PROBLEM DESIGN LAB

“These Labs have helped me be the kind of teacher I have always wanted to be, engaging with relevant issues outside of classroom walls and getting students excited about those issues.”

- Macy Zwanzig

Science Teacher, Redmond High School

Lake Washington School District

PBL PROBLEM DESIGN LABS

 

Teachers need time to study the kinds of problems that actually need solving at the community level. 

 

Teachers need support from both experts and colleagues to develop inspiring curriculum pathways where students apply academic standards in context of solving community challenges. 


We are building a professional community of practice, a laboratory on problem-based, place-based learning around the principles of educating for sustainability

 

TEACHER FELLOWS PROGRAM

Our Teacher Fellows Program empowers master teachers at the secondary level (grades 6-12) to lead a district-wide process on educating for sustainability through problem-based learning.

 

Teacher Fellows are paid a 12-month stipend to study local, regional and global sustainable system challenges including, climate change, equity and environmental justice, water, energy, food, transportation, zero waste, and green buildings. Learn more about our Teacher Fellows Program.

 

INQUIRY LAB

This 2-hour, after school Lab explores a question or problem related to a single sustainable systems challenge. Lab participants gain direct experience in developing an engaging entry event and launching problem-based learning. For example...​

  • What does diminishing snowpack mean for the future of our water supply?

  • What are the top three strategies for reducing our city’s carbon footprint?

  • What are the systemic benefits of designing all new buildings to be net zero energy?

  • How can we redesign our city for bikes? 

  • Which major companies are participating in the circular economy? Why?

 

SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS FOCUS LAB

This is a day-long practicum on how to develop an entry event, launch problem-based learning, support impact project design, and facilitate stakeholder reporting related to a single sustainable system challenge. Participants learn effective instructional strategies and explore a range of Living Textbook resources, videos and maps. Example: “How has Singapore used policy, planning and engineering to gain regional water independence through the integration of four different water systems, and how might we apply similar ideas and technologies here?”

 

Timeframe

6 STEM Clock Hours offered in 3 different formats

Saturday from 9:00-4:00

Release day from 8:30-3:30

Afterschool with two sessions of three hours each

 
EXAMPLES...

Wastewater Engineering and the Properties of Matter

World Water Challenge

Climate Change Impacts on the Puget Sound Ecosystem

Writing Water Scarcity Science Fiction

Engineering the Greenest Possible School Building

Bottled Water is Dumb Math

Rain Harvesting Math for my House in August

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR NEW PBL UNITS

This Lab is explicitly designed by and for Teacher Fellows and their peers at a particular grade level and academic subject. We support Fellows and their school districts in sharing the most successful PBL curriculum pathways with teaching peers. Peers benefit through their own, in-depth personal learning experience in understanding the real-world issues, accessing Living Textbook resources, and developing the requisite pedagogical skills for facilitating PBL. 


Timeframe: Developed by Fellows and their school districts.

 

TOWN HALL @ SCHOOL

Sustainable City Seminar Series

This program is a real-time Lab during the school day with students. It takes the form of a traditional Town Hall style meeting with City staff and Councilmembers engaged in interactive problem solving with students who have prepared for the event and are committed to taking action as a follow up.

The full learning experience takes place over one to three weeks including: (1) student preparation and research, (2) the Town Hall event, (3) follow up student project design, and (4) collective impact mapping. The seminar is held at a point in the academic year most conducive to both curriculum sequencing and city policy development timelines and programmatic work plans.

 

We focus on the high school level, convening 3-8 class sections during a shared block period in the library or auditorium. City staff and selected Councilmembers serve as local experts on content, policy, vision, and performance measures.

 
THREE LEARNING OUTCOMES

 

I understand sustainable systems and can guide students in meeting academic standards in context of improving sustainable community conditions.

 

I understand the principles of problem-based learning and can facilitate students through a process of inquiry, project design, data collection and stakeholder reporting.

 

I can incorporate “living textbook” resources including annotated links, expert voices on videos, and interactive community impact mapping.

 

EfS LAB SCHEDULE 

 

The EfS Lab is offered three times each summer, June, July and August from 9:00-4:00 with 30 STEM Clock Hours available. It is hosted throughout the region in partnership with city and county governments and one or more school districts. Visit our Events Page for current offerings.

SUMMER EfS LAB

This 5-Day, Educating for Sustainability (EfS) Lab makes learning real by exploring a new venue each day with a unique focus on one or more sustainable systems. The EfS Lab features interaction with technical experts from local government, academia, industry and the nonprofit sector. It supports intergenerational learning by engaging middle school and high school teachers alongside a team of highly capable students from the Sustainability Ambassadors Youth Leadership Program. The EfS Lab is an experiential agenda where daily work for lab partners includes: 

  • Envisioning 100% sustainability in our city in our lifetime. How do we get there? 

  • Integrate authentic STEM experiences and career choices.

  • Integrate the human story: geography, history, civics, economics, literacy

  • Facilitate systems thinking: water, energy, buildings, waste, transport, food…

  • Overlay climate solutions toward a clean energy economy.

  • Underlay environmental justice for an equitable society.

Questions?  Email us at info@sustainabilityambassadors.org

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Seattle, King County, Washington