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by Alfred Solis
Director of Special Projects

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Topic tags: why PBL, what is PBL, school reform, how to do PBL


November 17, 2010
Is it another “aha” moment for education?

by Alfred Solis
Director of Special Projects

A bit of background before the video.  Back in 2004, I was invited by the Texas High School Project to do a Project Based Learning workshop at a conference in Dallas.  It was an amazing event where over 600 participants ranging from politicians to parents discussed the future of education in Texas.  The keynote was Uri Treisman who was discussing how to properly compare mathematics education in the U.S. with other countries.

I didn't know who he was, but he reminded me of someone.  When I introduced myself to him, I said, "Hello I'm from High Tech High--".  He quickly pointed at me and said, "Larry Rosenstock", who was exactly the person he reminded me of.  They grew up in the same neighborhood.  Amazing.  He was in a hurry to catch a plane, but asked me to give Larry a hug for him.

Upon my return to HTH, I gave Larry his hug and told him about meeting Uri.  Larry told me that Uri won the MacArthur Fellowship Award for his pioneering work in increasing minority participation in college mathematics back in 1980.  Uri basically created study groups for minority students who usually studied alone.  It was so successful that in 1986 20 other campuses across the country set up local adaptations of the project.

The "aha" moment was to form study groups!  Was it genius?  Of course.  In its simplicity and its effectiveness.  But this is an "aha" moment that seems so obvious today because of how common study groups are.  Thanks to Uri!

Now for the video...

2010 MacArthur Fellow, Abo-Shaeer began his professional career as a mechanical engineer before moving into education in 2001. He teaches physics and engineering at Dos Pueblos High School, in Goleta, Calif., and develops courses focused on project-based learning, including a robotics class. In 2002, he started the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, a specialized program at the high school with a rigorous applied science curriculum that integrates physics, engineering, and math courses, and he continues to direct the academy.
Science Teacher Wins 'Genius Grant' From MacArthur, Ed Week

I hope Abo-Shaeer's use of Project Based Learning is another "aha" moment for education that hopefully follows the same path of Uri's study groups.  PBL is only obvious to a minority of people now, but someday could be in the majority of classrooms.


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