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Episode #98. Saturday March 19, 2022, 5:30 am Eastern

New Zealand North Island: Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered pedagogical approach that can hook students into science. In this session, Sutapa Mukund will explain how PBL allows students to explore real-world authentic problems. The problem often drives the learning process as learners are motivated to think about various solutions to the problem. To solve the problem, students are encouraged to work in collaboration with others such as in building and maintaining a communal garden within a school campus. This allows learners to share diverse skills within a team environment. PBL ties in well with project-based forms of learning as learners often work over extended periods of time on a specific project to either solve a problem or design an outcome like a tyre garden, hanging gardens, or hydroponics units. Both problem- and project-based learning approaches are intertwined and encourage learners to master 21st-century skills towards future-focused learning. These approaches allow learners to be bold and curious while challenging them to move outside their comfort zones and adapt to a rapidly changing world. Her chapter in the new book, Transformative Teaching Around the World Stories of Cultural Impact, Technology Integration, and Innovative Pedagogy, edited by Curt Bonk and Meina Zhu, offers a snapshot of both these approaches in a science context.

New Zealand South Island: An Urban Concept Farm was established at a Years 7 to 13 college in the city of Dunedin, New Zealand. In this session, the teacher driving the Farm’s establishment and learning programme, Simon McMillan, will detail his development as an educator and the bases for why the Farm has been created. Project-based learning and applied learning in different contexts have seen success in student motivation and engagement. As detailed in this literally ground-breaking chapter in the new book, Transformative Teaching Around the World, this approach also provided the chance for metacognitive experiences to flourish. Moreover, the success of the Urban Concept Farm space underscores the need to challenge how learning traditionally happens in schools. A recent article by Sharon Fowler in Daily Encourager (March 1, 2022), “Urban farm reaps active rewards,” details the program and its successes. More about our guests below the video

Sutapa Mukund is currently a National Assessment Facilitator in New Zealand. Her role involves facilitating and administering the secondary school assessments of New Zealand’s National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) in senior secondary schools. In 2015, Sutapa represented New Zealand on a Fulbright Distinguished Teaching Award in the USA. She has also been the recipient of the Royal Society Award and the Science Teacher Leadership Award in New Zealand. Her teaching career has spanned over three decades across India, Oman, and New Zealand, of which 21 years were spent teaching science in Auckland. Sutapa enjoys travelling and fine arts as much as she enjoys science. She is a storyteller. This is clearly reflected in this chapter in Transformative Teaching Around the World, where she narrates a story from her recent teaching experiences. Sutapa can be contacted at

Simon McMillan is Head of Science at Kaikorai Valley College, Dunedin, New Zealand. He completed a Ph.D. in Sedimentary Geology in 1993. Simon was a Royal Society of New Zealand Teaching Fellow in 2004, the Sir Peter Blake Environmental Educator in 2008, and a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching (DAT) recipient in 2016. A full-length amputee since 1979, he is a former disabled swimming world record holder. Simon teaches Science, Chemistry, Sustainability, and classes in Learning to Learn. He has founded and remains the Head of the Urban Concept Farm initiative at his school. He can be reached at


Bonk, C. J., & Zhu, M. (Eds.). (2022). Transformative Teaching Around the World: Stories of Cultural Impact, Technology Integration, and Innovative Pedagogy. NY: Routledge. Available:

Routledge; Amazon