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Friday, December 01, 2017

Innovative School: Project-based learning at the American College of Sofia | The Sofia Globe

"No more dead parrot-fashion learning. No more rote learning by passive pupils. Let us enter the age of Project Based Learning – and see why the American College of Sofia officially has been given the title of an “Innovative School”"according to The Sofia Globe staff.

Photo: The Sofia Globe staff

The American College of Sofia follows project based learning, an effective, dynamic and enjoyable way for pupils to acquire and retain the knowledge they need.

It’s an approach based on the idea that students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems. Let’s translate that into English, or shall we say, science.

Today we are visiting three classes at the American College of Sofia’s science department, the grade 11 and 12 chemistry and physics profiles.

In the well-equipped physics lab, science department head Krasimira Chakarova and her colleague Vanya Angelova are interacting with pupils who are working in separate teams to go through a stage of experiments they are conducting.

The pupils were given their tasks the previous week, and before beginning the practical stage, had to come up with three theoretical sources on which to base their experiments.

Here, a laser is being used in an experiment involving condensation; there, a meniscus optika and at another table, a team is seeking to establish why it is that clothes go dark when they’re wet.

That’s the thing about project based learning, PBL to initiates. Pupils are learning to use the scientific method to answer a research question, and in the process, also improve their communication skills by writing a scientific article, giving an oral presentation and engaging in debate to defend their findings.

In the case of these science experiments, they have learnt to use the devices, carry out observations, and must keep a journal to record all of these observations, which will be submitted to the teacher for discussion and feedback.

This process, of which today’s session is part, began around the start of the second week of November and will continue to third week of January, with a final research paper submitted and then the engagement, in the presentation, with opponents and reviewers.

This would be a good place, by the way, to mention that they rather seem to be enjoying themselves.

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