Current Events Are GREAT to Drive Tasty PBL Units

Current Events Are GREAT to Drive Tasty PBL Units

Friends, China is considering launching another moon into the sky above their cities.

Yep. I am going to say that again: Launch. Another. Moon. You read it right!

Imagine that…

I’m sure your mind is swirling, as mine was, when I read this post from Time, explaining how it will help them light up streets of cities.

“How in the world…” starts most of the questions that my brain keeps sending me, as I picture not only the launch procedure, but also the function, and the results on the city!

Oh, the city.

And then I think of the countryside.
The animals.
The trees.
The tides.

And I remember back to my 6th grade self, planting zinnias in a discarded tire that was situated under the old farm light at our house in deeply-rural Missouri. You know those bright lights that dot the night time rural landscape, right? And I remember how those poor flowers NEVER got any darkness and how tall and straggly they looked, begging for rest from the unrelenting light of day and night. I remember what my lessons in biology classes taught me about photo-periods (how much light/dark plants need) and photosynthesis. Ok, I’ll be truthful…I learned most of my botany lessons, and about photo-periods in particular, from my dad, the weed-grower.

But I digress.

A second moon? For real? I mean, I’ve been to China (Shenzhen). I’ve got many friends who have lived in Shanghai and Beijing. It’s not like it’s very dark there in the major cities anyway.

You have to read this story. The article is shorter than this blog post.

Turns out, they are thinking of putting up “smaller” versions of the moon that would catch the sunlight of the already-set sun to light up the streets. They’re looking to save electricity and money.

Now I have an entirely different set of questions swirling, as I’m sure you do too!

Ok, at first, this seems RIDICULOUS. (Am I the only one here?)

But maybe it has merits…even with the cities in China having crazy pollution-clogged skies.

I wonder how animals’ instinctual behaviors will respond.

And because I’m a teacher, I begin to think about the PBL opportunities and how this short Time news article can be used as a great hook to a PBL opportunity. It would drive a need to know about animals’ nocturnal behaviors. The need for a dark photo-period for plants.

And, based on our findings regarding both, would we support these efforts in our own country? Our own towns?

Of course reading/writing is all over this. Read the article. Look up info about the moon and the need for night lighting in large cities. There’s all sorts of good stuff to read. Write out a proposal about whether we should do this (or not) and why. Present your findings to a local someone who cares.

But what science and math opportunities would there be? We might measure lumens to figure out what would be “acceptable levels” if one was to be launched in our community. And since it is relying on sun reflection, how big would it need to be? Or maybe, how small would it be? How high up would it need to be to catch sunlight during night time? How could/would we get it up there? Would it best be convex or concave shaped? Will it be solar powered? We might record how plants respond over time to various levels of light, 24/7.

How about history and literature classes? We might look at how various civilizations portrayed the moon in legend. We might even rewrite Goodnight Moon. Or listen to various songs about the moon and write a new one for ourselves. We might even look up city codes to see if there are laws about how bright night objects can be. You know there is a law in most communities, right?

And, begging pardon to Van Morrison, I’d have to invent a new Moondance, of course.

So what do you think?
Who’s in for tackling this challenge during the next new/full moon cycle?

So how does one move from reading about something interesting and then turning it into a PBL opportunity with our kids?

Great question! I’ll be answering this in my next blog post! Stay tuned.

But in the meantime, you know you wanna hear that song…





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Written by GingerLewman

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