World peace…in the 4th grade

The video and the summary below shows just how far students can reach in their learning if just given the opportunity to not have to go by the book. Want to learn more when you’re finished with this post? Go to the World Peace Game site.

Summary form the YouTube page:


World Peace…and other 4th-grade achievements interweaves the story of John Hunter, a teacher in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his students’ participation in an exercise called the World Peace Game. The game triggers an eight-week transformation of the children from students of a neighborhood public school to citizens of the world. The film reveals how a wise, loving teacher can unleash students’ full potential.
The film traces how Hunter’s unique teaching career emerges from his own diverse background. An African-American educated in the segregated schools of rural Virginia, where his mother was his 4th grade teacher, he was selected by his community to be one of seven students to integrate a previously all-white middle school. After graduation, he traveled extensively to China, Japan, and India, and his exposure to the Ghandian principles of non-violence led him to ask what he could do as a teacher to work toward a more peaceful world.
Hunter teaches the concept of peace not as a utopian dream but as an attainable goal to strive for, and he provides his students with the tools for this effort. The children learn to collaborate and communicate with each other as they work to resolve the Game’s conflicts. They learn how to compromise while accommodating different perspectives and interests. Most importantly, the students discover that they share a deep and abiding interest in taking care of each other. World Peace….and other 4th-grade achievements will inspire others by documenting the unheralded work of a true peacemaker.


The World Peace Game is a hands-on political simulation that gives players the opportunity to explore the connectedness of the global community through the lens of the economic, social, and environmental crises and the imminent threat of war. The goal of the game is to extricate each country from dangerous circumstances and achieve global prosperity with the least amount of military intervention. As “nation teams,” students will gain greater understanding of the critical impact of information and how it is used.
As their teams venture further into this interactive social setting laced with highly charged philosophical issues, the skills needed to identify ambiguity and bias in the information they receive will be enhanced and more specifically they will rapidly perceive that reactive behavior not only provokes antagonism, it can leave them alone and isolated in the face of powerful enemies. Beliefs and values will evolve or completely unravel as they begin to experience the positive impact and windows of opportunity that emerge through effective collaboration and refined communication.
In essence, as meaning is constructed out of chaos and new creative solutions are proposed, the World Peace Game players will learn to live and work comfortably at the frontiers of the unknown.

Learn more directly directly from John Hunter about why he does what he does:

Additional Links:

World Peace Game Site
Extended Trailer
John Hunter explains the World Peace Games

Video as an Entry Event

One of the key things you can do as the classroom facilitator in a PBL environment is utilize great Entry Events to get the kids excited about the upcoming project. This can be something you find already created, or you can have a little fun making your own. Using a waterproof camera, iMovie’s Movie Trailer template, and a little weekend fun time, my son and I created this video short for an Outdoor/Wilderness Survival unit for his fifth grade class.



Connecting PBL and STEM… 40 Free Engaging Resources To Use In The Classroom by Michael Gorman

This is only archived here and not just linked due to it being a very valuable resource and not wanting to lose it if the webpage goes away. A big thank you to Mike Gorman for his work on this. If you want to talk to Mike about any of these projects or other PBL topics, just let me know. He is happy to email or Skype with you.

Welcome to one of my most resource-filled posts ever!  One that is dedicated to highlighting some amazing free resources that will help support STEM-based PBL in the classroom .  Before introducing this goldmine of resources… I want to  thank you for continuing to return and for continuing to sharing my blog 21centuryedtech with others. If you haven’t subscribed, please visit 21centuryedtech and subscribe by RSS or Email. You will be guaranteed future posts by subscribing by either RSS or email. I also invite you to follow me on Twitter at mjgormans. I really do enjoy  networking with all of you! Now… on to  that goldmine I promised you. Have a great week!

Entire PBL 

The sites below are considered to be great resources that provide ideas or blueprints for an entire PBL project. Included in most plans are project titles, content addressed, 21st century skills, driving questions, products, procedures, and evaluation. The resources in this collection tend to focus on the entire PBL process. – The people at the BUCK  Institute For Education have a great area where you can search for activities and projects already made. Note how many projects include both math and science. Want an extra bonus? Include the arts and make STEAM!

Teach 21 – The educators in the state of West Virginia at Global 21 have provided this amazing PBL site. Just pick a grade level and subject area. You will find projects that encompass the STEM areas.

Learning Reviews – The PBL portion of this site provides some outstanding links to web resources that cover science, math, engineering and technology. You will find grade levels along with the number of resources supplied.

Real Wold Math PBL – Small selection of projects based on math skills.

Math Matter Geometry – Selection of 10 Geometry projects developed in Indiana and hosted by Indiana University.

Math Matter Algebra 1 – Selection of about 20 Algebra 1 Projects from Math Matters at Indiana University designed for middle school.

Math Matters Algebra 2 – Selection of over 20 Algebra 2 Projects from Math Matters at Indiana University designed for high school.

iEarn – Projects based on contemporary issues with an emphasis towards collaboration beyond your district, state, and of high schools.

High Tech High School – Seven projects that have been successful at this PBL based school.

National Service Learning Clearing House – Hundreds of ideas. While not all may be PBL… they could sure be remixed to have all the components!

Exemplary Projects – While there are not a lot of projects… there are some cool ideas.

Foundation Components  PBL 

The following sites could be used as a foundation to build a PBL unit. Perhaps you’ll just want to use a portion of the site for a product, lesson, lecture, video, simulation, or activity in a new or existing PBL unit. While many focus on competition… remember that you do not have to compete., although it could be fun. Look at it as a giant smorgasbord of resources ready to be served up in building a STEM based PBL unit.

Siemens We Can Change The World Challenge – Great site loaded with resources, standards, and ideas. Either compete or just use the resources that are provided. Applicable to all levels of K-12 education.

