PjBL promotes content learning and skills development because it focuses on the exchange of ideas and provides motivation for students to seek content knowledge that helps them solve a problem or address a challenge.
There is a large amount of research extolling the benefits of curricula and learning experiences rooted in PjBL. These studies have found that PjBL promotes more active learning of content, the development of problem-solving skills, increased ownership of learning, greater understanding of the nature of science, more flexible thinking, improved collaboration skills, and opportunities for students to become STEM “experts”. These advantages are also consistent with the science learning goals promoted in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (Framework/NRC 2012).
SLIDER uses engineering design scenarios as the context for its PjBL challenges. Engineering design scenarios provide students not only interesting contexts for learning; they also embody the content and skill knowledge of the Next Generation Science Standards. Engineering challenges enable teachers to teach content in engaging ways and provide students with opportunities to innovate, create original solutions and experience what engineers actually do. Perhaps for the first time they come to see science, technology, and mathematics as something that exists beyond the classroom, as fields that can be integrated together to create a final product, and as areas that they may pursue further in school or as a career.