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Archive for the 'Physics' Category

Science Action Labs – Sciencing: Learning About the Scientific Method.

Posted by Mr. Oettinger on 15th February 2011

Science Action Labs -
Sciencing: Learning About the Scientific Method.
by Edward Shevick

Sciencing: Learning About the Scientific Method.This book is suggested for grades 4-8, but I find that there are some gems in this book that can be adapted to classrooms of any grade.

The book is organized into 23 hands-on science activities ready for student use.  I won’t lie, a number of the activities are pretty lame.  However, several that really shine will be discussed here.

Sciencing #6:
Hypothesis Lab
My favorite parts of this lab are the second and third scientific problems. 

One problem involves a pie pan with one-third cut out.  Students are asked to predict what path a small ball will take when rolled around the rim until it exits at the open end.  After discussion, students carry out this simple experiment.

The other problem involves two balloons filled with different volumes of air and connected with a stopper inbetween.  Students are asked to predict what will happen when air is allowed to flow freely from one balloon to another.

Both labs are fairly simple to do either as a class demonstration, or more ideally, as small group activities with your classes.

One can easily see how these activities can be adapted to a physical science curriculum about motion or equilibrium.  The balloon activity can even be adapted to a life science classroom discussion about homeostasis.  Or, use either of these activities early in the year as part of your nature of science (NOS) lessons.

Sciencing #7:
Consumer Lab: Comparing Paper Towels

One year, my students wanted to do a science fair experiment to compare paper towel absorption and strength.  It was a great idea, but I was a bit disappointed with their experimental design.

This book presents a fantastic experimental design that will surely improve on any students’ attempt to conduct this kind of investigation.  It’s simple and easy, and I wish I had thought of it first!

Sciencing #13:
Mystery Box Lab: Learning by Direct Evidence
This is the traditional mystery box lab in which students try to figure out what is inside a box.  This lab has the students creating their own mystery box.  A nice little lab for any NOS lessons.

Sciencing #20:
“Resilasticity” Lab or How High Will I Bounce
?
This is a nice quantitative lab in which students collect data on three different types of balls, calculate averages, and graph and analyze the data.

This is a great lab for a NOS lesson, a math or science lesson about quantitative vs. qualitative data, or simply a graphing lesson.  Every intro science class needs to do a lesson like this which combines all of these necessary science skills.

Sciencing #22:
Can You Learn To Think Metric
?
A great little lesson where students are given some exemplars of items in metric sizes, and then must make predictions about the metric sizes of various other objects.  Finally, students progress to learning how to use a metric ruler to measure things.

A fantastic lesson involving making predictions, abstract thinking, hands-on activity, math skills development, and experimentation.

_________________________

All-in-all, this little softcover booklet is packed with several duds, but also several gems.  It is readily available for fewer than $10, so go get one today.

Posted in Biology lesson ideas, Chemistry, Inquiry, Life Science, Nature of Science (NOS), Physics, Science Pedagogy | No Comments »

Just Say “No” to The Handy Physics Answer Book.

Posted by Mr. Oettinger on 11th November 2010

The Handy Physics Answer Book.
by P. Erik Gundersen

P.Erik Gundersen's THE HANDY PHYSICS ANSWER BOOK.In any economy, but especially in our nation’s current state of economic despair, prudent financial decisions are on most people’s minds.  Therefore, I feel compelled to tell my readers not to waste any money on this horrible publication.

I paid only one penny for The Handy Physics Answer Book at a second-hand shop, and boy do I wish I had that penny back!

The author of this book demonstrates a complete absence of knowledge about how to interest anybody in science (especially physics).  Just a look at the cover reveals the most trite and overused images of a prism, Einstein’s tongue photo, and a mushroom cloud.  Clearly, low-budget clip art and an unimaginative cover are no ways to gather any interest in science (or anything at all!).

Inside the book, one finds that it is filled with physics questions presented completely out of context.  The only organization is by physics topic (sound, light, electricity, etc.).

Some typical questions are:

  • “What is drag?”  The answer should simply read: “This Book.”
  • “What is a decibel?”  The answer should read: “The intensity of a scream from boredom caused by this book.”
  • “What is the voltaic pile?”  The answer should read: “The brown mess left atop The Handy Physics Answer Book by an animal who found a perfect place to poo.”

Believe me that the suggested answers are much more interesting and entertaining than the book’s answers.

In short, don’t bother with this book, it is a worthless piece of drivel, and you will be infinitely more wealthy, both economically and cognitively, without ever knowing about this horrible science book.

I investigated the claim by the author on the back cover of the book that he developed the curriculum for “Physics and Technology” in New Jersey.  An internet search turns up no information about this curriculum.  Clearly, his curriculum made no splash in the world of science education.  Not a surprise considering the awful state of his book.

Posted in Physics | No Comments »