[IAEP] Physics - Lesson plans ideas?

forster at ozonline.com.au forster at ozonline.com.au
Sun Aug 16 03:25:11 EDT 2009


You ask whether Bill's Physics Activity suggestions have anything to do with real science. You rightly point out that the Physics Activity is an imperfect simulation of the real world and just as mysterious. Certainly playing with the Physics Activity is not the best way to discover how the real world works. 

You draw the distinction between real maths and real science. Bill's suggestions work if you think more like a mathematician than a scientist. We study complex numbers and transfinite numbers even though they aren't real world. Root(-1) isn't real world but its a useful abstraction to study.

Maths is the study of rule-based systems. Some of the maths isn't that useful in itself but the ability to understand and think in that system is a valid educational goal. It strengthens the ability to think in other rule-based systems.

The Physics Activity has its set of rules and Bill's activities encourage students to discover these rules, to think more deeply about them and to compare them to the idealised maths which is used to describe the real world. It may not be a good way to understand the rules that govern the real world but it is a good way to do a scientific study of a microworld which is governed by its own set of rules.

Surely testing and discovering the rules which govern a microworld strengthens our ability to understand other rule based systems including real world physics?

Some advantages of this microworld:
Its engaging
Setup and cleanup are easy
Bills suggestions are suitable for self-directed learning
The cycle time to test a hypothesis is short, more time for cognitive conflict (deep thinking)
With simulations you can perform experiments that are unsafe in the real world

Thanks for your contributions.


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