A FRAMEWORK FOR DEVELOPING A STUDENT-LED LAB ACTIVITY

Image result for spring scale experiment

by Erin Turner

Intention:

The nature of physics experiments (in the high school classroom) creates a perfect situation to allow students to generate their own testable questions. Many of the safety concerns that might exist in other disciplines can often be avoided when teaching classical physics, as the materials are much more benign. This catalyst was originally designed and tested in an SPH 3U classroom using the concept of friction, but it could be easily adapted to other classes and scenarios.

Scaffolding:

While presenting this process to the class, the steps were outlined using a simple scenario of the students’ choosing (ex/ Does mass have an impact on the coefficient of static friction?). Particular attention was paid to identifying variables (independent, dependent, and controlled), as this tends to be a stumbling block for students, even at the senior level. Using the terms Manipulated Variable and Responding Variable helped clarify for students the relationship between variables more than the traditional Independent/Dependent phrasing.

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LAUNCHING DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY

Grade 3 students were introduced to simple tools and design strategies before diving into a trans-disciplinary project (Science & Technology, Social Studies, Mathamatics, Language and The Arts). The culminating activity was to design and build a new landmark for a specific location in Ontario. Continue reading

Building an Electric Car in Grade 9 Science – Student Activity

 

The Focus on Inquiry:

This guided inquiry project was designed to provide students with the challenge of creating a fully-electric car.  The students were provided with a motor, photographs of sample electric cars, an outline of the criteria their car was to meet, and a rubric as a marking scheme.

The Inquiry Project:

The project was discussed and proposed at the beginning of the physics unit of study in grade 9 applied science. 

Students were tasked with completing three main components:

I.       A Thought Book

This is where the students formulated questions, made hypotheses, and made predictions about their project prior to beginning construction of their electric car.  The Thought Book took the form of pre-formatted Google Slides that the students shared with the teacher and the rest of their peers.  The students completed different ‘pages’ of the Thought Book as they progressed through different stages of the inquiry project.  They also used the Though Book to gather, organize and record information during their ‘build days’.

II.     A schematic of their circuit

This is where the students communicated their understanding of how electricity moves through their circuit.  Students were asked to communicate their results in appropriate key terms (ie. source, load, conductor, insulator, switch).

III.    Reflection questions

These questions were designed to have students reflect on their learning, analyze their outcomes, describe their challenges and how they surmounted them.

This activity is part of STAO’s Connex series.  For more details about this activity, including all you need to use it in your classroom go to the STAO Connex page…

 

Forget shopping. Soon you’ll download your new clothes – TED Ed by Danit Peleg

Downloadable, printable clothing may be coming to a closet near you. What started as designer Danit Peleg’s fashion school project turned into a collection of 3D-printed designs that have the strength and flexibility for everyday wear. Continue reading

Robotic Arm

Robotic arm

At this level, students are expected to understand a functional structure and identify the various processes and components of a system (e.g., robot, front-end loader/backhoe). The students should also be able to calculate the mechanical advantage (MA = force needed without a simple machine divided by force needed with a simple machine) of various mechanical systems (e.g., a robotic arm transfers force through the fulcrum or a simple fixed pulley system redirects the effort force). This activity will provide a concrete example of how a robotic arm functions, thus describing systems that could potentially improve the productivity of various industries (e.g., robotic systems have increased the rate of production in factories that assemble the fine parts of wristwatches).

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