Increase students’ engagement and facilitate their mastery of complex concepts through using project-based learning in biology.

When learning STEM subjects, students are often successful when they apply the concepts that are being taught. The student-centered practice of project-based learning, also known as PBL, requires learners to use the knowledge acquired through study, not simply memorize information to repeat on an exam. Through project-based learning in biology, teachers can allow their class to experience lessons by engaging in activities that bring to life the concepts that are crucial to subject mastery.  Use the following activities to bring a new pedagogy to teaching biology.

1. Humane Dissection

project-based learning in biologyMany teachers remember school days of being faced with the choice of either dissecting a frog, or writing a report comparable to the project. These days, project-based learning in biology has become more humane with virtual dissections. Through McGraw-Hill Education’s Virtual Biology Laboratory, students can choose to dissect a frog or earthworm online.

2. Safe Science

Though it might not receive as much publicity now as during the height of the crisis, HIV/AIDS (Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) remains an issue for more than one million people living in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Baylor College of Medicine helps teachers incorporate project-based learning in biology lessons through its “Modeling an HIV Particle” activity. Not only will students learn about the virus, they will also craft their own model of an HIV particle.

3. Hand-to-Hand Biology

project-based learning in biologyProsthetics have evolved into devices that provide nearly all the abilities of healthy hands, but these groundbreaking products started with simple designs. Using information acquired through lessons on the muscular and skeletal systems and Science Buddies’ project outline “Build a Helping Hand,” students will design their own prosthetic hand prototypes. During this activity, students will also use the hand to perform actions, thereby linking project-based learning in biology with other STEM topics, such as engineering concepts.

4. Thinking Outside the Bio Box

Building a class garden provides a number of benefits to students, such as cultivating skills in team building, research and development, engineering, and biology. Students will examine how soil quality, seed placement, and the frequency with which the garden is tended affect processes such as germination and photosynthesis. In fulfilling the need for project-based learning in biology, this activity will cultivate life skills necessary to succeed in trade school, internships, college, and career.

The potential for this method of teaching isn’t limited to only project-based learning in biology. This opportunity to tailor the classroom to the needs of students can be applied to any STEM subject, including physics, Earth science, and middle-school science.

Don’t miss a beat while incorporating these new concepts by downloading STEM Jobs’ free guide to project-based learning.


  1. McGraw-Hill Education
  2. Baylor College of Medicine
  3. Science Buddies
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