Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sobering thoughts on physics

Read two blogs back-to-back today which hit hard about my teaching of physics. The first article called "No credit for ridiculous answers" was one teachers experience with fostering an attitude of always checking the reasonableness of an answer. While I do this naturally in my head -- I do not do a good job of developing this in my students. I'd like them to think as I do -- with estimations, and a sense of what answers are reasonable and unreasonable, and the post showed some ways the teacher graded to develop that.

The second article describes how our physics classrooms so often become areas of plug-and-chug formula application, rather than conceptual thinking. The author describes "How we create a context of Formula worship" listing many of the dry dead questions that require no more thought than deciding which formula contains the correct letters in it - letters which I know all but one of. I saw in my past few weeks of teaching several of those questions being asked on my worksheets and my PowerPoint presentations. How come in algebra I am always teaching how many different ways there are of looking at a problem, but in physics I am always simplifying things to plug-and-chug?

On a more encouraging note -- I think my students are this week doing a valuable experience of using video analysis to determine how effective seatbelts and airbags are in reducing injury in a crash.  I had to use some interesting thinking to determine the framerate of the video -- which I may write about later.


  1. I look forward to reading about your seat-belt crash video analysis do you have a link for your videos?

  2. I'm using Tracker Video analysis and the following video:


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