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Insights An Accurate Hooke's Law Laboratory - Comments

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  1. Jan 10, 2019 #1

    Dr. Courtney

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  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2019 #2

    anorlunda

    Staff: Mentor

    That is a thoroughly enjoyable article. Thank you @Dr. Courtney.

    I never did well in laboratory lessons in school, and I thought they were boring. Perhaps if I had a teacher who so clearly explained what we were doing and why, as you did in the article, that outcome may have been different.
     
  4. Jan 15, 2019 #3

    Dr. Courtney

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    I have to confess, for my first 5 years as a teacher, I used canned laboratory exercises that had been written by others that had many of the flaws you mention. Student engagement was low due to the lack of excitement and interest, so the care they exercised and the learning they accomplished also tended to be low. I also viewed the point of the lab as reinforcing material from the lecture.

    Eventually, I shifted in my view so that the main focus of labs became understanding and applying the scientific method itself. This naturally caused me to desire greater accuracy, since an experiment with 1% errors tests any hypothesis more rigorously than the experiments with 5-10% errors that I had been doing. I think the biggest part in motivating accuracy is showing it can be achieved with due care at a few important points along the way. But one also needs to avoid labs and equipment where the learning curve is just too steep for most students to have accurate results. Consequently, one needs to be content not having a lab that corresponds with every chapter in the book.

    These days, I write my own labs and before being overly confident in student ability to achieve results, I pilot the experiments myself and also check out the lab equipment carefully. It is extremely demotivating for students to be expected to have accurate results using faulty equipment in the compressed time frame of most lab experiments.
     
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