Tables in groups. Focus on students working with each other rather than on teacher.
Given a 15 x 15 cm square of aluminium foil build a barge that will support the most weight.
Students come up with many great designs but surface area is key here. A simple square barge usually emerges as the winner.
The barge captain must take care to not over load his barge and send it to Davey Jones’ locker. Knowing when to say when and not getting greedy are the traits of a skilleed barge captain.
Pennies are added one at a time until the captain makes the call to stop or the ship is sunk. Classroom record is 89 pennies but be careful if you sink your ship you have to bring treats for the class.
Students are issued the challenge: Engineer a car crash that occurs at a point designated by your intructor. (No buggy may start less than 1 meter from the crash site.) Oh yeah, and you can’t have your buggies until you are ready to crash them.
At first they are stumped but then they dig into their old data from their previous work and I am impress with how quickly many of the groups are ready to go.
Teachers note: the buggies do not maintain a steady course. Curved path over just a few meters leads to a bunch of near misses as seen below…
We begin our week with a few simple problems to review the various reprsentations we have worked with so far. Students are given a position/time, velocity/time, motion map, or verbal description and asked produce the other three. The exercises are simple and only one board has a mistake; a minor one at that. I ask if there was any way that this exercise could be more a more productive use of our time? The students feel like when all the answers are correct there isn’t much to discuss. I take this opportunity to introduce the mistake game.
This game has only two rules:
*Make at least one intentional. mistake
*Make as many unintentional mistakes as you wish
Students intentional mistakes are then critiqued by the other groups. We play the mistake game often and many of the kids enjoy trying to sneak their mistakes by the other groups. Students are forced to analyze their board in a whole new way when the are trying to make mistakes. Of course, all of those wrong answers make for great discussion fodder as well.