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Cool Math/Physics Lessons For 7th and 8th Graders?

  1. Jan 13, 2013 #1
    I tried to post this in the education section, however was notified I do not have access to do so? My apologies for any inconvenience.

    Anyways, my sister who is a 7th and 8th grade mathematics teacher wanted me to come in and teach a lesson (I suppose because she's bored and I'm a Math/Physics major.. o_O)
    and I was wondering if anyone had any neat concepts or ideas I could show them?

    I'm pretty sure they are just learning fractions, rationals and irrationals and factoring (7th) and slope (8th).

    It's tough for me because I've been dealing with upper level mathematics and would love to show off that, however, it clearly would be moot. So any ideas or demonstrations of math/physics I could show them?

  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2013 #2
    (apologies for late response, I'm an occasional troller of this forum only)

    I recall seeing a TV news show once that showed a couple of clever teachers "breaking the mold" of science / math / physics teaching Jr. & Sr. High School students. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but a couple of examples:

    Example 1:
    The lesson was on F=ma. They put a car in a big flat parking lot. Car in neutral. Two students pushed on the rear of the car. Each student pushed on a bathroom scale which was placed on the trunk lid of the car. Their goal was to each apply a constant force to the car. As the car accelerated the two pushers had to move faster and faster to keep up with the acclerating car and maintain constant force. A chalk mark was made on one tire. Each time the chalk mark circled around to ground level another student called out the time-from-start and another student recorded the time. After the exercise they charted the results and estimated the mass of the vehicle.

    Example 2:
    Fuzzy here, but if I recall correctly: a "paddle" was constructed of a (for example) 1' X 8' piece of plywood. Upright 2x4's were nailed perpendicular to the plywood surface and a cross bar nailed to the uprights. Two students were placed at the end of a swimming pool and used the paddle to push into the water surface and create a cyclic wave action in the pool of varying frequency. Somehow (don't remember exactly) this was used to illustrate sine/cosine wave forms and physical wave action of certain frequencies. I vaguely recall a student was stations at the pool mid-point to measure the wave crests.

    In the age of the internet I'm sure one could find plenty of examples of classroom exercises like this.
  4. Jun 21, 2013 #3
    It doesn't matter if they can't do all of the calculations. You can set it up so that major calculations are already done so it simplifies it for them. (Do show the formulas/equations so that you aren't dumbing it down, which is disrespectful.) Then just get them to do the calculations they can do.
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