Rolling out Mt. Gravitation: A T-GEM experience

From a previous post in the ETEC 533 course blog, I laid out a lesson plan that followed the T-GEM TELE format, titled “Conquering Mt. Gravitation”. Because I have an arguably unhealthy relationship with Prezis, I couldn’t resist to embrace another Prezi opp…

So this week, the T-GEM version of Mt. Gravitation was officially rolled out!!!!

Using the PhET Gravitational Force simulation as a data source, students were required to discover the relationships between the dependent variable, Gravitational Force, and independent variables, mass and distance. (Note that the image below can be manipulated with your mouse.)


In previous versions of my project, students were “fed” the inverse square relationship, as opposed to discovering it through experimentation. Also, the process of determining the Gravitation Constant, G, was much simpler since students were instructed to plot F versus m1m2/d^2, which provides them with the value of G directly from the slope. In the new version, the slope is actually equivalent to Gm1m2, and students are not directly told how to obtain G.   Also, throughout the new version, students are asked questions that guide their understanding, as long as concluding questions that test their understanding.  Without question, in the true spirit of T-GEM, the new version provides multiple opportunities for students’ thinking to be challenged and for them to be comfortably “uncomfortable”.

Although my students are still knee deep in the process, most students are on Part 4 of 4 and are inches away from computing G from their slope. They have yet to take on the challenge of the modified questions and I suspect that I will need to provide some guidance here. Although Part 4 is proving to be very conceptually difficult, the first three parts went very well, from an independent learning perspective. I was most impressed with the students ability to determine the inverse square relationship between Force and Distance, with very little support from myself.   As this is our second major graphing endeavor using spreadsheets, students’ digital confidence has improved immensely.

This Friday, will be our fourth and final class day that is devoted to this lab. In the original version, I would have one less day, as it was less complicated and with fewer questions.  Doing the “right thing” definitely can be a class, time sucker!  I know that many students are still unsure of themselves, so it will be interesting to see how the Modification step of T-GEM plays out.

Seeing as this is my first time out of the gates with this version, I have decided to obtain student feedback on the process and to have students do a reflection piece. I am not convinced that this lesson is bulletproof, in that I think it may be possible for students to complete the process and still not understand the concepts being presented. Without question, Mt. Gravitation is still a work in process!

Link to the Google Doc for this activity:

1 Comment

Filed under ETEC 533, T-GEM

One Response to Rolling out Mt. Gravitation: A T-GEM experience

  1. Dana Bjornson

    This is the first time I have formalized a reflection piece with this class. This is what I put on my Google Classroom:

    Gravitation Simulation Blog Reflection
    This reflection will have three components.
    1. Your reflection: A response to one of the questions listed below.
    2. Comment on two posts from your classmates’ reflections. (two different students— the goal is to have at least ONE comment on everyone’s post.)
    3. If someone replies to your post, it is your responsibility to respond to their comment.

    How to “Turn in”:
    1. Use Word to help you with editing, then copy your response into the blog under the Reflections page.
    2. After posting, include a link to your blog post on this Google Classroom (GC) assignment, then hit “Turn in” on GC.

    Assessment criteria: Fully answer one of the questions below, in full sentences. Minimum 200 words (no maximum). Response should be thoughtful and detailed, should full credit be desired. Replies to classmates’ posts should be thoughtful, positive, encouraging— overall a positive tone. I will also be looking to see if individuals have responded to their classmates’ comments.
    ***Humour is not banned, although it must be in good taste and respectful, should you wish to use it. Blog posts can be conversationally written, however, it is also important to watch your spelling, and produce a document that portrays you in a positive, academic light. Disrespectful comments/posts will be removed and potentially brought to the Administration’s attention, should individuals use the blog as a platform to be mean-spirited.

    Reflection Questions: ****only respond to one.****
    1. Did the simulation activity clear up any misconceptions you had about Gravitational Force? Please list what they were and what you now know to be true.
    2. What did you like about completing a virtual lab as opposed to a “real” lab and why? In general, what aspects of virtual labs do you not like and why?
    3. Now that you are finished or nearly finished this inquiry activity, what do you now understand about gravitational force and what parts of the activity do you still not understand? Did the lab activity create any “a-ha moments”— in other words, what part of the lab was initially confusing, but then you finally understood?

    Here is a link to the Reflection Page, although I just assigned it this morning (April 7, 2017):

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *