Problem-Based Learning in science

Problem-based learning scenarios used at the University of Leicester on an Integrated Science course include building the pyramids of Egypt (and using them for astronomy), mock court cases, film productions, and preparations for the 2012 London Olympics. These are used to teach subjects such as space science, nanotechnology, biomechanics, and quantum teleportation says Derek Raine of the University of Leicester’s Physics Department in an article ‘Much of What We Were Doing Didn’t Work‘ in the journal Science (6 July 2007:Vol. 317. no. 5834, p. 68).

“Working in teams, students are given a real-world problem to research, solve, and then explicate to the class. One exercise casts students as the crew of a cargo plane that has crashed on a desert island and asks them to construct some sort of beacon to communicate their position.”

It is a shame that the reason behind the change is the desperate attempt to recruit more students to the physical sciences, but a good thing that innovative approaches like Prof Raine’s are now given free rein. (sorry about the pun…)