Kids Science Challenge – Awesome and inspiring challenges involving bio-designed scientific inventions, sports on Mars, and detective science. Be sure to check out the great podcasts listed in Pulse of the Planet.

Young Scientists Challenge – Great resource for students in  K-8. Lessons, multi-media, and other materials that can be incorporated into PBL units.

National Engineer Week: Future City – Great Project Based Learning Activity incorporating STEAM along with Language Arts and Social Studies. Engage students with Sim City Software, model building, and a new curriculum designed to integrate disciplines.

The Jason Project – Wow, what an awesome set of free digital curricula filled with multi-media, simulations, readings, class activities, and projects! Check out that roller coaster simulation just to name one!

Siemens Discovery STEM Academy – Vast amount of lessons, multimedia and activities, along with webinars, that are some of the finest for both student learning and teacher professional development.

eGFI Dream Up The Future – A huge database that will engage students with its colorful and student centered interface. Make sure to check all the links, including all the STEM resources found in the Teacher Resource area.

NSF Resources For STEM Education – A great collection of teacher resources, instructional materials, assessment, and up-to-date research regarding STEM.

PBS STEM Education Resources Center – Great information from PBS including engaging lessons, activities, and of course those award winning PBS videos.

NSDL – The National Science Digital Library has some outstanding resource that include numerous links to some great STEM programs and organizations.

Design Squad Nation – Another great service from PBS filled with some entertaining and engaging ways to integrate STEM into any classroom.

Museum of Science – Great database to search for lessons and ideas involving science, math, engineering from one of the finest science museums located in Boston.

Discover Engineering – Let your students discover engineering in some very exciting and engaging ways. From skateboards to roller coasters the activities and videos will bring you back for more.

ACSEville – The civil engineers at ASCEville have some amazing simulations, games, and adventures for your students. Have you ever built a gum drop dome or a paper bridge? Check it out… you may not want to leave!

Google Science Fair – How about a virtual science fair that can go beyond your classroom, district, state, and even nation? This is an event that will turn on the 21st century skills and the new common core!

KhanAcademy – Ready to flip the STEM classroom? Then check out these thousands of videos from Khan! Every area of Science and Math can be explored in short informative video clips. Either do a total flip or just reinforce skills in a short student controlled lesson.

TeachersDomain – Want to continue doing a flip? Then visit this site from WGBH, a PBS station in Boston. You will find videos, activities, and simulations! Best of all, you can archive it in your own classroom at the Teachers Domain Site.

PBS Teachers – Brand new site filled with lots of resources and videos. Search by grade level and curriculum area. Teachers can create an online classroom filled with outstanding and engaging material.

Wolframalpha – Not your typical search engine. This is a computational search engine that is a plus for any STEM educator. It is easy to use and its ability to find data is just plain fun!

Ciese– Dedicated to improving K-16 STEM education through the meaningful and effective integration of technology, CIESE fosters the use of research-based instructional methodologies and technologies to improve and pioneer novel technologies to explore and better understand their impact on improved education and society.

My Science Box– At My Science Box you’ll find complete, scaffolded lesson plans to teach a 4-6 week middle school science unit through activities, projects, and field trips.

Cases Online – A collection of inquiry-based lessons to engage exploring the science behind real-world problems. Promotes self-directed and life-long learners, critical thinkers and keen problem solvers. Cases are grounded in Problem-Based Learning (PBL), Investigative Case-Based Learning (ICBL),

Physics Online – Check out the projects link for some ideas that just might start a project.

Molecules Matters – provides PBL instruction and support for students and teachers with an emphasis on nanotechnology.

Software for STEM based PBL

How about free software to promote STEM in the classroom? Along with multimedia programs such as Movie Maker and iMovie… the programs listed below will facilitate students in their 21st century skill development. Since they are free, students can use them at school and download them to also connect at home.

SketchUp – A great CAD style product from the people at Google. I like to call it “CAD that’s fun!” Explore a world of educational resources that will engage students in the classroom allowing them to innovate and create!

West Point Bridge Project – Whether it be math, science, or engineering… students will enjoy this free program from the West Point Academy. Watch students compete in collaborative groups as they learn valuable content and understand the world of math and science through simulations and modeling.

Scratch – Wow… computational thinking at its best. A program that allows student to design a computer program with integration into any subject area. Learn more by watching my archived webinar at Discovery!

Google Earth – Another free and amazing program that will excite your students in any STEM class. Make sure you visit this educator page filled with resources on how to use Google Earth in the classroom.

Well, there you have it… a goldmine that will keep you mining resources for a long time  Please continue to join me as I discuss other ways you can promote 21st century technology and learning in the classroom. But that’s not all… future posts will also contain resources on Digital Curriculum,  evaluating web resources, Project Based Learning, STEM, Web 2.0, and so much more on 21st Century Learning.  Also, please visit my Blog at 21centuryedtech and subscribe up by RSS or email! Your subscription means a lot to me and I thank you in advance. You can also give this article a retweet.!  It’s a great way to spread the word and I appreciate your support. Remember to follow me on Twitter at mjgormans. Thanks, and until next time at Tech&Learning and 21centuryedtech… I am certain you will want to branch out with some STEM based PBL in the classroom  Have a great week! – Mike Gorman

Rube Goldberg as a Component in Science, Math, and Critical Thinking

If you’ve never done Rube Goldberg projects with your students, I can tell you from personal experience that it is challenging from both the student and the teacher perspective. But, I can tell you that there is nothing more rewarding than watching the final “machine” be a success and the students’ faces beaming with pride. The machine below is a much larger than a normal class might undertake, but it is a great example of the critical thinking that went on throughout the entire design process. Enjoy.