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Computational vs. Conceptual: The Best Approach to Teaching 9 th Grade Physics

Computational vs. Conceptual: The Best Approach to Teaching 9 th Grade Physics. Flo Turkenkopf Packer Collegiate Institute Brooklyn, NY. So, What Am I Going To Talk About?. A brief history of “Physics First” at Packer Defining the mathematically or conceptually minded student

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Computational vs. Conceptual: The Best Approach to Teaching 9 th Grade Physics

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  1. Computational vs. Conceptual: The Best Approach to Teaching 9th Grade Physics Flo Turkenkopf Packer Collegiate Institute Brooklyn, NY

  2. So, What Am I Going To Talk About? • A brief history of “Physics First” at Packer • Defining the mathematically or conceptually minded student • Reasons for offering two separate courses • Syllabi for each course • Additional thoughts

  3. Physics First at Packer • Introduced to Packer in 1993 • From 1993 to 2002, taught as Conceptual Physics • 2002 Computational Physics is introduced

  4. Does One Size Really Fit All? • Howard Gardner: Multiple Intelligences • Mathematical vs. Conceptual Learners

  5. Two Ways of Thinking: Mathematically and Conceptually • General Examples: • What do you think of when I ask you what 60 divided by 4 is? • Moving your game piece on a Trivial Pursuit Board Examples from Teaching: • Calculating g’s on a roller coaster • Having a student tell you that their mathematical solution does not make sense

  6. Why Two Different Courses • Teaching one curriculum frustrates all students • There are different reasons for studying physics • Introduction to scientific inquiry • Preparation for becoming future scientists • Chance to understand the world around them • Strengthens the entire science curriculum

  7. So, What Do the Two Curricula Look like? Disclaimer: This is our first year with the two classes and so these syllabi are ever-changing

  8. Conceptual Physics • Topics and Projects: • Introduction to Physics • Thermodynamics: Designing an environmentally responsible home • Temperature and Heat • Conduction, Convection, and Radiation • Specific Heat Capacity • Waves and Sound: Building your own musical instrument • Wave vocabulary • Light and Sound • Using an oscilloscope to calculate frequency

  9. Conceptual Physics Continued • Mechanics: Newton’s Laws Children’s Story and Designing & Building a Roller Coaster • Motion Graphs • Newton’s Laws • Forces (especially weight) • Circular motion • Energy

  10. Computational Physics • Introduction to Physics • Introduction to scientific thought • Scientific Notation • Unit Conversion • Significant Figures • Graphing • Mechanics • Motion Graphs • Motion equations: 1D and 2D • Newton’s Laws • Forces: 1D and 2D • Circular Motion • Energy • Momentum

  11. Computational Physics Continued… • Thermodynamics • Conduction, convection and radiation • Specific heat capacity • 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics

  12. Similarities in the Two Curricula • Introduction to scientific inquiry • Basics of mechanics • Fundamental ideas in thermodynamics • Lab report structure emphasized • Technology used to acquire data • Use of computer applications such as MS Word and Excel

  13. Some Additional Thoughts • Computational Physics does not need to incorporate trigonometry. • Offering two courses should not be viewed as a tracking system. • Tailoring courses to fit students' needs works best in a school that has a culture of collaboration.

  14. A Little Summary… • For the past 8 years Packer has taught one physics curriculum, Conceptual Physics, to all 9th graders. • This past year we chose to implement a second course in the 9th grade called Computational Physics because: • We believe that there are fundamental differences between teaching the mathematically minded physics student and the conceptually minded physics student • We believe that all the students will enjoy physics more if they are taught it from the angle that is appropriate to their learning style • We believe that it will strengthen our entire science program by creating an opportunity to challenge the extremely talented physics students.

  15. Questions?

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