This page last changed on Jun 01, 2009 by kbell.


Overall goal

Intuitive kinematics. Be able to relate physical motion to position and velocity graphs in one and two dimensions. Students need to relate a description of motion with the actual motion and with graphs first in one dimension and then two.


The big question for the entire 6-8 weeks is to understand how forces cause things to move. The first step is first two weeks that develop ways to describe and summarize motion. This lays the foundation for the subsequent introduction of force in two ways: by becoming familiar with velocity and the change of velocity (which is what a force does), and by introducing position and velocity vectors and vector decomposition (which will later be applied to force vectors).

Specific California standards for weeks 1-2

8PC1.a. Students know position is defined in relation to some choice of a standard reference point and a set of reference directions.
8PC1.b. Students know that average speed is the total distance traveled divided by the total time elapsed and that the speed of an object along the path traveled can vary.
8PC1.c. Students know how to solve problems involving distance, time, and average speed.
8PC1.d. Students know the velocity of an object must be described by specifying both the direction and the speed of the object.
8PC1.e. Students know changes in velocity may be due to changes in speed, direction, or both.
8PC1.f. Students know how to interpret graphs of position versus time (and graphs of speed versus time) for motion in a single direction.


The following is a list of electronic feedback that teachers will receive.

  1. Progress data. Reports where students are in the project.
  2. Basic indicators of effort: attendance, time logged in, total time, number of poor answers (none, too short, nonsense).
  3. Inquiry index. A measure of how systematic students are in inquiry tasks.
  4. Basic automatic performance measures. Results from embedded assessments and homework based on multiple-choice questions. Include number right, number of tries/amount of help required.
  5. Basic performance measures that require teacher scoring. Short answers. Annotated graph and model snapshots.
  6. Specialized automatic performance measures. Results from numerical questions, KI tasks using Principle Maker, and graph interpretation skills using Smart Graphs.
  7. Game scores. Where there are games, the final score and level achieved.
  8. Results from conceptual probes. Data on conceptual understanding obtained by having the teacher ask all students to respond to a question.
  9. Lexical analysis. This would be automatic analysis of student responses that could indicate their writing skill level and accuracy of response.
  10. Technological performance. Data on load times, failures, and other performance indicators. (While of primary interest to the project, teachers will want to know the extent to which technology has interfered with each student—to evaluate the accuracy of the modern "the dog ate my homework" excuse.

Actions that teachers can take

  • Assign activities based on student results
  • Whole class activities—lecture, demo, discuss.
  • Conceptual probes. Send a question, collect responses, share what students generate, and discuss.

Available Technology

  • Games: SURGE. This is Doug Clark's DRK12 program that will use MW to implement games very much like Paul's original ThinkerToys. Doug is contracting with CC to modify MW. He is delighted to have LOOPS use these. There will be a space theme and various challenges involving force and motion. Arrows show various forces and velocities.
  • Probes: Force and motion. This provides compelling hands-on labs. We will use the well-tried sequence from position to velocity to force with pairing of human and inanimate motions. We can use Smart Graphs for output analysis. This can have a game-like feel, too, in which students earn a score that depends on how closely they match a target graph by moving in front of the motion detector.
  • Hanging with Friends: position-velocity graphs and motions. This models linear motion and provides practice with d = r*t.
  • Treasure hunt: vectors add. Students move vectors to explore how they sum and are decomposed. This may need some smarts to tell whether the vectors are connected tail-to-head.
  • Video analysis: Students track the motion of objects, converting physical motion into graphs.
    MW activities. The classic problem of the force a table exerts on a mass can be understood with a MW model of a nano-table. We can also model friction at the atomic scale to provide a causal explanation for friction.
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