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Separate and Equal

I had a good time the last two weeks shifting schedules and experiences around for my physics students.  There was a very good reason for this shifting. Two of my 3 physics classes had the opportunity to share the physics of sound with 4th graders from Swanson Elementary.

It's always a struggle when it turns out that some of your students will be able to have a special experience that the others won't.  There was a similar experience earlier this year when we had a different collaboration with Swanson.

So what is a teacher to do?

It's times like these where some of the greatest physics experiences come in.  I'm able to step out of activities that feel like they have a product that is for assessment.  The end product of the student work will be for them to share or simply be a challenge that will integrate some learning that deals with physics. It's enrichment.  It's not about introducing new content, but extending that content. There's nothing wrong with a more challenging problem set as enrichment.  But, this is enrichment that doesn't require an answer key!

So what does enrichment look like?

When some of my students were preparing their sound presentations for Swanson, the others were studying new content on mirrors and lenses. When the students who did the sound presentations covered the content on lenses and mirrors, the other students were learning about programming Spheros to play mini-golf and how 3D movies work.

The students creating sound presentations were able to dig deeper into their understanding of sound in different areas including:

What is a Sound Wave? A pressure wave as demonstrated by the power of the Airzooka on willing subjects!

Makey Makey and LittleBits Synth Kits to show how to produce sounds electronically.

 Students created their own Pear Deck presentations to walk students through other sound phenomenon like the Doppler Effect and Resonance.

The Spheros were something brand new for me.  But, they were very exciting.  On day one, students worked on pairing them with their iPads and getting the hang of the Golf app and the programming app.

Day 2, students set up a mini golf course to program their way through.

Most things end up going full circle.  so, it makes sense that we will be taking the Spheros back to Swanson to explore coding and physics with the 5th graders.

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