Project-based learning through the implementation of solar cooking for sustainable development

Abstract. In this article, looks at the teaching methods of a grade 12 project-based learning (PBL) physics course in solar energy as a part of a sustainable development (SD) curriculum. It was shown that discussions about solar cooking and natural resources projects put many important ideas into students’ heads indicating an effective improvement of PBL and education for SD in schools.

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JOURNAL OF SCIENCE OF HNUE Interdisciplinary Science, 2014, Vol. 59, No. 5, pp. 77-84 This paper is available online at PROJECT-BASED LEARNING THROUGH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SOLAR COOKING FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Tuong Duy Hai1, Do Huong Tra2 and Jacques Ginestie1 1EA 4671 ADEF, Aix-Marseille Université, France 2Faculty of Physics, Hanoi National University of Education Abstract. In this article, looks at the teaching methods of a grade 12 project-based learning (PBL) physics course in solar energy as a part of a sustainable development (SD) curriculum. It was shown that discussions about solar cooking and natural resources projects put many important ideas into students’ heads indicating an effective improvement of PBL and education for SD in schools. Keywords: PBL, solar cooking, sustainable development, learning activities. 1. Introduction Knowledge, skill and attitude are basic components of ability that a student should strengthen and practice in order to connect learning to practical events in real life and help students obtain employment and be more productive members of society [1]. Knowledge is built from teaching curriculums; skills are developed, strengthened and cultivated from learning activities; and attitude is fundamental for a student to make use of the first two components when dealing with a problem which they may face in real life. Instilling a proper attitude in students is a principal target of education for SD a growing practice in global education and an exciting manner of teaching with practical subjects related to environmental protection and pollution minimization, encouraging students to act as a team, tying school activities with daily life, fostering interaction among students and building ideas about a more sustainable future. 2. Content 2.1. Experimental process description PBL includes the teaching method, student action and way of learning, performance progress, time and duration, teaching facilities and subject composition. To carry out this Received December 25, 2013. Accepted May 30, 2014. Contact Do Huong Tra, e-mail address: 77 Tuong Duy Hai, Do Huong Tra and Jacques Ginestie research, it is necessary to discover how students learn and, on the basis of this data, determine a teaching process suitable for the existing conditions in the schools. With this in mind, we looked at the process of teaching the subject of solar energy as a part of the high school Physics curriculum within framework of education for SD in order to learn how students study in such a teaching framework [2]. This PBL project started by showing edited films about solar energy and practical ways of making use of solar energy and combining this with a VTV the solar cookers project in Da Nang city as reported on VTV1. Class discussions then took place with a teachers acting as observers. Discussions took place about solar cookers and potential for solar cooking in the local community [3]. The student groups were then given the task of designing and making a solar cooker. Three weeks later a project presentation and report was held and both teachers and students assessed their learning progress and project products. This project is to be used by Physics teachers to create an objective, true database for future analysis. The entire project process was video and audio recorded, entered into project logbooks, and interviews were done at the end of the project. The project involved 109 12th grade students in three schools: Đội Cấn, Đại Cường and Thanh Oai B (DOC, DAC and TOB). The experiment took place in September, 2012. 2.2. Analysis of results Table 1. List of materials used by the project groups Group DOC1 DOC3 DOC4 TOB1 TOB2 TOB3 DAC1 DAC2 DAC3 DAC5 Carton X X X X X X X X X Wood frame X X X Sheet metal X X Soft box X X X X Glass X X X X X X X Plastic board X X Rice husk X X Silver paper X X X X X X X X Mirror X Steel wire X X Iron bar X X Wood bar X X Wastepaper X Bamboo frame X Beer can X X Black paint X X X Newspaper X 78 Project-based learning through the implementation of solar cooking for... Resulting from this project was 10 solar cookers that could sterilize foodstuffs using the Pasteur method [4] on sunny days with a temperature of between 60◦C and 78◦C. After analyzing the products, documents and video and audio data, ways to improve implementation of the project could be ascertained and will influence our suggestions to improve PBL in education for SD in school. a. Materials used by students to make a solar cooker Type of materials to be used were discussed by the students with their concern being to make use of available materials such as cartons, fruit containers, instant noodle boxes and easy-to-find materials like glass, chopsticks, bamboo, wood and sheet metal, flower wrapping, glue, candles, 502 glue and clear plastic which meet the criteria of cheap„ easy to obtain and easy to work with. For the most part they made use of household waste products such as rice husk, beer