Reflection: Diverse Entry Points Speed Demon Investigation (Part 2/2) - Section 2: Explain/Extend


Using math to teach physics is considered best practice. However, the level of complexity involved with using mathematics can create a significant barrier to student learning of physics concepts. It is tempting to disentangle the math from the physics to promote student learning, however there are several strategies that can help scaffold the mathematics:

1) Provide students with opportunities to use "clean data" or data that is fabricated to be easier to manipulate. For example, when calculating the speed of a car, give students data sets like:

A car travels 55 miles in 1 hour and 110 miles in 2 hours. What is the speed of the car?

This "clean data" allows students to practice calculations using whole numbers and shorter division rather.

2) Start simple and progress to complex. Once students master "clean data", give them structured practice with more complex data sets. Depending on the level of your students, data sets might include decimals, opportunities for long division or order of operations.

3) Allow students to collect data and calculate using their own "dirty data" (decimals, inaccurate measurements, etc.). By using "real" numbers, students can start looking for patterns and errors; practice using calculators; and become more comfortable with decimals, significant figures and rounding of decimals.

4) Create structured graphic organizers with example problems as shown here Speed Demon Investigation Math Notes.

  Diverse Entry Points: Providing Scaffolding for Mathematics in Physics
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Speed Demon Investigation (Part 2/2)

Unit 5: Forces and Motion
Lesson 9 of 18

Objective: SWBAT design an investigation to practice calculating speed/velocity.

Big Idea: Our class mascot, Bob, wants to get to a local water park. Can you help him?

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