Project Based Learning

STEM Institute of Manhattan students will engage in units of study that incorporate various kinds of Project Based Learning experiences. We strive to create projects with cross-curricular connections that make use of multimedia and technology both to assist in information gathering as well as presentation. Here are some examples of PBL learning experiences that are part of a school-wide focus on the properties of matter:



Students create ABC books that show knowledge of letters and letter sounds through showcasing their understandings of the properties of objects. Students will use iPhoto to create a polished presentation. 


First Grade:

Students will create a museum exhibit for the New York Hall of Science that shows properties of matter are affected by the environment. Students will be able to collaborate with curators from community museums in developing their exhibit.


Second Grade:

Students will become geologists as they “travel” to a quarry site that has uncovered unknown rock and soil specimens. ­They will keep online field journals detailing their “discoveries” — the properties, identification, and purposes of their specimens.


Third Grade:

Students become agricultural engineers who are searching for a more efficient method of storing food supplies around the world. They will investigate, then design and build models of efficient shelters to house the grains for various world communities, keeping in mind specific circumstances (e.g., weathering, theft, insect infiltration, natural disasters), while demonstrating their knowledge of appropriate building materials and measurement tools.


Fourth Grade:

Students, acting as marine engineers, will design and build a boat for the King and Queen of Spain, who are funding an exploration of the New World. The ship must be unsinkable, capable of floating/sailing well in both fresh and salt waters, and be able to carry the largest number of passengers/cargo. Students will detail their experience via a blog which enables them to get advice from “engineers” around the world.


Fifth Grade:

Students act as geologists/filmmakers to create a Discovery Channel episode that explains and demonstrates one of the earth’s processes, such as landslides, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions, and how they shape the world around us. Students will analyze existing episodes, write scripts, design working demonstration models, shoot and edit footage as well as create advertising for their exciting and informational episode.