Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

COOPERATIVE LESSON PLANS

Jerry Snowhite

Brooklyn Technical High School

August 1998

. DESIGN CHALLENGE

Your team is to determine the area of a given circle without using formulas such as:

Area = pi x radius squared. Or Area = circumference x diameter/4. [9-12 Content Standard A- Design and conduct scientific investigations]

The answer must be given in the metric system. [Content Standard Unifying Concepts- Change, constancy, and measurement]

You may not use PI or any estimation of it unless you can find it experimentally..

The circle will be a round plastic disk from the top of a coffee can. Do not damage it.

You may, however, trace it, or otherwise make a copy of it...

You may then play with the copy.

There are at least four radically different ways to approach the problem, one of which may be done as a computer simulation. [9-12 Content Standard G- Historical perspectives]

You may use any materials that you wish.

Possible materials: plastic disk coffee can, paper, graph paper, string, pennies, water, sand, salt, balance, graduated cylinder, scissors, rulers, books on mathematical history...

Products:

A written statement of the methods used to determine the answer

A written log describing the process and evolution of your progress and thinking.

Do not forget to list all the brainstorming ideas.

A presentation to the class [9-12 Content Standard A- Communicate and defend arguments]

Evaluation:

neatness

accuracy

creativity

elegance

completeness

humor

integrity

ability to work together as a group [Teaching Standard E- Nurture collaboration among students]

DESIGN CHALLENGE: Pendulum swing like the pendulum do ….

Your team is to design a pendulum that will swing back and forth exactly ten times in one minute. [9-12 Content Standard B- Motions and forces]

Materials: string, assorted objects, stands, stop watch, balance, metric stick, graph paper ….. [Teaching Standard D- Make science tools accessible]

Products:

A demonstration of your pendulum [9-12 Content Standard E- Abilities of technological design]

A written statement of the methods used.

A written log describing the process and evolution of your progress and thinking.

Do not forget to list all the brainstorming ideas.

Your "setbacks" as well as your successes must be documented. [9-12 Content Standard A- Identify questions/concepts that guide inquiry]

A graph of your results. [9-12 Content Standard A- Use mathematics to improve communication]

Conclusions about how a pendulum behaves [9-12 Content Standard A- Formulate explanations and models using evidence]

Identification of independent and dependent variables

Statement of how you would set about to design a pendulum that will swing back and forth exactly ten times in one minute.

Evaluation:

neatness

accuracy

creativity

elegance

completeness

humor

integrity

ability to work together as a group [Teaching Standard E- Nurture collaboration among students]

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

My research on the ion channels in a plasma membrane relates most directly to biochemistry, but includes many basic chemistry notions such as the polar nature of water, molecules of hydration, electric fields, proton tunneling, etc.

For the first time in my life I have had to keep a notebook, in order to keep track of what I was doing. This simple tool impressed me with its effectiveness.

I wish to express my sincere appreciation to my research mentor professor Dr. Michael Green for sharing his time and expertise with me.

I very much need to thank the Research Corporation and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation for their support and generosity without which this project would not have been possible.

I want to express my gratitude to the entire team at Columbia University and the Summer Research Program for Science Teachers for their guidance; especially to Mr. Jay Dubner for his belief that science teachers can be good scientists and better teachers; and to Dr. Samuel Silverstein for his unending work of bringing science teachers and researchers together.