The Blindfolded Challenge

So I am trying to teach Physics using Modeling this year, but I haven’t had a Modeling workshop (yikes, bad, I know!).  I really like the concept and I’m trying to learn as much as possible about it as I attempt to implement it this year.  I found out about Modeling just before school last year, it was my first time teaching Physics, Chemistry, and Precalculus, so I decided not to tackle Modeling.   I wasn’t happy with the way I taught Physics last year.  For one thing, it was my smallest class, and I only had one period of it (as opposed to two of the other two preps), so I felt like I didn’t put in the time to make as good a class as I did in the other two classes.  Now that I have one year of teaching Physics under my belt, I want to change how I taught it, and Modeling looks like the best way to do that, except for the fact that I haven’t attended a workshop (didn’t have time this summer…).

So my first question is: What can I do to learn as much as possible about Modeling before I mess up royally and ruin these children’s futures?  I’ve been, but I don’t know if becoming a member of the AMTA will help me with the materials since I haven’t attended a workshop, although I used the sample pack on Constant Velocity to structure the way I taught my first two weeks now.

So I really wanted to get the buggies, but didn’t get really interested in Modeling until the day before school started (I know, great planning…), at which point my Physics lesson plans were quickly becoming obsolete.  I wanted to get the electric buggies that I read about, but I didn’t want to spend the money just to get them shipped quickly, and have them possibly not arrive in time for the lesson.  I checked the local Wal-Mart (the only store around with the possibility of having something like this), and the closest I got were these cheap remote-control cars which did not work well at all (too much acceleration and top speed, ironically).  So I decided to wing-it and had students figure out their velocity while walking at a constant pace (and no, they had not learned what these words meant before going out to measure their velocity).

Well, then what do you do for the “Buggy Challenge”, where you have 2 buggies of different velocities measured, take the buggies away, and then tell them the distance the buggies will be apart from each other, and then have them collide?  Well, we obviously had to blind-fold the students or they might cheat and one would walk faster just to meet at the “right spot”, but wouldn’t it be dangerous to have two students run into each other blind-folded (although possibly very hilarious)?  So we decided to have them walk by each other and “high-five” each other, which turned out being fairly hilarious in itself.  The group members were allowed to tell them to walk left or right, so that they didn’t run into each other, and both groups solved the problems in two different ways as I asked, which turned out being great.  I think that the students are really starting to get the connection between their data table, motion diagrams, P vs T graphs, V vs T graphs, equations, and verbal descriptions.

I am excited about the rest of this year, but I really should figure out whether I want to re-invent Modeling myself (highly improbable), or get a Modeling curriculum from somewhere (where?).  Thank you for any and all input!!


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