Buzzworthy Learning: Solving the Ecology Honeybee Crisis through Project-Based Socratic Seminar

Buzzworthy Learning: Solving the Ecology Honeybee Crisis through Project-Based Socratic Seminar

What comes to mind when you hear Project-Based Learning

If you’re like many teachers this time of year, your first thought is probably “ugh…not another project!” or maybe things like: long, time-consuming,extensive research, group work, etc.

First off, I want you to try and clear your mind of what you normally associate with project work and be open to what I’m going to share with you. 

I'll tell you, this particular Project Based Learning (PBL) lesson has consistently been a favorite of my students year after year! 

The Vanishing of the Bees 🐝 Project is a great way to break up the traditional notes & lecture format and instead allow your students to take the driver's seat in solving this real-world, environmental problem in the bee industry.  

Think about it, you’ve spent nearly an entire school year demonstrating the scientific process unit after unit, hoping that at some point students will see how each activity was a building block to solving or understanding a greater concept. 

Why not present a lesson where the practice of carrying out the steps of science and engineering practice, researching and drawing conclusions are all in one. Better yet, have the students in charge of getting from point A to point B, rather than you leading to all the answers. 

The Vanishing of the Bees project is a project where the goal is to essentially develop a solution to a real-world problem. But here’s the twist that makes this lesson highly engaging; after presenting the solution to the class, the entire class will interact with each other using a Socratic seminar method. 

Ultimately, the class will come up with one or multiple solutions to the problem that can be agreed upon by most (if not all) the students AKA “the stakeholders”. 

Your job? You are there to clarify and guide where it’s needed, otherwise, see where your students go when presented with a fully structured, NGSS aligned and interactive activity like The Vanishing of the Bees project!

Project Overview

Quick tip 💡 You’ll want to do some pre-planning ahead of time, just to ensure that you have enough time for the collaboration, research and presentation part of the project. 

Because this is a project-based learning style, it requires a bit more time than a typical project, because of the problem-solving, engineering and deeper engaging elements that actually make up a PBL. 

With this, I suggest planning for 6 to 8 class periods. If block periods are an option at your school, 90- minute block periods work best! If this seems extensive, keep reading! I’ll suggest parts that can be assigned as homework or shared online to save a bit on class time. 

Cross-Curricular and Jigsaw Learning Connections/Extensions

Ok, now one of the toughest parts of being a high school teacher…how to get your students hooked and engaged in the lesson?

The answer: Take them back to Kindergarten with a little storytime! 

Do you have a bee story, have a short video clip of bees at work, or maybe do a quick search of a recent bee crisis event. Either way, you want to create a storyline where you introduce the topic of the bee crisis. As you start to ask questions, lead your students into other topics like:

  • Symbiotic relationships
  • Food chain / food web
  • Bee life cycle
  • Eusocial behaviors
  • Monoculture farming

Now that your students start to realize that this bee crisis has a true domino effect, present a scenario of what happens when other groups get involved. 

The Honeybee Crisis project is designed to not only create a well thought-out solution as the final task, but to design a solution that is also plausible when stakeholders, government officials and economists get thrown in the mix. 

That’s what is so great about the Socratic seminar element of this project! A true group effort needs to be made when considering all of the different perspectives that they will need to consider when coming to a class-made decision

Project Components

Here’s an overview of The Honeybee Crisis PBL Lesson⤵️

  • The Hook 🪝: Show ‘The Pollinators’ documentary or have the class read an article about colony collapse disorder and how it affects us.
  • Discussion🗣️ & Project Introduction ⚡ : After explain the PBL & Socratic Seminar format, assign students to their chosen or given stakeholder roles. Use this time to also discuss how you will be providing time in class for research or whatever method suits your classroom best!
  • Research & Presentation💻: Explain presentation and solution requirements: the proposed solutions should solve the assigned stakeholder’s viewpoint.
  • Socratic Seminar 🙋: Discuss the Socratic seminar method where the goal is that all stakeholders, AKA the class, will reach a consensus.

Product Description

For the same cost as a latte and bagel at your local coffee shop, here is everything you get in this jam packed lesson all ready-to-use Google drive folder⤵️

✴️Google & download instructions

✴️Teacher resources, articles and links

✴️Day-to-Day lesson plans

✴️Article questions

✴️Collaborative documentary graphic organizer

✴️Socratic seminar introduction presentation 

✴️Self & Group evaluations (Google Form & Document)

✴️Detailed student project handout

✴️Project Log (Google Form & Document) 

✴️Socratic seminar agenda 


The most valuable part of using Socratic seminars in a high school biology or environmental class is that it creates a new way of thinking by building on student-led discussions!

How many of us have spent hours on a lesson, researching all the ways to make it most engaging, fun and applicable to the standards only to have the same 2 or 3 (...or 1) students actually participate.

The Vanishing of the Bees Project is an excellent way to introduce your students to a new way of problem solving and creating structured success!

This is a fully done-for-you biology and environmental lesson that is already NGSS aligned, provides additional storyline tips and offers cross-curricular connections. 

I think once you try this, you’ll be looking for more ways to turn standard lessons into Socratic seminars.

It’s a great way to change things up in your classroom, with minimal work on your end 👏

Check out The Vanishing of the Bees Project here, try it out and let me know how it’s going in your classroom. I LOVE hearing from you!

Send me an email at 👉🏻 with the subject: Bee Project

If you’re wanting more, here you go:

💡Feel free to explore Keystone Science for ready-to-use high school biology & ecology NGSS aligned notes and activities.

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