Students Shine at 2013 PBL Cup

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PHMC hosted the third annual PBL Summer Cup on Tuesday, August 6th. Over 150 students from elementary and middle school Out-of-PBLCup2013WinnersSchool Time programs throughout Philadelphia came to Imhotep Institute Charter High School to present projects to a panel of judges, perform for one another, and compete for the PBL Cup.

Part science fair and part talent show, the PBL Summer Cup featured a variety of project topics. The winner of this year’s competition, the Catholic Social Services-DePaul School OST program, explored water evaporation through experimentation and measurement. They wowed the judges, including representatives from the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Franklin Institute, with their careful use of the scientific method.

Other winning projects gave OST students the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship and natural science. Students from Young Achievers Learning Center-Carnell opened their own business, the “Glam Girls,” selling jewelry and other fashion accessories they made themselves. The students created a budget, marketed their product, and reported a profit as part of their completed project.

StudentsMakeOoblekThis year’s PBL Summer Cup emphasized STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) topics. Representatives from the Drexel College of Engineering participated as judges, and gave additional awards to projects that integrated science content. The Education Works-Morton OST program, winner of the Drexel College of Engineering STEM award, studied ways to create a neighborhood that promoted public health, and created a scale model of the neighborhood. EW-Morton students were awarded gifts cards, and a guided tour of Drexel University.

Students at the PBL Summer Cup also participated in a number of activity stations. Students made, and experimented with, Oobleck. A simple substance, made by combining corn starch and water, Oobleck shares some of the properties of both a liquid and a solid (it is classified as a non-Newtonian fluid). Additionally, students learned and applied basic principles of engineering and physics by constructing aluminum foil boats, and testing their seaworthiness with weight. Students from the Zhang Sah OST program constructed a boat that held nearly 600 paper clips before sinking!

The projects presented at the 2013 PBL Summer Cup showcased not only STEM content, but also 21st Century Skills like critical thinking and communication. One of this year’s judges, Amanda Atkinson of the Southeast Regional Key (SERK), applauded the public speaking skills demonstrated by students. “The students were poised and professional when answering our questions,” she said. “It was great to see how enthusiastic they all were to share their work.”

More pictures of the event will soon be available online. And preparations are already underway for next year’s event!

by: Jason Schwalm

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