This webpage provides a few targeted techniques for community project based learning at the university level. Examples are provided from chemistry courses at CSU Channel Islands: Chem 100, 101 and 344. The project topics include sustainability projects and CI student designed science experiments for K-8th grade.
“Isn't this the purpose of education, to learn the nature of your own gifts and how to use them for good in the world?” ― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
Expected Final Products: Science Experiment Project
- Perform experiment
- Educational Creatives
- Lesson plan
- 5-10 min video with science and society graphics
- Experiments performed by K-8th graders – 522 students
- Projects showcased at annual Science Carnival - 5191 attendees.
- Experiment materials made available on an online website
Example CSUCI Student Created Video on Adobe Spark
Example Student Graphic Created on Adobe Post
Cultivate Intrinsic Motivation: "The Why" Beyond the Grade
- How is the course material important to your students and their lives?
- How can you connect your material to the local or scientific community?
Average hours spent per week outside of class: 4-6 hours
"My favorite part of this class was creating a science lesson plan and video for the elementary students to participate in. Many young students throughout this pandemic have not been able to do many fun activities at home and I was very happy that my classmates and I were able to provide a fun learning environment in the safety of the students’ homes." - Erika Valencia
"In truth my favorite aspect of this class was actually having the opportunity to share with the community ways to express the knowledge displayed to us from energy and society. I believe that if we can influence the younger generations about the field of STEM, we can help guide them about how to make the world a better place." - Jason Mesa
Cultivate Intrinsic Motivation: Passion For More than a Grade
Allow Student Choice
1. Create approved topics that match your course and stakeholder needs.
- Food chemistry
- Air pollution
2. Project Sign Ups
- Student editable Google Doc
- Provide approved topics
- Students find and choose projects
3. Alternatively: students or groups submit project ideas
- Project management assignment
- Peer responsibility agreements
- Communication agreements
- Survey stakeholders
"Dr. Khan, can I turn my assignment in tomorrow? I do not feel like it is good enough to be presented to the kids and I want to make it a little better." - Chem 100 student
"The lessons were excellent due to the great lesson plans, materials list, having the supplies you ordered ready to go and the outstanding videos! Thank you so much for these resources." - Jo Anna Mendoza, 4th Grade Teacher
"This collaboration between 2nd grade at Rio Del Sol and the university students from CSUCI was a beaming light during this pandemic! As we navigated the river this year, these projects provided the 'engine' we needed to swim upstream - to overcome the current ... Teacher dreams really do come true!" - Rickey Koga, 2nd Grade Teacher
Who can you collaborate with?
- Facilities (engineers, architects, groundskeepers, etc.)
- Academic Affairs (Provost’s office)
- Student Affairs
- Interdepartmental faculty and staff (ESRM, Communications, Biology, Health and Wellness, etc.)
- Outside companies (Restaurants, Tech. companies, EJ Harrison, etc.)
- Infrastructure (water treatment)
- Government or political entities
- Local schools
- Empowers students to teach each other.
- Accountable for quality work posted on a public place.
- Student's learn from each other and the quality increases.
- Strengthens the bonds and community between peers.
Tip: Provide a clear rubric for your expectations and scoring system. Rubric example:
- 2 points for posting your own URL
- 2 point for providing comments on your own work.
- For each star or wish (6 points total):
- Full credit: 1 point per each thoughtful and respectful star or wish.
- Partial credit: 0.5 points if the star or wish is not constructive or useful (e.g. good job). Or, you are missing your own posting here.
- No credit: 0 points for no star or wish. 0 points if the comment is rude or inappropriate.
Future Implications & Conclusions
- Multicontexted learning, communal work and nonlinear learning can increase success, participation and diversity in STEM (Weismman et al., 2019).
- Increase equity and sustainability within the community.
- Inspire teachers, students and community members in STEM subjects.
- CI students will have gained insight on how the knowledge gained from their science class can be used as a tool to improve the community.