Saturday, September 13, 2014

Initial Forays Into the World of Modeling in Physics Instruction

Introduction: I was fortunate to be accepted to participate in the Modeling Workshop that was conducted by the North Central region of Michigan via COOR ISD this summer. 

Goal: Since I was teaching a summer course at the same time that the workshop has been conducted, I thought I would put some of what I have learned to the test immediately to gain more hands-on experience with the modeling approach to instructing Physix before the following academic year begins.

Philosophy: I think one's success with new approaches to instruction would have higher chances of success if one allows the new methods (Modeling approach in my case) to seamlessly blend with her/his way of doing things. In other words, one has to own her/his Modeling way.

The Nadj! Approach Constant Velocity Particle Model: 

1) I like starting my Physix units by having students analyze art pieces and extract preliminary Physix concepts out of them. In this case, the students were shown a visual art piece (see image below) & a video that shows the Berlin philharmonic under the directorship of maestro Herbert Von Karajan conducting playing the last movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony. Students were to compare & contrast the two art pieces Physix-wise, a class discussion ensued, and the idea of motion and movement emerged naturally from the experience.

2) Couple of Clickerims were given to prep the students for the Constant Velocity Particle Model lab.

3) Following is a sequence of pictures that shows some aspects of the modeling process.

Task Board that explains to students what their respective boards must contain.
One of the group's set up for the CVPM lab (notice the little tabs for time calls.)

Student sets her iPhone to videotape the motion of her group's buggy.

CVPM lab run of one of the groups.
Boards set for whiteboarding sessions! :-)
4) The students' engagement, the ideas they had to generate, the details they had to wrestle with, the whiteboarding session that ensued, and the levee of understanding reached were all a marvel thing to witness.

This is just a snapshot of what had transpired this summer and hopefully more Coolisms will emerge as I become more familiar with the method and the wonderful outcomes it seems to readily yield.

Thank you for reading this blog post and I encourage you to comment about similar experiences you had, suggestions you may offer, or pedagogical ideas this may have triggered in your mind. Please, commit your thoughts to the comments area. 

Model away, Model all the way! :-)    

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