Authentic Project Idea – Building a Bird Feeder

Birds

There are so many authentic projects that can be inspired by bird feeders.  Do different kinds of birds need different kinds of feeders? Do different kinds of birds eat different kinds of bird food?  Once you start feeding birds it is important to not stop.  Why?  How about designing and building a bird feeder?  (Research/reading, writing, math, science…)

In my neighborhood we have a huge problem with bears feeding from the bird feeders.  To the point that we have been asked to not put out bird feeders.

So maybe a great authentic project would be to design a bear-proof bird feeder.  Let me know what you come up with –  I would love to be able to put up a bird feeder in my backyard!

 

Authentic Project Idea – Trains

Train

Trains have always fascinated people.  There is something about watching a train come down the tracks.  Where is it coming from?  Where is it going?  What is it carrying?

So many authentic project ideas:  The history of trains. Who invented the train?  In what country did trains first run?  How did trains lead to the settlement of the United States?  How much cargo is carried by trains in your country/in other countries?  What influences the use of trains in a country – harbors/water access for ships, terrain, expense…

What problems are trains facing today?  Design a better/faster train? Build a model train.  The history of model trains…

What is the inside of Queen Elizabeth’s private train car like? Design a private train car fit for a queen.  That would be my project!

Authentic Project Idea – Caverns and Caves

Cavern

Caverns and caves. What secrets do they hold? What are the most famous caverns and caves?  Why?  Where are they located? What is the difference between a cavern and a cave?  How do they form? How long do they take to form?  Are they still forming/changing?  What is the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite? How do they form?  How long do they take to form?  What is a spelunker?

Lots of research…lots of directions this could go as an authentic project.  You may end up with student created stalactites and stalagmites, a student created cavern… or a student written novel about a lost treasure found in a cave…

Authentic Project Idea – Trees as Gifts

Washington Monument

Why did the Japanese give Cherry Blossom trees to the city of Washington, D.C.?

What is the story behind the gift?  Do the trees represent something?  Are Cherry Blossom trees well suited for the D.C. climate, was that why they were chosen?

What tree would be a good gift from one country to another?  Have other countries received trees as gifts? What kind of tree would make a good gift for a special birthday?  Why is a tree a good gift?  How can you gift a tree to someone?

So many questions that might lead to an authentic project.  And if you end up the proud owner of a special tree in a big pot in your home, or in your yard, you can thank me later!

Authentic Project Idea – Fallingwater

Fallingwater copy

Fallingwater, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is one of the most iconic homes of the 20th century.  Wright’s use of surrounding landscape in design was way ahead of his time. His designs were inspirational, amazing, and stunningly beautiful.

The family that owned Fallingwater originally wanted the home to sit on land with a view of the waterfall that was on their property.  Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home to sit on top of the waterfall.

There are so many authentic projects that Fallingwater could inspire.  A biography and study of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs would be a fascinating project.  Designing and even building a model influenced by his structures would be another fantastic project.

This one really has me intrigued.  I would love to see reports about/photos of authentic projects that might spring from a study of Frank Lloyd Wright and/or Fallingwater!

*Fallingwater is located in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a visit!

Authentic Project Idea – The Ukulele…Maybe

Ukulele

I recently ate at a restaurant which was decorated with ukuleles.  I really know very little about ukuleles. Where were they invented?  Where are they popular? What is the difference between a ukulele and a guitar? Do they tend to be played for a specific kind of music?

Projects could include a timeline history of the ukulele.  Perhaps comparing and contrasting string instruments.  Building a string instrument.  Learning to play a string instrument.  Writing music for a string instrument.  Performing on a string instrument.  Researching the history of the flute – remember for true authentic learning, the project is driven by student interest.  If your student is not interested in ukuleles, this can be a jumping off point for another musical instrument.  If this leads to a discussion about marching bands, which leads to a discussion about football, which leads to a project about football…that is authentic learning!

Authentic Project Idea – Monuments

Lincoln Memorial

I live about four hours from Washington, D.C.  The city is full of wonderful monuments for just about anything and everything.  Some are fascinating, some are informative, some entertaining, and many extremely solemn.

Behind every monument is a story.  I have had the privilege to travel and visit many countries, and the one thing that all countries have are monuments.  And every monument tells a story.

Monuments could definitely inspire an authentic project.  A monument might inspire a student to research more about the person or event that the monument honors.  It might inspire a project about constructing monuments.  Or it might inspire a student created monument to a person or event that a student wishes to honor.  Lots of jumping off points.

*If you look closely at the picture of the Washington Monument at the bottom of this blog, you will notice the color of the stone changes about one-third of the way up…Why?  Interesting authentic story to research…

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