The Top 10 PBL & STEM Education News Articles of 2021

2021 has been another challenging year for educators, but through those challenges, inspiration, and dedication prevailed. Below are the top ten most inspiring and educational articles that were written on Project-Based Learning (PBL) and STEM education this year.  Topics range from PBL best practices to social-emotional learning, and equity in STEM education. 

These articles support Defined's mission of assisting students in developing the critical 21st-century skills they need to succeed in college, career, and life.       


Top STEM Education and PBL News Stories:   

New Research Makes a Powerful Case for PBL  

When Gil Leal took AP Environmental Science in his junior year of high school, he was surprised by how different it was from his other AP classes. Instead of spending the bulk of the time sitting through lectures, taking notes, and studying abstract texts, his class visited a strawberry farm. Read more


How Unconditional Positive Regard Can Help Students Feel Cared For 

KQED Mindshift 

As a teacher, I know how important it is to create clear expectations for my students and hold them to high standards. This also applies to me as I seek to build relationships with my students. The high standards I hold myself to in building teacher-student relationships come from my guiding philosophy: unconditional positive regard. This approach helps ground my equity-centered and trauma-informed work. Read More...


7 Questions that Guide the Work of Inspired Teachers 

Carol Ann Tomlinson

I’m near the ocean where the sky is bright blue and the water is placid, but I can’t help recalling how gray, mute, and turbulent the last 15 months have been.  While I spent most of that time wrestling with a book I began four years ago, the process was surprisingly more a gift than a burden. During the long isolation of the pandemic, the book gave me a reason to get out of bed, shake off the mulligrubs, and provoke my brain into gear.  Crucially, it gave me a reason to be hopeful for a better future at a time when the world was making me, like many others, skeptical of hoping. Read More...


STEM and Writing: Connecting All the Pieces 
Dr. Jacie Maslyk 

A class of fourth grade students are hunched over their desks writing feverishly about their recent experiment in the STEM lab. Within their science notebooks, you can see evidence of their learning; drawings of their catapult designs, labeling all the parts, and personal reflection about their design experience. Writing is a consistent part of their STEM learning. Some second graders are reviewing their notes from a recent nature walk around the school. A class of first graders are drafting a question detailing they’re “wonderings” about an upcoming science experiment. Read more…


PBL Works Project Based Learning Boosts Student Achievement in AP Courses

Lucas Education Research 

Rigorous project-based learning (PBL) benefits students in many ways, including by raising academic achievement. This research brief adds to the evidence base by highlighting the findings of a study showing the impact of project-based learning approaches on student outcomes in college-preparatory courses. Read More...


How Project-Based Learning Can Teach Empathy


It all started because of an email. In August 2020, I received a message from a parent in my seventh-grade humanities class, explaining that her husband was a genocide survivor; he had escaped the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and then lived in a Thai refugee camp before coming to California. I was intrigued, and like any good educator, I started asking questions. What I uncovered became the catalyst for a unique project-based learning (PBL) experience. Read More...


If Equity is a Priority, UDL is a Must 

Cult of Pedagogy 

When we design the same learning pathways for all learners, we might tell ourselves we are being fair, but in fact, single pathways are exclusionary.  Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of the critically acclaimed book, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race, challenges us to focus on impact over intentions. It may not be our intent to exclude our learners, but the reality is that many students do not have opportunities to learn at high levels or to access curriculum and instruction that is accessible, engaging, culturally sustaining, and linguistically appropriate. Read More...


Here's Why SEL Should be a Top Priority in Schools

eSchool News 

Covid brought with it countless challenges–but one thing it emphasized? The need for social-emotional learning (SEL) in each and every classroom. Students can’t learn unless they feel safe and secure. It is this state of well-being that greatly contributes to their academic achievement, personal growth, and health. SEL quickly skyrocketed from a “nice to have” classroom feature to something that districts prioritized and quickly moved to incorporate as classroom must-haves. Read More...


How Schools Should Prepare All Students for the Future of Work: The Big Equity Challenge


The disruption to the economy caused by COVID-19 is already reshaping the kinds of job opportunities and challenges today’s students will face when they enter the workforce. Those challenges will be especially big for students of color, those living in poverty, English language learners, and students with special needs. Read More...


Students Talk Social and Emotional Learning 


If you’re involved in education in any way, then you are acutely aware of how challenging the last few school years have been for our students. This is especially true for our youngest learners. While young children can quickly adapt to new situations and are astoundingly resilient, they are coping with a lot—both in and outside of school.  Read More...


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