Student Scientists

Please read this guest blog post by physics teacher, Nicholas Polito. He had his students do Videolicious projects. He was very pleased with the outcome.

One of my favorite mini-projects in my physics class is the spring constant lab. This hits on two of my personal objectives because it not only allows nearly all of the TEKS within the energy unit, but it also forces students to be the scientists. The lab consists of heterogeneous groups of three or four that are given a projectile launcher. Their task is to find the spring constant (a measure of the amount of force required to compress/stretch a spring a certain distance) of their launcher with the goal being to be as close as possible to the actual spring constant. Throughout this entire experience I tell them that I am no longer their teacher and can now only assist with lab equipment and that they have any equipment in the room at their disposal. There are a wide variety of ways that the spring constant can be measured and I require that they figure out and carry out two of these methods. Last year I had the students write a lab report and found that, although their discussions in the lab were very scientific, their writing reflected very little of the science they did and got bogged down in the nuts and bolts of their lab. I want students to better be able to talk about what they did using science concepts learned in the class so I looked to the iPads. The Videolicious App turns some people away because of the 50 second limit, but this was very appealing to me. With only 50 seconds to talk about both of their methods the students could not get bogged down in the minute details without going over the allotted amount of time. The resulting products were fantastic and showed the learning and science that they did in the lab much better than the lab reports from last year. I am looking forward to being able to incorporate this technology every so often when it shows the potential to enhance the students’ learning.

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