Plan of Attack

Setting up some basics for how I am implementing the first few activities for physics.

  1. Background/Statement of Problem
    1. Learning kinematics and Newtonian concepts can become challenging when students are unable to effectively analyze problems conceptually.  Students should be able to correctly draw diagrams, construct graphs, and intuitively understand the problem in order for them to reduce it to its basic concepts.  Problems in Newtonian Mechanics can often require proper scaffolding of previous knowledge.  The PhET Interactive Simulations Project offers physics simulations of real-world phenomena in practical ways.  Using interactive activities and guided virtual experimentation, a student can solidify the required foundation of conceptual knowledge asked of Newtonian Mechanics. Since creating real world laboratories for all of the physical concepts is impractical, these virtual simulations can provide an effective means to supplement classroom instruction.  The flexibility of simulations allows for easy implementation into coursework and we will be aiming at studying the effects of introducing simulations into homework activities .
  2. Goal/Objective
    1. The goal is to design an effective  use of PhET simulations in student activities to increase a student’s conceptual understanding of kinematics and Newtonian Mechanics.
    2. The objective is to create a gently guided framework for the PhET simulations to clarify common misconceptions.  The design will be implemented as an interactive activity to be used either before or after a topics instruction.
  3. Identifying Areas of Confusion and Simulations to match
    1. One Dimensional Motion

                                                              i.      The Moving Man/The Maze Game/Calculus Grapher

  1. A reverse in direction is not a change in sign
  2. Same velocity means same acceleration for two objects
  3. Zero velocity means zero acceleration or vice versa
  4. Position and velocity graphs plotted as path of motion.
  5. Velocity doesn’t depend on observer
  6. Two dimensional motion

                                                              i.      Motion in 2D/Vector Addition/Ladybug Game(circular motion)/Projectile Motion

  1. Path of projectiles. (Cannon firing object at different speeds, and time for ball to hit floor or its path of motion)
  2. Objects dropped or shot up from moving carriers.
  3. Forces F=ma

                                                              i.      Forces in 1 Direction/Ramp: Forces and Motion/The Ramp/Forces and Motion

  1. Forces cause acceleration not motion
  2. Stationary objects have no forces
  3. Moving objects have force in direction of motion
  4. Force is a fuel and can be consumed or used up
  5. An increase in force will produce an increase in speed
  6. Gravity

                                                              i.      Gravity Force Lab/Lunar Lander

  1. Gravity is a property of the object itself
  2. Objects on the ground have no gravity acting on it or falling objects have more gravity
  3. Actual design and Implementation (predict/test/confirm)
    1. Define Specific learning goals
    2. Encourage learning and not performance, make connections
    3. Give only minimal direction on simulation
    4. Explain reasoning in various ways (diagrams/words/equations)
    5. Random Checks on understanding/recheck previous predictions
  4. Activity Design

i.      The structure will attempt to use the PhET simulations activities that offer minimal guidance over how to use the simulation .

  1. The activity will present common misconception questions to the student and then offer a small-guided question toward the simulation.
  2. The following activity will be constructed by the student for them to explore.
  3. Follow-up questions designed to check the students understanding and confirm their answers to the misconceptions questions will then be given.

ii.      Students should be able to answer questions through diagrams, words, or equations. A cycle of prediction, testing, and evaluation will be used.

iii.      Areas to address – Delivery of PhET(audio/type), accessibility, analytical/conceptual solutions, medium of activity (handout/web), checkpoint questions, etc etc…

  1. Experimental Data/Collection
    1. Pre/Post test analysis of fundamental concepts
    2. Average Confidence
    3. Interview
  2. Abstract
    1. Learning kinematics and Newtonian concepts can become challenging when students are unable to effectively analyze problems conceptually.  The PhET Interactive Simulations Project offers physics simulations of real-world phenomena in practical ways as a modern day tool for instruction.  Simulations such as these have been shown to enhance student learning by actively engaging the student and providing an effective alternative to traditional education.  Although a rapid development in modern technologies has been seen in the 21st century, there is less parallelism to the actual implementation of such technologies into most curriculums.  We hope that creating a simple, effective, and reliable package of instructional multimedia content will help promote the use of PhET simulations and enhance today’s curriculum.  We intend to use the web to deliver pre-packaged PhET simulations in an activity that can be seamlessly integrated into instruction.

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