Inquiry and Play

Part of the change in physics this year as we move towards helping those who need energy is that the students need more freedom to create. This has caused me to use a lot more inquiry than ever. What has been great about this is I have been giving each cycle of inquiry time to unfold. One thing that I have noticed is that students, like adults, dig right in when they have a challenge at hand. It is only when they are asked to produce a final product that they go back and structure up their work.

I think this is good. I think we call it play. Playing is really imagining the world as something different than it is. Eventually that is what my students will need to do. They need to imagine a world where poor schools in Nicaragua have lights, fans and CD players. Before they can do that they should probably be allowed to play qualitatively with some temperature probes and immersion heaters. So that is what we did today. We played. We got used to the new equipment. We learned how to avoid spilling on our laptop and we started experimenting with what we might do when we formalize our experiment. And what is the goal of that experiment? For that you will have to keep reading.

For now suffice to say that I was happy as a clam all day helping kids play with physics equipment. We learned a lot of qualitative conclusions. But I was shock how the great subject of thermodynamics reared its beautiful head early and often. Groups called me over and asked why the boiling water was not raising its temperature. You cannot pay for moments like that. Plus when the real experiments come the students all will have gotten a lot of the ugs out of their systems, all from playing with the physics. A great day.
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I've been thinking about trying to use inquiry a lot more in physics this year too. We'll see what happens when it starts in December. Proj. Jadrich had an excellent sectional that kind of turned me on to inquiry at CEA.
I have the notes from the session. My friend from school Sam went to it and loved it. Sam gave me a copy of the notes and a mini lesson. I sort of want to invite Jadrich to come and talk science with us at school some time.
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