Project-based science is a great way to teach science. It includes the development of a Driving Question. This question must be feasible, worthwhile, meaningful, contextualized, and sustainable. This question then lends itself to a research question known as an Investigative Question. From here research is conducted to answere the question.
For example, our Driving Question is "What is in our water?". The Investigative Question is "Is the phosphorous levels in Lake Okeechobee affecting the Everglades Ecosystem?". As part of our research we traveled to the Kissimmee River and collected water samples. (The two pages titled, "Pictures" show our fantastic trip. Check them out!)
This project demonstrates several learning theories.
The learning theory of constructivism is applied in this project-based science. Constructivism requires an active learner. The learner plays an active role in his or her building of knowledge. The students participate actively while observing, communicating, classifying, inferring, and predicting. Gathering data to answer the investigative question requires hands-on involvement.
The metacognition theory is also applied in this project. This theory means the student will understand what he or she is thinking about. This is applied in that the students must be able to explain what they are thinking in order to communicate with peers as well as the teacher how they reached their inference and prediction.
Since a good deal of research is used, students must possess self-discipline. This self-discipline allows a student to conduct research and other data gathering tactics on his or her own. Motivation is constant because learning becomes easier. In this Self-Regulated Learning theory, students are constantly checking their understanding of the content and making corrections when necessary. Project-based science requires self-regulation.
Self-efficacy theorizes that students have a personal belief about the ability to succeed. This means that the student will take measures to reach the desired outcome. The student will persist and work harder to attain their goal. Due to unforeseen challenges and obstacles, this is important in project-based science.