PBL: The Happiness Project

My much-loved Studies class will leave me in just under 12 weeks. Sob. After two years together they’re my little PBL prodigies – ala the flexible nature of Studies!

In their grand finale, they are undertaking what is turning out to be a favourite project of mine – The Happiness Project. The overarching idea is to identify what causes significant, long-lasting happiness (as opposed to fleeting but beloved: chocolate, shopping etc). I figure if they walk away with nothing else from our two years together they will at least be masters of their own joy.

What I’m finding really exciting about this unit is the potential this has to be really life changing. I mean, I’m a realist, I know not everyone will engage. But so far there has been some super cool research come out about: music, mindfulness, anxiety/depression, love, poetry, touch therapy, food etc. I’m so excited to see how these kids will try to change someone’s day (if not their world… whispers that ever hopeful voice.)


The class that runs together laughs together… right?

As part of our learning routine, we all head down to our school gym once a week and work up a sweat together. Research indicates that exercise is strongly tied to happiness; from releasing dopamine to equipping your body to process anxiety.  Check out this brain after just 20min of mild exercise. As always, we learn best by doing.

brain after walking


The Project.


Driving Question:

How can I spark genuine joy in my community?


In this project YOU will be the product. You will become on expert on the science of happiness, what causes it and how to raise our happiness levels. You will then put this knowledge into practice through a series of experiments involving members of our community. Bring on the joy!


Your Week 8 speaking Assessment will be held in front of a live panel. You will need to explain to them what causes happiness and how you have used this knowledge to spread joy throughout our community.


BM1: Deliver an expert speech to our class exploring what causes real happiness.

BM2,3,4 are all the same task to offer opportunities for experimentation, reflection and refinement. Very much the if at first you don’t succeed, try again vibe.

Set a goal to spark genuine joy for a member of our community. Implement and then reflect on the effectiveness of your attempt in your gratitude journal.


BM5 (Assessment task): Present a speech responding to our driving question: How can I spark genuine joy in my community? In your speech you should refer to your journey over the past 10 weeks and what you have tried to achieve.



Sample pages from their Gratitude Journal.

1                   2                    4

                       5                     6

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