Problem Based Learning, or PBL, is a teaching approach where kids get to learn a variety of intangible skills while trying to solve a problem. It gives students the chance to draw from knowledge across several disciplines and urges them to solve real-world problems. This approach facilitates learning that transcends past the classroom and cultivates an eagerness for lifelong learning. Here are 20 problem-based learning activities to help students become well-rounded learners.
1. Create a Planet
Challenge students to create their own planets but give them certain guidelines they need to adhere to. Make it livable for humans or let them imagine the fauna and flora an alien civilization might be accustomed to. This will let them think creatively but also address the real-world problem of our own planet becoming uninhabitable.
Learn more: Appletastic Learning
2. Lay Out a House
Kids get to design the layout of a house or should recreate a house that they already know. With this learning activity, they can also calculate the surface area of the home and furniture and try to redesign the house to optimize living space.
Learn more: The Owl Teacher
3. Create a Sustainable City
This problem-based learning activity looks at the complex issue of sustainable living on a grand scale, beyond individual responsibility. Students assess the problems that cities face and think of realistic ways they can be addressed to promote sustainability.
Learn more: PBS Learning Media
4. Find a New Home
Students should imagine their town has been contaminated by a nuclear event and they now need to seek a new home for their friends and family. Study various biomes and investigate why each would be suitable or not suitable as a new place to live.
Learn more: Studylib.net
5. Healthy Lunch
The problem of unhealthy school lunches is a persistent one and affects students directly. Let them explore the nutritional value of their cafeteria lunches and come up with a sustainable and healthy alternative to feed their growing bodies and ensure student satisfaction at lunchtime.
Learn more: The Health Teacher
6. Plan a Roadtrip
Combine dozens of topics with this thrilling problem-based learning activity. Set a budget and let students plan a cross-country road trip, considering all the elements like fuel consumption, accommodation, and food expenses. They should also learn about important monuments or points of interest along the way.
Learn more: Social Studies Aloft
7. Community Garden
The global hunger crisis is one of those complex, real-world issues that kids might not think they can get involved in. But this activity shows them how community involvement can start small but make a big impact. They should apply their classroom knowledge of nutrition and plant growth to find the most cost-effective and sustainable gardening solution.
8. Packaging Problem
This generation of students is constantly bombarded with the issues of waste management but they seldom get a chance to try and solve the problem. They should use their critical thinking skills to come up with alternative packaging or packaging that reduces waste instead of trying to completely eliminate the problem.
Learn more: Mrs O's House
9. Redesign Your School
Students are always critical of their schools and the system but this project will give them the opportunity to have their voices heard and think of ways they would redesign their school for optimal student satisfaction. This is also an opportunity to receive helpful facilitator feedback and see what students want from their learning environment.
Learn more: Teach It
10. Become a Youtuber
Combine students' love for Youtube with a problem-solving activity by letting them imagine their own channel where they help to address problems their peers face. They can use the forces of the internet for good to address mental health, time management, self-esteem, and more. It develops critical thinking skills as they need to identify a niche audience and find a way to help them.
Learn more: Book Widgets
11. Create an App
Students are all tethered to their phones so let them create their own apps in a problem-based learning activity. They should identify a need among themselves and design an app that will help users solve that need effectively. They could touch on education-related topics or focus on apps that will make their everyday lives easier. Students don't need advanced technical skills or coding abilities as they can simply conceptualize the apps on paper.
Learn more: Teachers Pay Teachers
12. Do a TEDtalk
Letting students create a TEDtalk is an excellent opportunity to help them develop communication skills. These talks aren't only motivational but many of them draw from research or real-world problems to address a larger concern. They can share classroom knowledge with a broad audience which will also facilitate growth in communication skills.
Learn more: Crafted Curriculum
13. Create a Podcast
This student-centered approach will let them identify issues in their peer groups and create their own communication channel to reach other students. Effective learning strategies combine what students already know and love, like podcasts, with an open-ended problem where they have the freedom to explore a variety of solutions. This will also put their technological skills to the test as they get to use very basic recording software.
Learn more: The New York Times
14. Create a Social Media Campaign
Social media can also be a source of good and it is up to your students to find out how. They must identify a problem and create a social media campaign with public service announcements to create awareness and see how these tools can be used for good.
Learn more: English Teaching 101
15. Create a Business
Help students with financial literacy by letting them create a business from the ground up. They should identify a need in their community and create a business proposal that will be able to meet this demand and serve their surroundings.
Learn more: Cabarrus
16. Pizzeria Problem
This problem-based learning activity will combine match and business skills to let students calculate profit margins and see how they can increase the income potential of their make-believe pizzeria. Let them create the most profitable and delicious pizza they can come up with for an extra challenge.
Learn more: EconEdLink
17. Build a Playground
This is a creative activity for younger students who are starting to discover geometry. Get them to see the real-life application of the subject by designing their dream playground, making these difficult concepts easier to understand. Let them center the playground around a theme or make it mobility friendly.
Learn more: Prodigy Game
18. Design a Flag
Flags are complex symbols and students love learning about the meaning behind the various colors and images on flags. Students should research their community or town and gain a deep knowledge of their surroundings to create a flag that best represents them or promotes a collaborative school culture.
Learn more: Pen Pal Schools
19. Fashion Design Project
Students should take what they know about traditional costumes or team uniforms and create their own problem-solving garb. Whether it be season-appropriate or serves a purpose, the garments they can come up with must be inclusive and serve a specific demographic at the same time.
Learn more: Study.com
20. Create a Holiday
Create a collaborative learning opportunity where students design their own national holiday. Thye could celebrate an aspect of their everyday lives or identify an underrepresented community that needs to be celebrated.
Learn more: Ventura Museum