Kids Doing Demos, Running the Races: Switching Places

October 1, 2012 at 6:35 AM Leave a comment

How fun is it to let the steel ball bearing run down the ramp? All you other science teachers, we know, it’s the best job, so satisfying that I think wtf, I go to all the trouble to get this lab going, I get to do the cool thing in the demo.

But no. I’m taking a step back and trying something new this year where I *whisper* trust the kids to do ALL parts of the demo. Frankly, it’s sort of relaxing once I’ve trained them up for each job in the demo, to step back and watch how intent they are when it’s them and their friends running it all. Plus a little schadenfreude when they have trouble getting other kids to listen or do it right etc. Taking charge is a really difficult thing to do and one that they need to practice.

So far, I’ve done it twice successfully. Once with a game-based lab and once with the acceleration lab –

Here’s the sheet for the Steelie Acceleration Lab, and here are the pics of the kids doing everything – dropping the steelie,two timers at each meter, and the catcher at the end. Oh and a kid recording data on the board.

With me freed up from bossing them around (which let’s face it, is exactly my usual tiring role), we did a way better job of the science – several trials til we got consistent results from both timers.

The second time was with the  1. Balanced Forces Wrestling: And here are some pics.

This time, we brainstormed the rules for safety and fairness as a class (with a kid recorder). Kids used the rules to find a winner from each table group. For the class semi finals and finals, I got a student to be the umpire, two referees for each participant and a student to record wins and call up the next table winners. Briefly explained their jobs to them. Then stepped back and let them run it.

Amazing, it was so much more fun for all of us. They are used to doing this with their friends at home and are excellent at noticing rule violations. We played ‘We are the Champions” by Queen to complement the nail-biting tension of the competition.

Pretty much everyone now seems to get that equal, opposite forces result in no motion. So that’s part of Newton’s First Law checked off. I know, there’s more to it, but stay tuned for more games served with Newtons. Fig Newtons…


Entry filed under: Class Management, Physics Topics, Starting the School Year. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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