[IAEP] Physics - Lesson plans ideas?

Bill Kerr billkerr at gmail.com
Sat Aug 22 17:44:15 EDT 2009

hi alan,
still thinking about the broader issue you raise about the importance of
real science and its connection to computer based work and how to attempt to
implement this in school settings (complex issue)

however, I do notice that many of the standard etoy simulations are
simulations of real world scientific type events, and not just maths related
- salmon sniff
- fish and plankton
- particles dye in water
- particles gas model

I just checked the etoys gallery. It even says in the gallery, "Frame-based
animation can be used for physics analysis"

I'm also unclear about whether an etoys car or lunar landing simulation
could be misunderstand in the same way that you are suggesting that a
gravity or pendulum simulation could be misunderstood in physics, (which
would be better renamed as "toy physics")

On Sun, Aug 16, 2009 at 12:29 PM, Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com> wrote:

> >I'm not sure how your argument here would not apply also to etoys?
> It does if you try to teach how the real world works by making computer
> simulations without doing experiments.
> But if you'll check out our materials carefully, we never do that. We
> always keep clear the distinction between "real math" (and the fact that you
> can do a lot of neat things with real math that are not seen in our physical
> universe (and can easily be at odds with what is seen) and thus are special
> kinds of usually consistent stories) and that of "real science" which is
> done by making careful observations of the real world the final arbiter of
> all stories (no matter how pretty and consistent they might be) we might
> make up.
> This is why when teaching children we separate the math of speed and
> acceleration (using the cars on the screen and "increase by") from
> investigations into the science of how things fall by about 4 months. This
> technique is as old as real science, was used by Newton (it's one of the
> many charms of the Principia), and both used and advocated by Einstein.
> And the other distinction with the use of Etoys is that the actual real
> math of the phenomena (whether just math on the screen of the computer or as
> a mapping relationship between observation and mathematical modeling) is
> actually derived and done directly by the children. (And in earlier grades
> this is done without computers, etc.)
> This is completely different than giving children software which may or may
> not work like the real world but at its best it is as mysterious as the real
> world was before science, and at its worst (where it is not like the real
> world) it is even more misleading.
> This is missing what science is actually about. And sadly, though we can do
> real math on the computer, we also find a myriad of approaches that bypass
> "real math" for various kinds of "math appreciation" or "math flybys" or
> "math grazings". Both of these are nicely covered by a gentle but firm
> ancient reprimand by teacher Euclid to student Ptolemy "Sire, there is no
> Royal Road to Geometry".
> I'm happy to answer questions about this vital issue.
> Best wishes,
> Alan
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Bill Kerr <billkerr at gmail.com>
> *To:* Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com>
> *Cc:* Gary C Martin <gary at garycmartin.com>; iaep SugarLabs <
> iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org>; Brian Jordan <bcjordan at gmail.com>; Asaf Paris
> Mandoki <asafpm at gmail.com>
> *Sent:* Saturday, August 15, 2009 7:38:06 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [IAEP] Physics - Lesson plans ideas?
> hi alan,
> I'm not sure how your argument here would not apply also to etoys?
> Is your objection mainly to the name of the program - physics?
> On Sun, Aug 16, 2009 at 12:00 PM, Alan Kay <alan.nemo at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> Hi Folks
>> I've previously written a fair amount on this list about what real science
>> is actually about and it would be tiresome to repeat it.
>> And I'm sure you have reasons for what you've been suggesting in this
>> thread about ways to use a simulation software package in Sugar.
>> But are you sure that these reasons have anything to do with real science
>> and how to go about teaching it to children?
>> Best wishes,
>> Alan
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/iaep/attachments/20090823/32cdf316/attachment.htm 

More information about the IAEP mailing list