Problem-Based Learning

An Example

Cosmetic dentists are not only artists, but also architects. Instead of painting on canvas, the teeth are the surfaces that cosmetic dentists use to create their masterpieces.  Instead of oil paints, dentists use materials such as porcelain to create veneers and aesthetic crowns in order to give people the confidence of a beautiful smile. Like an architect, a dentist must know the correct material to resist physical stress on a building and factor in other environmental stresses unique to each person and the physical forces that our jaws produce such as grinding and clenching.

At Galileo Preparatory Academies teachers use problem-based learning to actively engage students in the learning process. Students are given — or choose — a real-world problem to solve based on the curriculum they have been studying. Often this crosses disciplines, as in the real world.

Physics Service-based Mastery Task

Would you want your dentist to build you the smile of The Mona Lisa or The Leaning Tower of Pisa? In order to demonstrate mastery of the concepts in this Physics unit, you will intern for four hours with a cosmetic dentist and complete the interview questions provided.

In order to learn more about Mona Lisa's smile, do some research on how Leonardo DaVinci created his/her smile. With your Art and Science teachers, research the muscles that are used to move the lips and how they move, how the lower lip moves the upper lip to produce a smile, and how Leonardo was able to capture this in Mona Lisa's smile.

Try to draw the Mona Lisa on graph paper, tracing it by projecting it on a wall or a screen. Look for the features of the face and the lips, the curvature of the lips and their proportions, as well as the proportions of the face. With your Art teacher, discuss why this is such an iconic and famous smile and why the French government has determined that Leonardo's Mona Lisa can neither be bought, nor sold. Discuss in small groups what feelings or thoughts her smile and overall appearance evoke in you, the things that contribute to create this, and what you think in general of this smile.

With your English teacher, create a historical fiction piece, a story on how you think the painting was really created and give her/his smile a twist in the story that might uncover a deep mystery.

Here's one article that can answer some of your questions: