There's a push in the United States to get more people interested in math and science in order to have leaders in these areas for the 21st-century. So I find it confusing that when I talk to some people about doing project based learning (PBL) in math there is a lot of equivocating. This seems especially true in high school mathematics courses where the content is often disconnected from what people really do on a daily basis. But if we want people to become mathematicians, why can't the project be related to the work that they do?
A Partial PBL Project Outline
(thanks to Mike Kaechele)
- Topic: Doing Mathematics
- Standards: CCSS High School: Algebra >> Arithmetic with Polynomials and Rational Expressions (this comes up as being too abstract for projects)
- Driving Question: What do mathematicians do?
- Final Product: Presentation demonstrating their ability to engage in doing math (e.g.: making connections, extending ideas, ...)
- Authentic Audience: Mathematicians
Granted, there is a lot that I don't know about PBL (though it seems a lot like the outcomes-based projects I did in the 1990s) and this particular project is in need of much more detail, but I want to gather more information about the process. Also, I didn't want to set up a bunch of straw-man arguments about PBL in math just to prove a point. I really do want to know whether doing math would be an acceptable PBL project.