cans, newspaper and wastepaper. The students’ biggest concern regarding materials to make a solar cooker was cost, and this was because they themselves bore the cost. For this reason their final products were made very cheaply, at more than VND 10,000 VND but less than VND 100,000. Such prices are acceptable for a group of 3-5 students who share those expenses. Cartoon, silver paper and glass were the most commonly used. Silver paper was replaced by some with glass plate or beer cans that were flattened to make a reflection plane. Some replaced the glass with transparent plastic when attempting to create a greenhouse effect. The cartoon could be replaced with a wood frame, bamboo frame, or sheet-metal frame with wastepaper, rice husk inside or air space serving as thermal insulation. Students considered using materials that were environmentally friendly. b. Time and place of group discussion and product fabrication Students were given three months to complete the project. This was quite a long time for a group of three to five 12th grade students to plan and make a solar cooker but during this time they were busy with their other subjects and chores. Some students were enrolled in private lessons elsewhere and the group members were away from school at different times which did affect progress and the quality of the final project. The group arranged to meet on Sunday, in the evening or at times there were no classes. Evening meetings were rare because their homes are very far apart. They had to make use of their free time to organize their individual activities with the project. Each person sought materials and kept it at home. They met at home of their team leader or a member that lived near their school when making their product. Table 2. Place of team meeting Place DOC1 DOC3 DOC4 TOB1 TOB2 TOB3 DAC1 DAC2 DAC3 DAC5 Home X X X X X X X School X X X X X X X c. Mobilize supports for the project Students asked many people for assistance in getting information and making their 79 Tuong Duy Hai, Do Huong Tra and Jacques Ginestie product. The data shows that the Physics teacher was the greatest help to the students, followed by workers who help them to finish the most difficult parts of their product by doing things such as cutting the glass and assembling the wood or sheet-metal frame. Generally their relatives helped them put together a bamboo frame. Cell phones were very useful to the students as they sought information. Via a cell phone Internet connection, they could find images of solar cookers and try to copy one of them. Table 3. Who the students ask for help to perform their project Student helpers DOC1 DOC3 DOC4 TOB1 TOB2 TOB3 DAC1 DAC2 DAC3 DAC5 Physics teacher X X X X X X Relatives X Professional worker X X X The table above shows that the project involved teachers, parents, relatives and skilled workers. d. Student activities within a group Each student was involved in various activities in the course of the project. There was always one student who was the leader and bore the main responsibility for the product. The leader had to link the various group members, organize group meetings, allocate duties and attempt to speed up the work of each member. When their product was defective or unfinished, they had to improve or complete it. The leader played a key role in the project presentation and answered the project-related questions for his group. Table 4. Roles of group members Group has DOC1 DOC3 DOC4 TOB1 TOB2 TOB3 DAC1 DAC2 DAC3 DAC5 one member with the most contributions X X X X X X X X every member with the same contributions X X e. Student knowledge in the discussion In the discussions, students freely expressed their ideas and opinions. Behind the students’ ideas and opinions, we found the students to be most knowledgeable in the areas of economy, sociology and the environment; their Physics-related knowledge, (energy, science and technology) was minimal. Most of the students took an interest in the environmental aspect of the solar cooker, followed by cost savings and the health of the cooker users. Hence, SD education is occurring when the students mention backbone 80 Project-based learning through the implementation of solar cooking for... of this education method rather than knowledge from the curriculums they learn in the school. f. The attitude of the students Diagram 1. Fields of knowledge to be applied by the students in their discussion about solar cooker By observing the students during their discussions and analyzing the study sheets and project documents, we found that some students did not take the project seriously, could not focus on this area of study and indeed even disregarded the study. When presenting the final project outcome, students sometimes answered a question by drawing irrelevant pictures, and recorded project documentation differed from the actual performance of the students. During the interview, we discovered that students filled in their documents before or after the project implementation and did not update them regularly. Figure 1. Picture of students When rapid-fire or difficult questions were asked of the students, they seemed to answer perfunctorily in order to avoid actually answering the questions. For this reason many of their answers were illogical and inconsistent. Diagram 2. Students joke around and don’t concentrate on learning 81 Tuong Duy Hai, Do Huong Tra and Jacques Ginestie When carrying out the project, the students were interested only in the hands-on activity in the project, and not project documentation project