Monday, September 28, 2015

Sharing of teacher growth story by leongster

Thanks to bro for sharing. Let's not just let stories go unhear but be a constant remind to grow as an educator.

Teaching physics today is very different from 10 years ago. Back then, resources were a lot more limited.  Most of the learning is done by pen and paper. The experiential learning was often limited to physical experiments using simple lab equipment. Data loggers were limited in quantity and could only be done during scheduled lab sessions. The setup of the data loggers usually is predesigned and every student will be doing the same experiment designed by the teacher.

Today, teaching is a lot more exciting. There are many tools so readily available. Students are no longer passive receivers of knowledge but active constructivist of concepts. They are able to observe nature, ponder upon what causes the motion and investigate them like a true scientist using video analysis tools.

Take for example, my 9th grade students who use a high speed camera to study the flight of the bird. She could explain the difference in the wing motion between down stroke and up stroke and account for the force generated by the air in relation to the weight. She even study the rate at which the birds flap the wings to generate more forward force to accelerate itself initially during take-off and gradually changing the wing direction since it already has the velocity and only need minimal horizontal force to continue moving at the same velocity but require the same amount of vertical force to overcome its weight. As a teacher, all I taught her was how to use the tool and newton’s 3 laws of motion but she was able to explore beyond what any textbook or website can teach based on her own interest.

The best part about technology is differentiation. Every student was analysing an entirely different video based on their own interest. I have students studying her own gymnastic backflip, her father butterfly strokes, billiard balls collision, Coriolis effect of table tennis balls. What this 9th grader did was what I couldn’t imagine doing even when I was in the university.

In addition to video analysis, I’m now able to design games, simulations to observe phenomenon that was difficult if not impossible to setup.

I think open source physics is the key to moving education forward. Without the video tracker and easy java developed by universities professors for free, physics education would not be able to move at the rate it is currently moving. I would like to thank Lookang, Professor Wolfgang, Paco and Douglas for offering their shoulder so that we can see further.