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Thursday, August 20, 2015

CT-STEM Lesson Notes: PhET Resonance Computer Lab

With science classes around the country being responsible for the Next Generation Science Standards  (NGSS), teachers will need to develop more labs and activities that get students doing the process of science, rather than learning just science facts and being given information - students will need to 'discover' some portion of the material studied in the class.

This example is for a computer-based lab from the PhET library, and it deals with a topic students will almost certainly not know, resonance. Students can do a series of controlled experiments, trying to see what combinations of mass, spring constant, amplitude, frequency, and even gravity, have on the system reaching a resonance state, where the oscillator and mass are in phase with each other. Being a computer simulation, there are also numerous computational skills and concepts that are addressed.

Variations of this could include students making a screencast of their experimental sessions, and then using Tracker or another video analysis package to get finer details and measurements, by having frame-by-frame options and so on. This type of simulation exercise can allow for many good conversations about experimental design, data collection (especially when the springs are going through transient phases in the simulation), and reaching conclusions when there are multiple physical parameters that might affect the spring oscillations. All of these types of skills and experiences fall under NGSS, and these are all computational thinking skills on top of it.

Whether it is this specific lesson or not, teachers can set up numerous other simulations in the same way to develop a set of CT lessons that address NGSS requirements.

1 comment:

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