I’ve found the most difficult part of this final project is not what I thought it would be. I had originally anticipated the horror of video-logistics (gathering sufficient footage, storyboarding, filming, editing, etc.) would be the most challenging. Instead, I am now running into a very different sort of problem: Considering the implementation of this unit complete and moving into documentation and reflection phase.
Originally, I had planned on overhauling our Kinematics unit (about 9 lessons) using Algodoo, a “physics sandbox engine“. It seemed pretty ambitious and it sufficiently “Redefining” to me. But the Kinematics unit came and went–we used it as intended, as well as ‘opportunistically’ whenever the need arose. It turned into one of my favorite go-to-tools when I wanted to give a demonstration of something and didn’t have the apparatus. Its ability to produce real-time graphs was unbelievably useful. Combine this with the ability to adjust a single parameter (i.e. mass) without changing any other variables (i.e. surface area, frictional coefficient, volume) and you have a tool that could literally replace all hands-on mechanics experiments!
And here comes the problem: Algodoo fits even better into the next unit, Dynamics! One of my favorite (and newly discovered, by a student I might add) features is the ability to “Visualize Forces”. Teaching students to draw free-body diagrams which display all of the forces acting on an object is totally fundamental to dynamics, and Algodoo can display them automatically, real-time, and even scales them according to the size of the force!
So I’m now in position that I don’t love, but that I am getting used to: Considering what I have done to be good enough, even though I could work on it forever. With a mid-April due date, I need to come to terms with calling the project “finished” and documenting it, even though in reality we will use the tools, skills and technology right until the last day of class. A happy problem, really–this just means the end of the year is near!
Stay tuned for more! And do yourself a favor: Go download Algodoo and have some fun.