For our meeting, we were asked to develop two physics lessons that incorporated computational thinking and would elicit students making skills. Initially when we were given the assignment I was feeling a little bit of anxiety around the open-endedness of the task. As a physics teacher, I design lessons on a daily basis but I am loosely following a curriculum sequence that has been created for me, usually by a textbook.
It was inspiring to see each person’s creativity and expertise highlighted in their activity. One of the lessons was having students create a mobile using the physics concepts of torque and center of mass. Another lesson was inspired by nature and had students build and test the strength of a bird’s nest.
As my group was working together to determine which two lessons of the seven we had in front of us, we kept coming across the same problem – how can we make this a more open ended and relatable question. Lots of physics concepts directly connect to students’ lives and experiences; however sometimes it can be more of a stretch. We all loved the idea of squishy circuits in which students can use play dough to conduct electricity in a circuit, but we struggled with turning the squishy circuits into a maker activity that is open ended and connected to real life (we will have to come back to the drawing board on that one!)
My participation in this research project has brought a new energy to the work I am doing in my classroom. I have been teaching for 7 years in the city of Chicago and for most of that time I have been the only physics teacher at my school. I enjoy thinking and creating with this diverse group of individuals gain knowledge and activities that I can bring back to my classroom.