Saturday, November 17, 2012

Impulses Reflection

 Just a random dinosaur that has nothing to do with this post but a student included in their paper saying:    "this is also important"
Recently I asked my students to write a short essay on the concept of impulse, and how they had experienced different types of "personal" impulses in their lives. Below are some snippets of their responses, which mainly revolved around the difference between quick and gradual impulses. First, let two of my students explain what impulse is:
Impulse is a change in momentum. The equation is Force multiplied by the change in time. The change in time is important because a large amount of time causes a gradual change in momentum.  A short amount of time gives a sudden change in momentum. With more time, there will be less force. With less time there will be more force. With less time, the force is more painful.
As a formula, impulse looks like this:  $\Delta p=F\Delta t$  Another student shared a concrete example of the different types of impulses:
A car braking gradually for a stop sign would be an example of small force acting for a long time, and a golf club hitting a ball would be an example of large force acting very quickly.
After a brief introduction, I asked the students to think about their personal lives and describe what sorts of changes have occurred, and describe them in relation to impulses. Many of them shared responses of loved ones who had passed away, perhaps because I lead them in that direction when I described incidents in my own life as examples. I have been touched by both types of impulses with my mom passing away after many years of fighting cancer, but also with sudden unexpected deaths, with my aunt, a friend in middle school, and most recently the wife of a colleague. Below is one quote of a gradual passing that reminded me a lot of my own mother:
It didn’t happen too quick to the point we weren’t expecting it, so we were ready and prepared ourselves for it. Then when she did pass we weren’t devastated but happier for her that she finally got to go home.
I struggle some times with feelings of guilt because I did feel happier after she died. Don't get me wrong, I shed many tears too, and still do at times now eight years later, but I felt some freedom and release when she was no longer struggling in pain, and needing constant care taking.

The other common response was that day-to-day living and growing up was a commonly described gradual change in their lives. One described his reading and re-reading of a particular book and how each time he read it he learned more about he justified sin in his life. This lead to continual refining and sanctification. At other times he described his life being punctuated with quick periods of growth, most notably after attending several youth conventions.

A lot of times these day-to-day growing changes are hard to notice, because they happen over such a large amount of time:

An example of a more gradual change in my life is growing up in general. I don’t notice change from one day to the next but I look different than I did last year or the year before that. It takes a long time to notice any change, but it does happen. Although it is more noticeable when you are younger you are still changing a little every day.
That last observation is so true! As I've gotten older it has become much harder to notice changes in my life, but my kids seem to be changing drastically! Another student reflected on growing up and described:

Recently, I have looked back and noticed how much my friends and I have grown. We all gradually matured. Growing up was a slow impulse that changed the motion we were heading, and none of us noticed we were in the process of growing until one day we realized, “Wow, we are so different than who we were.”

I''ve done this reflection exercise twice now in physics class, and both times have appreciated the responses the students gave. Both times I've felt nervous describing the assignment, fearing the students would find connecting a physical concept to their personal lives as forced, or hokey. But twice now the students have responded with sincere thoughts, and I have been encouraged to continue to make personal connections and spiritual applications to the concepts we study.  One student described this reflection process:
The joy in life is to find the changes and see what improvements we have made in the areas in our lives that need working on.
It's important to reflect on growth. Just the other day I found a journal from my first two years of teaching and was amazed at some of the things I used to feel and think, and how they have changed. I was also amazed at what hasn't changed.

Oh, and maybe the dinosaur at the top of the page was actually very relevant, instead of just a random addition to a students paper. Did they die out gradually or suddenly? But I think that's a post for another day.

Has your life been impacted more by gradual changes or sudden events?

1 comment:

1. I felt happier after Mom died too- for that same reason. I was so relieved that there was no more suffering, and i rejoiced in knowing she was finally with the Saviour she so longed to see. I love you!

I love this assignment. I think this is such a cool opportunity. Showing how the physical world really does apply to us. Also, it is a great opportunity for you as a teacher to get to know your students on a new personal level. This is so very cool. Thanks for sharing- I wish i could have done this assignment when i was in your class!!