Cultural and Historical Influences on a Project-Based Learning Training Program in Medellín, Colombia

  • Cliff ZintgraffEmail author
  • Miguel F. Daza
  • António Rodriguez Vides
  • Carol Fletcher
  • Jennifer J. Kaszuba
  • Joules M. Webb
Living reference work entry


This chapter examines the influence of cultural and historical context on the Medellín, Colombia, STEAM-LABS teacher professional development program. STEAM-LABS was an 18-month collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin and Medellín’s Ministry of Education. The program trained 23 secondary and 8 college educators on the integration of project-based learning (PBL) into classroom instruction. Those educators in turn trained 137 additional educators, in total impacting 1440 students. Design was informed by educational theories and also by the city’s science and technology plan, recent history, and long-term history and culture. The authors begin with a review of relevant Medellín history. The authors then share a naturalistic narrative of development and execution of the STEAM-LABS program and a description of one curriculum’s development during the program. Cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) is used to analyze the overall program and the example curriculum, with both analyses in context of the review of Medellín’s history. The authors found that principles of PBL supported the presence of culture and history in the STEAM-LABS program and not just in isolated forms or as an afterthought but in pervasive ways that fundamentally influenced the artifacts produced and program outcomes. The authors observed that new PBL programs properly grounded in a region’s culture and history benefit from renewable human energy that sustains their growth. The authors’ story-driven narratives and critical analysis serve as one example of how an educational program used culture and history for the benefit of teachers and students.


Medellín, Colombia Project-based learning STEM STEAM Education reform Technology-based development Regional development Science and technology policy 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cliff Zintgraff
    • 1
    Email author
  • Miguel F. Daza
    • 2
  • António Rodriguez Vides
    • 3
  • Carol Fletcher
    • 1
  • Jennifer J. Kaszuba
    • 1
  • Joules M. Webb
    • 4
  1. 1.The University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.The Magellan International SchoolAustinUSA
  3. 3.Institución Educativa José Acevedo y GómezMedellínColombia
  4. 4.The University of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

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