This module provides examples of High School Problem Based Learning experiences. You will find a range of resources to get you started with PBL's in health education.  In the first section you will find Questions Starter Stems these stems for you or students to identify problems for PBL's as well as ways to engaging students in problem based learning,  Questions Starters are questions that can help guide projects related to health education and project starters are examples of PBL's. The last section of the module you will find two full step by step PBL projects aligned with standards. 

Question Starter Stems:

Question stems can be used to engage students identifying their own projects, or to introduce a PBL's.

    • How  can ______ improve  _______?
    • How can ______ be applied to ______?
    • How can ______ change ______?
    • How would you design a new ______?
    • How does ______ affect ______?
    • What impact did/does ______ have on ______ ?
    • What makes a good/effective ______?
    • How do/does ______ impact my community?
    • What is the relationship between ______ and ______?
    • What would ______ be without ______?
    • If you were in charge of ______, what would you change?
    • How can you use ______ to inspire ______?
    • How might your community change if ______?

Question Starters:

    • How can we make our community sweeter?
    • How do stories from the past define who we are today?
    • What new monument or museum should be built in our city to enhance the lives of our citizens and visitors?
    • How can we create a more sustainable, efficient, healthy modern ecosystem?
    • How can we manage scarcity?
    • How can we create "farm to table" at our school during the winter months?
    • How can we build community?
    • How can we make getting around in the winter more safe and convenient?
    • I what ways can I change the injustices I witness?
    • What's the fastest and cheapest and healthiest way for me to get to school on time?

Project Starters:

Project #1:
 Here's an idea suitable for any school that is overdue for a makeover. The teacher behind this idea has built in constraints to force creativity: proposals must make the building more efficient, student-friendly and support social emotional, and physical health of students. Students will apply their understanding of math and art to generate scale drawings, which they'll pitch to school administrators (along with proposed budgets and rationale or justification for the change). I can also imagine students making prototypes in a makerspace or using an online tool like  SketchUp to generate plans.

Project #2 Two speakers have been invited to a town hall meeting to help decide a hotly contested issue. A grant has been awarded to the school district with the stipulation that the money be dedicated to only one program. School officials wish to use the funds to improve the science curriculum, but district parents favor an investment in physical education to improve the health of their children. Since the grant money cannot be divided, students are forced to grapple with the role of science in education, the growing problem of childhood obesity, and related issues of public policy.

Project #3: This project invites students to be innovators. Where do they see opportunities for local improvements? How can they use engineering principles to design and model improved purposes for empty lots or blighted spaces? Student investigations are likely to include surveys, interviews, prototyping, collaboration, and more as they take on this real-world challenge and share their results with local decision makers. The same project could incorporate social studies or economics by having students consider the stories behind specific places. What used to occupy now-vacant spaces? What changed? What was lost?

Project #4: Intended for high school science students, this project focuses on an authentic need in the area that students live. The project needs to address a health need that they have identified in their community. Students will apply their understanding of science and engineering to design a device, product, or environmental change that will help address the identified need. The proposals will be judged by local experts in the areas that students identify. Potential benefits could go well beyond academic understanding; these products could be lifesaving.

Project #5 Solving ‘screen time’ for yourself and family? This projects invites students to explore screen time for themselves, family, and friends. Student explore and apply their understanding of the how screen time impacts the brain as well as the psychological and social impacts of screen time. Students will be identify solutions to reducing the impacts of screen time while maintaining the positive aspects of the use of applications and devices.  

Virus Spread and Prevention: 9-12th grade  (2-4 weeks)

Standard: HS.4.6- Develop and maintain ongoing evaluation of factors that impact health, and modify lifestyle accordingly.

Background: This unit will focus on understanding how viruses, such as coronavirus, influenza, and HIV, can spread throughout a community population. Students will use the information from this unit to develop a strategy to prevent community spread of infections.   

Vocabulary: Mitigation, Containment, Immunization, Screening, Infectious Disease, Prevention, Transmission, Vaccination, Quarantine, Contagious

Integration: This PBL is considered a cross-content focus with health education, mathematics, and social studies

Health Skills: Accessing Information, Advocacy, Self-Management

Students Can:

  1. Analyze the role of personal responsibility in maintaining and enhancing personal, family, and community wellness

  2. Debate the social and ethical implications of the availability, use of technology and medical advances to support wellness

  3. Explore the importance of health screenings, immunizations, and checkups, including screenings, and examinations that are necessary to maintain health

Essential Question: 

  • How can communities help prevent the spread of infections?

  • How can we prevent the spread of infections on a global scale?

