My students are full of energy, excited to learn, and naturally inquisitive. They want to be engaged in the lessons instead of being passive learners.
With STEAM/STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) and Problem and Project-Based Learning (PBL), students are engaged and solving both real-life and fictional problems.
Students want to know what they do will matter and they are our future problem solvers.
My school has 1000 diverse students coming from different socioeconomic statuses in the largest school district in South Carolina.
The state of Florida is facing a crisis as the citrus disease has no known cure and has infected about 75 percent of Florida’s citrus crop, which is a $9-billion industry for the state. The disease is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, a winged insect no longer than a grain of rice. The nymphs feed on new shoots and leaves, removing sap from the plant and injecting a pathogen. This causes a yellowing of the plant, and death of the plant in 3-5 years after being infected. This insect has been found in at least 15 states.
My students will be using this real-world problem to learn about plant DNA, the effects of insecticides and pesticides, disease resistance plants, the importance of insects for a positive ecosystem, and how the citrus disease will affect the cost of fruits and juices and the loss of jobs.
In this STEM/STEAM problem-based learning project, my students will need an insect observation kit, various plants, and an environmental chamber to change the variables (temperature, light, humidity, etc) on plant growth. The students will learn how to extract DNA from oranges and learn how real-life scientists are trying to solve the citrus disease by using plants' DNA to find a common trait making certain plants disease resistant. In this project, the students will learn why certain insect can become pests for crops, but why insects are also important to have a positive healthy ecosystem. The students will use the insect kits to study the life cycle of insects, and how their span could affect plants and crops. My students will become real-life researchers and scientist as we email and Skype with scientist currently trying to solve this problem!
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