organization, understanding the nature of the product that they are to make or understanding the operating mechanism of the product. Among other inadequacies, the students lacked teamwork and collective skills. g. Way of suggesting an idea in the discussion Before a discussion took place, we gave the students study sheets and asked them to write what they thought about the project. Comparing what the students wrote with what they said the results were similar despite a little difference in quantity and content as per the student’s level, gender and school. Ideas and opinions of the students from project schools are characterized by: - The first student to speak reads from his study sheet but does address a number of ideas; - The second student to speak also read his study sheet but omitted any ideas that were similar to the first student’s; he gave only information that differed from that of the first student; - The third student to speak and those following usually spoke of something that is less similar to the previous students but which is ideas inherited from the prior students and less related to what they had prepared on their study sheet; - Sometimes the students addressed just one or two ideas, followed by a burst of ideas; - The last speaker is always spoke least and closed the discussion. Despite a difference in student level, gender and school, there was little difference in the number and content of their ideas. Discussions tended to hide the difference between the good and the poor students, enabling the students to feel that they are on an equal level. Diagram 3. Structure of ideas which are addressed by the students in the discussion Each moss-green dot symbolizes an idea to be addressed by a student, each row refers to a student’s speech and each column indicates a discussion. It can be seen that apart from column 4, the last speaker usually presents one idea. It is seen that teachers and experts who want to deepen the discussion process 82 Project-based learning through the implementation of solar cooking for... should make suggestions or provide documentation at the knot time to enrich the discussion. If this is not done, the discussion may remain at a standstill as they run out of ideas. h. Product making by the students After looking at the products and interviewing the students, we compared each group’s products from the same school, different schools and within the sample. It was seen that the student’s copy from each other or copy the sample provided. For example, they made a concave inside the cooker, paint the exterior black, covered the body of the cooker with newspaper for thermal insulation, punched a hole in the glass plate and perhaps improved the mirror rotating system. This shows that the students had no knowledge of the products they made. A solar cooker that is painted black will not work. They should paint the pot that is put into the cooker so that it absorbs as much heat as possible. To get the greenhouse effect, a closed glass cage must be made to reduce thermal energy and heat the pot in the solar cooker, however, the students punched a hole in the center of the glass plate which allows dissipation of the heat into the environment and reduces the effectiveness of the cooker. The students improved the mirror rotating system by appending many large and long reflecting plates on the cooker wall but these plates prevented the sunlight from reaching the cooker. Sadly, their unquestioning imitation and haphazard improvement had an adverse effect and reduced the effectiveness of the study itself. Figure 2. Several improvements on the student group’s products It is possible that if that these students were to work with experts and if they had scientific documents related to the project product provided to them, they might tend to copy less and they might get creative because they might then thoroughly understand the operational principles of their products. 3. Conclusion Education of the students is according to school timetable, private tuition and project budget. Project outcomes have no impact on the study results of the students, hence the unserious attitude of the students. The students enjoy making the product but discount organizing for effective study. They attach too much importance to the appearance of the 83 Tuong Duy Hai, Do Huong Tra and Jacques Ginestie product rather than coming to understand the operational principles in order to improve their products. The students took the simplest path which is to copy without significant creativity. The proposed learning process meets the requirements on education for SD in that it made film clips on solar energy and cookers for the students. Their understanding of solar cookers and how they can help meet economic, social and environmental needs have changed for the better. REFERENCES [1] UNESCO, 2009. Report of Education for Sustainable Development. Conference, Boon City, Federal Republic of Germany. [2] Tuong Duy Hai and Do Huong Tra, 2010. Education for sustainable development through project-based learning by integrating solar cooker research projects into Physics curriculum. Education Magazine, no. 241. [3] Tuong Duy Hai, Jacques Ginestié, Do Huong Tra, 2012. Quelques éléments de réflexion sur des stratégies de projet d’élèves vietnamiens dans le cadre d’une éducation au développement durable. JIES International Conference, Chamonix, Republic of France. [4] Chillet, 2012. La pasteurisation, in Opérations unitaires en génie biologique. Scérén. 84
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