  • How has community health measures affected society throughout history?

Potential Prompt: 

The recent worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 has helped increase the awareness of the importance of good community health practices. You will explore the topic of virus and disease transmission and how a community’s health practices can impact the rate of spread. By the end of the unit, you will choose one of the essential questions to focus on. Your goal is to demonstrate your understanding of the question by developing a way to show your knowledge. 

Potential Project Options: 

Product Options
Written Products
Presentation Products Media & Tech Products

Research Report
Awareness Campaign
Book Review
Training Manual
Math/Eng. Analysis
Science Study/Experiment   
Field Guide
Statistical Analysis

Oral Defense
Live Newscast
Panel Discussion
Musical Piece or Dance  
Public Event
Sales Pitch

Audio Recording
Graphic Design
Photo Essay
Computer Program/App  
Digital Story/Comic

Constructed Products
Planning Products Other

Small Scale Model

Consumer Product
Museum Exhibit


Business Plan
Flow Chart

Public Audience:

Consider inviting people in the field of epidemiology, public health, or the healthcare field. This could be done as a panel discussion, gallery walk, or within a remote environment by sending the student artifacts to the experts.


Introductory Activity/Entry Event: This is meant to introduce students to the topic.

  • How did the 2020 Corona-virus affect you or your family/community? 

    • Gallery walk or whole group discussion about the following categories:

      • Physical Health

      • Relationships

      • Financial

      • Mental Health

      • Other

    • Then ask students to brainstorm the long-term impacts an epidemic can have on a community. 

  • Driving Questions: Explain to students that we, as a class, will study the impact of infectious disease spread within a community and how a community can lessen outbreaks from occurring. Then introduce students to the three driving questions:

    • How can communities help prevent the spread of infections?

    • How can we prevent the spread of infections on a global scale?

    • How has community health measures affected society throughout history?

  • Need to Know List: In order to study all aspects of the issue, we will need to first develop a “need to know” list. A need to know list is an excellent tool to build buy-in for students. This is because the list will be the driver of what the class will learn. Most of what you plan will be determined by the development of the need to know list. However, if students don’t write down questions that are specific to what you need to learn about, it is completely acceptable to prompt them to think about certain learning objectives you would like them to learn about.

    • You can separate the list into two categories: 

      • Logistics- These are questions that are specific to requirements of the project. For example, “what is our timeline for completion?” or “Can we work in groups?”

      • Informational-These are questions that focus on the objective of the learning. For example, “What guidelines has the CDC created to mitigate community spread?” “What does mitigation mean?” “Are there other viruses that we should learn about, too?”

  • Project Introduction: Introduce the project prompt and examples of student products they can develop. This might be a time to add additional questions to the driving question list.

Potential Activities and Resources to Consider for this PBL: 

Community Advocacy Plan (1-2 weeks)


Standards will depend on the data a student chooses to analyze

Background: This unit will focus on students learning how to analyze data that is relevant to their community and to develop an action plan that addresses a data point they would like to positively influence. Students will use the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data and other local data (public health data, school level data, etc.).

Vocabulary: advocacy, data analysis, *dependant on the focus area

Integration: This PBL could be integrated into any course that focuses on data analysis, such as math or social studies

Health Skills: Advocacy for Self & Others, Analyzing Influences

Students Can:

  • Use data tools and resources to analyze community health data

  • Aggregate data to develop a root cause of data points

  • Develop a plan of action in order to influence a health-related change to the community

Essential Questions:

  • How do we effectively analyze data?
  • How can data drive decisions about change?
  • What are effective advocacy strategies for developing impacts in community health?

Prompt: Since 2013, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has surveyed middle and high school students, using the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS), about topics that affect their lives. The topics include, but are not limited to, food choices, physical activity, substance use, sexual health, and mental health. The purpose of the survey is to use the data collected to bring awareness to the health challenges teenagers may be facing. The goal for this PBL is for students to analyze the HKCS data, along with data from other sources, and choose an area of focus. Once an area of focus is established, students will create an action plan to help combat the health challenge.

Project Format: This project first requires students to learn how to analyze and aggregate data from multiple sources, including Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, local public health data, and school-level data. Using the data, students will need to choose a topic to focus on to develop a community action plan for helping to solve the problem. This can be a public service announcement, a school-level policy change proposal, or another student-driven solution.

Public Audience: If students are developing a public service announcement, then students at their school can be used as the public audience. If students are advocating for a policy change, then administrators, teachers, or district staff can be used as an audience.

Possible Activities during this PBL might include:

Last modified: Monday, 27 September 2021, 3:27 PM