Next Generation Educational Goal-Background
Under the Framework for K12 science education, practice 5: modeling and mathematical and computational thinking are among practices which are not only essential for learning science and engineering in grades K-12 (NRC, 2012), but also usually not emphasised in Singapore schools. This practice 5, allow students to strengthen their explanation of the ideas of the natural world and growingly important is the prediction the likely behaviour of a system. Open Source Physics (OSP) simulation and its growing digital library of physics models support and enrich this practice of developing progressively complex models for computational modeling and thinking (Wee, Lee, Chew, Wong, Tan, in press).
OSP (Christian, Esquembre, & Barbato, 2011) is a National Science Foundation funded project NSF DUE-0442581 that provides tools and resources for interactive computer-based modelling. Different from largely non editable simulations which are commonly used by teachers in teaching science, computer-based models using OSP enable teachers and students to create and use the free tools with the associated intellectual property rights given to customise the computer models or tools to suit their learning context and instructional needs (Wee & Mak, 2009). With ease of further scaling up educational practices beyond the timeframe of this proposed funding, we use this tool because of the following advantages and they are (1) open source codes and creative commons attribution licenses for scaling up of interactively engaging modeling practices, (2) models made using OSP can run on almost any device through internet browser on the operating system of Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS and Linux, and (3) next generation pedagogical practice of modeling is made possible and feasible to all (Wee, Lee, Chew, Wong, Tan, in press).
Tool1, Tracker : Connection to Real World Tool
Student often only believe the physics of the real world thus the use Tracker, a video analysis and modelling tool aims to allow students to investigate, explore, analyse, and interpret data which are real, as the video are usually short clips on real world physics. Learners can construct their own initial ideas-models using the dynamic particle models function in Tracker to test their ideas-models in using Newton’s 2nd law to represent the physics concepts in the video (see Figure 3).
physics of Frisbee motion
this model suggests the Frisbee motion is a non-uniform acceleration motion in both x and y direction.
vx = 7.0 m/s
vy = 5.05 m/s
fx = -2.804E0*t^2+7.713E0*t-7.861E0
fy = 3.977E-1*t-4.819
author of video: Cheryltan
author of model: lookang
Figure 3. Non-uniform acceleration of a Frisbee visualized and modeled using Tracker using the following variables when they have the usual meaning: x = 7.0 m/s, vy = 5.05 m/s ,fx = -2.804E0*t^2+7.713E0*t-7.861E0, fy = 3.977E-1*t-4.819
Tool2 Easy Java Simulation (EJS): Complementary Modeling ToolWe propose that teachers to help students learn by designing modelling function added to EJS simulations for ease of getting students to represent their understanding (see Figure 4).
Figure 4. Simple harmonic motion simulation with model building capability added note that the model created by student is X = 0.5*t (teal color) which does not match the simulation model of X = 2*sin(t), created using Easy Java Simulation
This approach has the advantage of optimum cognitive loading as oppose to getting students to navigate within the EJS authoring toolkit environment which is more suitable for talented learners and teachers.
We will attempt an end to end integration of these tools for a wide spectrum of the K9 to K-12 (NRC, 2012) syllabus, depending on the composition of the teachers who volunteer themselves to be part of this funding. We will only focus on the modelling aspect as we believe teachers are already somewhat familiar with science inquiry approaches but not the practice 5 : mathematical and computational thinking manifest as modelling within the Tracker and EJS tool.