Authentic Project Ideas – Solar Energy

How does Solar Energy work?  I thought I understood how it worked, but when it was explained to me by someone involved in the industry, I was totally surprised to learn that I did not understand it at all.

A great authentic project would be to not only learn about how solar energy works, but to think about ways to improve it.  Even the youngest learners can understand the basics of solar energy. Learners can also draw diagrams or make authentic models of how solar energy works. Or maybe even propose other alternative ways to create energy.

And remember that if this project turns into a discussion and plan of how to conserve energy, and that leads to planning a way to track energy consumption – that is authentic learning!

Authentic Project Ideas – Lemonade Stand That Makes a Difference

Summer is finally here, and kids are out of school and home for the summer. (Officially that is – most have been home for months.)  This is the time that summer lemonade and baked good stands start to appear. 

With so many people struggling to make ends meet due to the Coronavirus and the economic impact of the shutdowns, it would be a great authentic project to turn these summer stands into fundraisers for local food banks. 

An authentic project such as a lemonade stand with home-made cookies includes reading recipes, using math to make the lemonade and cookies, writing signs, more math to sell the lemonade and cookies…the authentic experiences are endless.

And it is never too early for kids to learn how good it feels to help those in need, and that every little bit helps.  It may not seem like much to donate a few dollars to a food bank, but it means the world to the family that gets food due to that donation. 

Authentic Project Ideas – Wood Board Games

Toys and games of the past were made out of wood.  There were so many simple, yet fun games, that were played in the past.  What were some of these games?  When and where were they created?  Who played them?

Create a new authentic board game.  Make the game board.  (Cardboard is fine if you don’t happen to be a wood carver!)  Create your own rules.  Teach the game to your friends.

And if it is a game that can be played over Zoom, if you make one and send it to your friends as well – even better!

Stay Safe!

Authentic Project Ideas – Designing a Ferris Wheel

This was a small, simple Ferris Wheel that I saw at a carnival last summer.  It actually looked kind of sad to me – it definitely needed a tad more creativity in the design. Perhaps a theme, a little decoration, something…

Which got me thinking about designing a Ferris Wheel.  Students could add creative carriages, etc.  And for older students there is the engineering behind Ferris Wheels.  The history of Ferris Wheels, famous Ferris Wheels…

And always remember that this is just the starting point.  If a student ends up doing research on the clouds seen from the top of the Ferris Wheel – that’s an authentic project!

*We were in London about a decade ago with our children and didn’t ride the London Eye because it was expensive. We are still kicking ourselves!

Authentic Project Ideas – Sunsets

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Why are sunsets so fascinating?  Why do people love to photograph sunsets?  What causes the different colors in the sky that we sometimes see at sunset?  What caused the ring around the sun in this photo?

Lots of authentic projects here:  researching/explaining what causes the beautiful colors we sometimes see at sunset.  Poetry about sunsets.  Creating a photo journal of sunsets…

And remember, questions and prompts are a starting point.  So, if this turns into a project about explaining that our sun is a star, that all stars are suns, how many stars we think there might be in our galaxy, how many galaxies there might be in our universe…that is authentic learning!

*I am entering this photo in our county fair this summer in the “sunrise/sunset” category.  Wish me luck!

Authentic Project Ideas – Recording History in the Making

State College Penn State University    April 2, 2020

We are all living through a historical event of world-wide impact.  As with all history, we learn from what we experience, and should record these lessons for the future.

Keeping a diary, log, or photo-journal of current events about COVID-19 is an authentic way to record history in the making.  It is also a way to open up honest communication with our children about what is happening.  Honest age-appropriate communication to stress the importance of what is happening, while allaying overwhelming fears.  Even young children can keep a photo-journal of current events, without focusing on the parts they are not old enough to process and handle.

There are unbelievable pictures of empty streets in cities throughout the world.  Scenes that most of us have never seen in our lifetime.  This is an opportunity to learn more about our world, our inter-dependence, and develop a greater appreciation for others.  This is a time to increase our humanity.

