Authentic Project Ideas – Energy

OilRigQuiltQuilt by Chris Staver

Finding sources of energy on our planet is a huge issue.  Very few people don’t agree that we need to move to renewable and clean sources of energy.  What does that even mean, “renewable?”  What are current sources of “clean” energy?  What are all the different ways we get energy today?

Solar energy, wind turbines, fracking, oil, coal, water, wood… How do all of these provide energy, how do they work?  What are the pros and cons with each source?  What other ways might we get energy?  How can we conserve energy?

Lots of authentic energy topics to learn about and explore.

Authentic Project Ideas – Reindeer

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How did the story of Santa’s reindeer start?  Are there real reindeer?  Where do you find reindeer?  Did Santa’s reindeer always include Rudolph?  Do any of the other reindeer have special stories?

Write a new story about Santa’s reindeer.  Write a poem.  Draw a picture…

Create a new authentic way (make-believe qualifies) for Santa to pull his sleigh…

 

Authentic Project Ideas – The Nutcracker

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The Nutcracker. What is the history of the Nutcracker?  What country did the Nutcracker originate in?  How did the Nutcracker become associated with the holidays?

Design a Nutcracker.  Start a photo journal of unique Nutcrackers.  Make an authentic Nutcracker…

Most Nutcrackers are carved from wood.  What are other wooden toys?  How did toys of the past differ from toys of the present?  (Authentic projects start with one topic and frequently evolve to another topic.)

Authentic Project Ideas – Major Cities

MASS BOSTON

Major cities provide tons of authentic topics for teaching, learning, and exploration.  Why did a city end up where it did?  Boston definitely developed as a major sea port.  Were there other factors that influenced the growth of Boston?  New York City?  London?  Beijing?

What are the reasons that a city developed in a certain spot?  Water access, train lines, topography, climate, tourism, historical events…

Are those reasons changing today?  What determined the growth/decline of cities of the past?  What determines the growth/decline of cities today?  What might determine the growth/decline of cities in the future?

It would be interesting to chart/graph the growth/decline of cities in the past and present.  Maybe even adding into the chart/graph the reasons for the growth/decline…

And how about designing an authentic city for the future…

Authentic Project Ideas – Clouds versus Fog

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What a gorgeous fall morning!  Couldn’t resist this picture. So, are these clouds?  Fog?  What is the difference between clouds and fog?  We had had a ton of rain the day before.  Did the wet conditions contribute to this?  Also, we live up in the mountains.  Did altitude contribute to this?

What causes clouds?  What causes fog?  Can this effect be reproduced in an experiment inside a controlled environment?  Is the composition of my photo any good?  How could I take a better photo? What makes a photo interesting. (Feedback appreciated.  I enter my photos in our county fair every summer and I love ribbons!)  Authentic jumping off point for several projects…

Authentic Project Ideas – Spinning Wheels

MASS Spinning Wheel

How do spinning wheels work?  How important were spinning wheels to people in the past? How is wool spun into yarn today?

In what children’s story is wool spun into gold?  What other children’s stories involve spinning wheels?  Write a story involving a spinning wheel.

Make a spinning wheel. Lots of authentic directions to go from the starting point of the spinning wheel.  And I am busy trying to turn the yarn I just bought into gold, I will let you know how that goes!

Authentic Project Ideas – Jobs of the Past, Present, and Future

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In centuries past, many (most?) jobs involved agriculture and/or production of tangible goods.  Today many (most?) jobs involve information.  What will the jobs of the future be?  Will we still have farms? (We will always need food, but will it come from farms?) Will people be needed to work on farms?  Will there still be small businesses?

What are some jobs from the past that no longer exist?  What are some jobs that exist now that are going away?

Many authentic ways that students could answer and present the above questions.  Reports, charts, graphs, posters, living history presentations…

And…students could create a resume for a future job that they would like to have.  What can they do now to authentically prepare for this job?