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Evaluation Notes: 27 January 2005

We arrived at 2:20 and realized that school does not end until 2:40. At 2:40 we began setting up video equipment. One of the mixers had velcro over the hole for attaching to the tripod foot, so we did not use a lapel mic on that camera. On the other camera we couldn’t get audio working until I switched the audio to “On” on the lapel mic (a full 45 minutes into the session). Therefore, our audio for this session will be poor.

Eighteen students showed up. Several of them were very enthusiastic about the science concepts as well as about the activities. At least some of them had a basic understanding of friction and gravity. They knew that friction causes moving objects to stop. Some students said energy made things move; one student said that force is a kind of energy that made things move. Another student mentioned inertia and described that. The same student suggested that IFFEG should be used when talking about why things move: Inertia, Force, Friction, Energy, and Gravity.

We took about 20 minutes discussing why things move and why things stop moving. At that point we let the students mess about (not mess around, as I accidentally said, to the delight of many students) with model cars we had built. The students were very excited to play with the cars. Many students just pushed them to see how far they would go. When the ramps were setup they began pushing them up the ramps to see them jump. We eventually remedied this problem and had the students run the vehicles down the ramps. We still did not get through to the students, I think, about what makes the cars go and what makes them stop. Many students approached us, however, and asked about ways they could upgrade their cars: angling the chassis, attaching fans, using surgical tubing instead of rubber-bands, etc. We told the students they may get those opportunities in later weeks.

After about 30 minutes of messing about we eventually herded the students back into the classroom. A very brief discussion was held in which I asked the students to think about what made their cars move and stop. As suspected many students had not really thought any more about the topic.

We then handed out the instructions for making the car and the materials. For the remaining 40 minutes the students built their cars. All in all the students worked well in their groups. Many groups did not want to build the cars exactly as per the instructions. We had one group design with what looked like an airplane wing; one group had the top piece of foam-core angled so the chassis looked like a wedge. No groups tested their designs in the hallway. I am not sure what will happen when we ask them to predict what their design will do and explain their results.

Last modified 28 March 2005 at 1:01 pm by Jason Williams