The Black Hole of Video Editing Let Me Escape So I Could Write This Post

A picture is worth a thousand words, so, using of unit cancellation method, this video is worth….

Screen-Shot-2016-04-24-at-12.54.53-PMSo I’ll just be quiet and ask you to watch!

The original goals of this lesson are outlined in the lesson plan below, inspired by the Backwards Design principal:


I’m writing this 2 months after the unit was completed, and now that I look back on the original lesson sequence, I realize how massively I departed from ‘the plan’. While the same goals were met, using the same tools, the actual assignments ended up being drastically different. The original assignments were good, and actually I’d like to just add them in. Overall, the simulation was so powerful that we really only grazed the surface of what is possible.

Algodoo challenge #1 was folded into the much more substantial “Level 1”, which shifted the focus from collaboration/sharing to learning how to use the program and interpret graphs. Algodoo challenge #2 was done, though it wasn’t very successful (and I didn’t include discussion of it in the movie above for that reason). That was mostly due to time restraints–I should have been more realistic with my time allotments (a common theme of my issues as a teacher!).

Student Work

Below is an example of a piece of student work from the “Practice Problems” assignment (not a terribly creative name, I realize):

Here is another example, this time an answer key:

Notes to my Future Self

Changes I’d make next time:

  • Start with motion in only 1 dimension (X), then motion in the other dimension (Y), then move into motion in two dimensions.
  • Explicitly teach wider range of tools within Algodoo (i.e. thrusters, destroy key, activation key, collision layers)
  • Look for other schools to collaborate with
  • Give an exemplar “practice problems” assignment.
  • Create a “virtual version” of a “IRL lab” myself, and ask students to determine a value. Then do the lab IRL and ask students to compare.
  • Incorporate Vernier’s video analysis to take advantage of student-shot video from outside-school.

Overall, this project has taught me the power of high quality simulations in the study of kinematics. I wouldn’t want someone to study physics purely through simulations, but on the other hand, I’d hate to see someone go without the rapid and precise learning that can occur with simulations. I also learned that gamifying works! Finally, I was reminded of the importance of allowing students to be creative, even in science class.

Seriously–COETAIL is over?

This program came around at just the right time for me, professionally. I’d always been pretty a tuned-in (tech-wise) teacher, but this this training has taught me to be more intentional, more networked, and more focused on transferable technological skills. I am proud to be a COETAILer and, in some strange way, will miss the Sunday afternoon posts. Thanks to Ann Durham and Paul Browne, especially, for their continual ‘checking in’ and sharing. They say that a workplace is only as good as the people in it, and I am happy to say that I love my workplace and consider myself incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the people in it.

One last bit: Science COETAILer’s, please contact me! We are very rare on here and it is a real shame! Actually, perhaps this is the birth of a new PLN/network/hashtag…. #scicoetail, anyone? Its got a nice ring to it….