Thursday, February 25, 2016

1st Grade Biomimicry PBL Unit

BCS first graders are engaged in a new biomimicry PBL unit where they are creating solutions to the driving question: “How can we use what we know about how animals and plants protect themselves to safeguard a human baby or child?”

To help formulate a solution to this question, the students first investigated the different features plants and animals use as protection against hostile elements. They dissected the bulb of an iris flower to examine its function in the plant’s survival and they explored various animal adaptations including camouflage, quills, smells, and more.

A pregnant teacher also spoke to the students about how the body is designed to protect an unborn baby and the first graders had a thought-provoking discussion about what parents can do to keep a baby safe once it is born.

Incorporating what they learned about plants and animals, the first graders then applied their design thinking skills to the driving question, and engaged their critical thinking and problem solving skills to create solutions for this real world scenario. They researched different ways a human baby or child can be injured: falling, choking, being exposed to cold, having damage to a baby’s soft spot, etc. Each student then presented ideas for how to prevent these injuries and keep the child safe.

In the makerspace, the students developed designs to protect a child from one of the identified risks, incorporating two animal adaptations they previously researched. The students sketched out one of their ideas, and made a prototype of their design. They presented their models to their teachers and peers, analyzing which aspects of the prototype worked or didn’t work. Meeting Common Core criteria, they also labeled the function of the different parts of their creations. 
The students have been very active uploading pictures of their completed work to Freshgrade so their parents can follow their progress and learn more about how they are succeeding on personal FLGs such as working well with others, communicating with team members, and/or collaborating on investigations.

PBL units, such as this one, provide BCS students with the skills they need for the 21st century, including creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking. PBLs allow students to be engaged actively in their learning, giving them a deeper understanding of the content and helping them to retain this knowledge longer. Most importantly, PBLs teach students initiative and responsibility, helping to build confidence and encouraging students to problem solve and collaborate more effectively.

We are so excited by the progress these first graders have made on this new PBL unit and can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!