If you want students to understand Physics, give them a few raw eggs and ask them to let those fragile, little marvels of biological engineering drop to their (almost) certain demise.
Does that make sense?
Learning isn't about being told what to believe, it's about questioning what's out there and making your own assessment of things. In the sciences, it's paramount we question things all the time and all it takes is one outlier from the norm to shake up, well, everything.
Now, for our Physics classes in Year 10 we don't go all that far in our quest for scientific enquiry just yet but we do encourage our students to learn by experimenting, be it in the lab or even - as is the case here - in the connecting bridge between our two blocks on campus.
Let's set the stage: It's Physics class with Tr. Zax and the students of 10 Voski are learning about free fall, momentum and impact force. Their task: Build a contraption which will allow you to drop a raw egg from about 20 feet without it cracking. And, to make a it a little more tricky, they can't devise any kind of parachute-ish trickery to slow down the drop either.
And away they build
Tinkering and, ahem, think-ering
Documenting their progress...
and the various designs
The slideshows for their presentations anchor the content, and allow them to chart their learning. It's always important for students to revisit their initial thought processes and to see how they've come along, both in their understanding of the subject matter as well as in their reaction to the experiment's various stages:
Why did it not work? (In this case, why did that darn egg crack?!)
What can I improve on, how come this worked now, etc. pp.
Learning by doing is one of the central tenets here at school and it goes a long way in enabling the longterm understanding of things, rather than just a snapshot of comprehension for the sake of recalling it in an exam or presentation.
And voilà, after a few further changes to their device our students came up with the final design: A pyramidal shape which spreads the impact force and a little bit of bubble wrap allows the precious cargo to remain unharmed.
The moment of truth
And the outcome...the suspense was palpable..you could cut the tension with a knife! Unfortunately, no knife could be found (safety first, guys!) to help in cutting open the egg-safety-device so it had to be fiddled with by hand. Added to the suspense though, that's for sure!
and finally...the egg's still whole. The successful scientists are all smiles, of course.
Another learning journey has come full circle: From first being introduced to the topic, to becoming immersed in the content by having to engage in it hands-on, to fine tuning the designs by way of trial and error and finally, successfully fulfilling the task at hand. It's all in a student's day here at Sri Emas.
Thank you to Tr. Zax and the students of 10 Voski for letting us join them on their quest for egg survival!