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How playing on swings can help children understand physics

The Conversation – Francis Mavhunga

“What they may not realise is that they’re learning while playing. The swing allows children to physically experience a wide range of physics concepts: velocity, gravitational potential energy – the sort of energy that allows a large swinging mass to be used to break down buildings – weightlessness, period of swing and the rush of wind resistance.” (more)

One reason students aren’t prepared for STEM careers? No physics in high school

The Hechinger Report – Tara García Mathewson

“Nationwide, ninth-graders don’t usually take physics. In fact, the majority of the nation’s seniors will graduate having never taken physics at all. And Sarita’s students, Spanish-speaking Latinos attending a high-poverty school, are an even unlikelier bunch to catch in a physics lab. Physics is widely considered to be a building block for a range of STEM disciplines— science, technology, engineering and math — and taking the course in high school is strongly correlated with getting a degree in a STEM field. Educators, policymakers and the general public agree that education in STEM is important. STEM occupations, jobs data show, pay more, and employment in STEM fields has grown at a faster rate than overall job growth.” (more)

Young children use physics, not previous rewards, to learn about tools

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“The findings of the study, based on the Aesop’s fable The Crow and the Pitcher, help solve a debate about whether children learning to use tools are genuinely learning about physical causation or are just driven by what action previously led to a treat. Learning about causality – about the physical rules that govern the world around us – is a crucial part of our cognitive development. From our observations and the outcome of our own actions, we build an idea – a model – of which tools are functional for particular jobs, and which are not.” (more)

Santa Claus and Newton’s Three Laws of Motion

Education World – Leigh O. Cody

“Provide the following scenarios to students. You might cut and paste the text below and present the text to students as a work sheet. Directions: Identify which of Newton’s Laws of Motion is being demonstrated in each of the following scenarios:.”(more)

Can Hot Wheels Change the Way We Teach STEM?

Education Next – Morgan S. Polikoff

“Curriculum and standards are key research topics for Morgan Polikoff, a University of Southern California professor and FutureEd senior fellow. So when Mattel’s philanthropic arm approached him and his research partners about developing curriculum to teach science standards using Mattel’s Hot Wheels cars and tracks, they were in. The researchers developed a hands-on curriculum and professional development lessons teaching basic physics using the popular toys, then conducted a randomized controlled trial in about 60 fourth-grade classrooms in a California school district comparing student learning under the project-based and traditional textbook based instruction over three weeks. FutureEd recently talked with Polikoff about the project, known as Speedometry.”(more)

Ask 4 Questions to Choose an AP Physics Class

The U.S. News and World Report – Brian Witte

“Students considering an Advanced Placement course in physics have four options to choose from: AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism and AP Physics C: Mechanics. Each end-of-year exam – and potential college credit – corresponds to an AP class, but students may not know how to select the appropriate course and test. AP Physics 1, which is algebra-based, covers Newtonian mechanics, as well as the basics of circuits and mechanical waves. AP Physics 2, which is also algebra-based, continues with electricity and magnetism, fluids, optics and thermodynamics. Both classes and exams emphasize logic and reasoning with an overall goal of students understanding the core concepts of physics, although doing well requires basic algebra.”(more)