity and creativity—a fun way to learn!

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