Speculation and Exploring Explanations

This Thursday’s task was to choose one of the following three questions and attempt to answer it using your knowledge of Physics.

What would happen if:

a) Everyone on earth jumped at the same time?

b) The sun was blue?

c) The moon were bigger than the earth?


Students were put into groups and told to pick a question they wanted to answer. All three questions were chosen (some more than once). Students have not formally learned the physics required to fully explain these concepts.

I was amazed at some responses, and found that some students couldn’t care less about Physics. One student began teaching her group how gravitational pull would change the rotation of the earth and explaining how we would orbit the moon. WOW! Talk about previous knowledge – why did she only do mediocre on our first unit test then? On the other hand, a student who generally scored very high grades in science and math could not even make a prediction, even after probing questions.

I want to improve my instruction with this project – and for the student with high previous knowledge, I can see the confidence growing that wouldn’t normally occur. However, for the student who is generally good in sciences, I can see that he is struggling with the ‘more important’ part of science – the qualitative (coming from the quantitative). How can I reach them both without compromising?


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