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I have been asked about STEM PBL books and information. At the risk of self-promotion I am posting the references to two books that deal with the current state of issue. I wrote them both so I am biased but both books were the result of working with teachers for the last four years. The second book is a compilation of lessons by teachers for teachers who have participated in the work.

1. Capraro, R. M., Capraro, M. M., Morgan, J., & Scheurich, J. (Eds.) (2010 -available now from the publisher by advance order). A companion to interdisciplinary STEM project based learning: For teachers by teachers. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.
2. Capraro, R. M., & Slough, S. W. (Eds.). (2008). Project based learning: An integrated science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) approach. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

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Comment by Robert on October 13, 2009 at 4:35pm
As we were working with schools dealing with improving STEM Education their interests were in engineering fields. So our research lead us to using an engineering model (project) instead of a medical model (problem). The engineering model uses established constraints to set parameters with a goal of having divergent solutions as compared to a medical model where the problem defines the task and the purpose is to create excellent diagnosticians who come to a convergent diagnosis of the problem to facilitate treatment. So if you ask me the simple distinction I would say convergent versus divergent admissible solutions. Are there times that projects result in convergent solutions- the answer is yes - but this is usually an artifact of instruction and student development and not over specification of the tasks. In STEM Project based learning we talk about clearly defined outcomes and ill-defined tasks. Therefore, students have a clear understanding of what the end is but the path to get there is left to their devices.

We tell school district leaders and teachers to look to their curriculum and student performance - target high stakes objectives in areas where you have seen weaknesses in student understanding. It might also help to create synergy by paring multiple low objectives across content areas to support student learning and increase teacher awareness of how what they do in their classes can have broad implications. For example, in some districts where we work the scientific process skills have been linked to expository writing in the Language arts classes so both teachers are working the same skills but meeting different objectives.
Comment by Kim Lightle on October 13, 2009 at 3:31pm
Hi Robert - We are always looking for great STEM resources - thanks for sharing. You and I have had this discussion before - but remind me - what is the difference between project based learning and problem based learning? For those who aren't familiar with project based learning - give us a quick overview and where/how do you come up with project ideas? Thanks, Kim

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