In geometry today we started class with some more discussion of definition and the tools of geometry (ray, line segment, coplanar, colinear, etc.); but the bulk of the discussion today revolved around deductive and inductive reasoning. So I gave them the definition of the terms… and then the real learning began. I placed a different type of logic puzzle at each table (cryptogram, The Hat Puzzle, and a couple of others) and allowed each group eight minutes to work on the problem and most importantly to identify the type of reasoning they were employing. After time was up, each group shifted to the next table to start on the next problem. After each group had been at all six stations we went over the answers.
The kids loved the puzzles and it was awesome getting to see the students who normally don’t participate in class, dive right in and start wrestling with these problems. I was originally torn over whether or not to do this lesson, due to the large block of time required, but after seeing the kids enthusiasm I’m totally sold.
Physics began with a couple of mundane assignments. A lab safety test and an algebra review. At least that’s what I thought. The lab safety test went great, but the algebra review brought feelings of anger, shock and awe, and depression in my students. the assignment was admittedly somewhat difficult, but nothing too hard for high school juniors and seniors. This was it,
Solve that equation, a Lorentz Transformation used in special relativity, for each variable. Cries of “We’ve never seen this!” and “I have no idea where to even start!” reverberated throughout room 310 of McLaurin High School. It was so tough to finally get them to calm down and work. Eventually some put pen to paper, but many still resisted. After working the first couple with them, I challenged them to attempt the next couple of problems on their own or to come to me for extra help. But if nothing else, the review convinced many of the students that they didn’t know it all and that they needed to refocus their attention.
After that debacle, I let them work on some less ‘math-y’ stuff. To introduce them to the scientific method and data analysis I followed the Modeling Instruction curriculum and presented them with a pendulum. We talked about measurable quantities and independent and dependent variables and then I asked them to give me a list of things that could alter the pendulum’s period of oscillation. So we began our House M.D.-esque dialogue with them spitting out variables that they thought were pertinent. The variables ranged from shape of the mass to length of the string. Each group then got a variable and started taking data. We didn’t have time to do the curve fitting of the data, but I look forward to this next time.