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?

Authentic Project Ideas – Shipping by Freight Train

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This one may be for middle/high school, although I really disliked it when folks underestimated my elementary kids…so this may work for elementary also.

My husband and I just took a lovely afternoon train ride booked as “The Fall Foliage Special.”  One thing we noticed was the amount of freight traffic coming through at our destination depot.  There were six trains in one hour!  There is definitely a lot of cargo being moved by trains.

It is amazing to watch these trains go by.  They seem to go on and on forever, usually being pulled by just two engines.  And returning to our starting point, the conductor mentioned that we were completing the final 20 miles of our journey using no energy as it was slightly downhill and the train had plenty of momentum.  (Trains/Energy/Momentum…Authentic Teaching/Learning…)

So, I started to wonder…what does it cost to ship a container on a freight train?  What is the cost differential of shipping something by truck versus freight train.  Is it cheaper to ship by train?  Why or why not?  What makes one more reasonable than the other?  Why is one picked over the other? (We live in Central Pennsylvania and I can assure you there is also no shortage of shipping being done by trucks on our highways!)

Maybe students can pick a cargo they want to ship from Destination A to Destination B and do a cost analysis of train versus truck.  And to further the authentic research, add shipping by airplane into the mix.  And don’t some of the freight containers that end up on a train arrive by ship?  How in the world is all of this coordinated?  And when I order two very different items from Amazon on two different days, how in the world do they arrive in the same box? Lots of authentic jumping off points!

 

 

Authentic Project Ideas – Fall Leaves

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Why do different trees turn different colors in the fall?  Reds, yellows, oranges…  What causes leaves to turn colors?  This season the leaves seem so much brighter and more colorful than they were last fall.  What causes leaves to be more colorful some years, and less colorful other years?

There are so many great projects to do with fall leaves.  Not only answering the questions above, but displays of leaves (labeled as to type of tree they came from), photo journals,  art projects using the leaves…

Many people like to hike and enjoy the gorgeous fall colors this time of year.  What other outdoor activities do people like to do in the fall?  If you look closely, in the picture above you can see a boat with some fishermen in it. Is fall a good time to fish?  And as always…if a discussion of fall leaves turns into a project about fishing…that is authentic teaching and learning!

Authentic Project Ideas – Blue Pumpkins

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So, this one kind of stumped me.  I had never seen blue pumpkins before, until I stumbled upon these in a local market.  (Maybe I have been living a sheltered life.)  Are blue pumpkins new or have they been around for a while?  How do you grow a blue pumpkin?  What other color pumpkins can you find?

Where do pumpkins grow best?  What part of the pumpkin do we eat?  What can the seeds be used for?

Create a display about different kinds of pumpkins.  Bake a pumpkin pie.  Predict how many seeds are inside a pumpkin.  Bake the pumpkin seeds.  Create pumpkin art with the seeds.  Bake something using the inside of an actual pumpkin (not canned pumpkin).

How did the Jack-O-Lantern tradition start?  What is the history of Halloween?  How did the tradition of eating pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving in America start?  What are Fall Holiday traditions in other countries?

And…upon researching blue pumpkins I stumbled across information about these pumpkins.  Blue pumpkins are being used to symbolize at least two really thoughtful things for Halloween Trick-or-Treaters.  I am not sure if this is just in America, or in other countries as well that celebrate Halloween.

Lots of authentic questions, lots of starting points for authentic projects.