The focus of my blog is authentic learning.  Make it real and make it count.  There is no better way to teach and learn.  Education is also the key to understanding, and understanding helps replace fear with rational thought and action.

Stay Safe, Stay Well

Project Ideas for Teaching at Home

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I have always felt that authentic projects were the best way to teach.  With so many parents being called upon to educate their children at home, I wanted to reach out again to offer the ideas on my blog.

I started this blog as a way to share my passion, authentic teaching and learning.  I retired a few years ago, and I was ready to slow down.  But, I found that I still needed an outlet as a teacher.  My blog allows me to continue to share the ideas that I have about how to authentically educate children.

Thank you for allowing me to share my passion.  Best wishes to everyone and stay healthy.

Authentic Project Ideas – Designing and Running an Airport

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What does it take to run an airport?  How many different types of jobs are there at airports? If you stop and watch for a while, it’s amazing how many people are involved in keeping an airport running and getting flights into the air.

A great authentic project might be to do research and then create a chart of all the jobs that it takes to run an airport.  What type of training does each job require?  Education?  Experience?  And don’t forget the jobs involved with running an airline.

Another authentic project could be to propose a location for a new airport. What needs to be considered when proposing a new site for an airport?  Design this new airport. Draw up plans, build a model.  (Research/Reading, Writing, Math…)

And why is it that whenever I have to change planes at an airport, the two gates are as far from each other as possible?

 

Authentic Project Ideas – A Photograph as Inspiration

Cape Canaveral

Flying down to Florida recently, we had an amazingly clear day.  We could see the ground for almost the entire flight.  In all my years of flying down to Florida (I grew up in South Florida) I have never seen views like this.  The picture above is a photo of Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center in Central Florida.  You can see two launch pads, the Vehicle Assembly Building, and the shuttle landing strip!

This, of course, got me thinking about authentic projects.  So many ways to go just using this photo as a prompt.

Why were we able to see so much on this flight?  I have flown this flight dozens and dozens of times and never had this view. What was different about the weather?  What might have caused this?

Or…what is currently being constructed in the Vehicle Assembly Building?  What mission is being planned?

Or…why was the cape built right on the ocean?  Weather?  Safety?  Politics?  (That certainly entered into play for the location of the Johnson Space Center and Mission Control in Houston.)

Or…how many NASA centers are there in the United States?  What is the mission of each center?  What space programs exist in other countries?  Segue into the International Space Station.

Create a timeline of all space missions that have happened.  Identify them by countries involved.  Locate these countries on a map. Learn about the history of the space programs in these countries. Write a report, create a chart or graph…

Design and build a model rocket.  Design and build a model for a new space station.  Plan a new mission…

The sky (and beyond) is the limit with this photo and authentic projects that it might inspire…

Authentic Project Ideas – Alligators

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First of all, let me just state, that my husband took this photo in Everglades National Park in South Florida and I think he was way too close to that gator!   (OK…he was on an official park tour and the guide told them how close they could get…and he followed all the rules…and Great-Grandma was with him…but…Are You Kidding Me!)

That being said, I tend to get most of my blog ideas from photos that either I have taken, or that family members or friends give me.  It is amazing how many ideas you can get from a photo.  If you think about it, photos are visual memories of what we have seen and done.  I really don’t think I would come up with a quarter of the ideas I have without looking at photos.

So when I saw this photo (after my initial horror) I thought about all the interesting authentic projects you could do about alligators.  Basic facts about alligators. How they live.  Where they live.  What they eat…

Their history in South Florida has been one of near extinction to the re-population of the species.  How was this accomplished?  Why was this important?  Most people react to gators the way I do.  Why do we care if a species like the alligator becomes extinct?  (Great authentic lessons here about humanity, ecosystems, and the interdependency of species.)

How is an alligator different from a crocodile?  Where are alligators found?  Crocodiles?

Lots of ways to go with this…and just remember…snap that picture and run!