Our working group began by discussing the potential of integrating the study of physics and mathematics. Our goal, determined the first day our working group met, was to develop a series of activities which use principals of physics to demonstrate the mathematical content taught at the secondary level. We wanted these activities to be engaging for students and require them to think deeply about mathematical concepts. We felt it also important that these activities not require extensive background in physics for the teacher or the student, nor should expensive "high tech" equipment be needed.
During the first week we spent our time exploring the physics behind a variety of common events; we called this our "playing time." Eight student activities emerged out of this exploration that we developed into written lab activities to be included on the PCMI web site. Each of these labs includes an explanation of the situation and setup, procedure, student work sheet, and notes to the teacher. Most also include photographs to help clarify procedure and set up.
Six of these eight activities were completed during our three weeks in Park City with the Mathematics Institute. The remaining two activities (Bouncing Ball and Beans in the Classroom) will be completed during the coming year and submitted for posting on the PCMI web site. We also plan to use these activities as a pilot with our students in the next school year.
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