1. Hey Derek. I really enjoyed your effective use of Sway and Scratch–two programs that I have yet to use. I agree that although students know about friction, it is a misunderstood mechanism, especially when they try to make vehicles! I get a lot of large wooden dowels pushed through small wooden holes that are so misaligned that the thing can’t even roll! I’ve never done a T-GEM type lesson on this–always post morteum, which is a terrible mode for feedback!

    I’d love to hear how they do pre- and post- lesson in terms of their designs. What conclusions do they come to? Also, I’ve never found a good interactive that allows the user to control for hardness of the materials, have you? This would make a huge difference in understanding rubbing friction. Finally, do you talk about bearings at all? Although they are a great solution, I find that students have a hard time seeing the difference between rolling and slipping friction.


  2. Hi Derek

    I like the fact that you used Sway. I like how the instructions can be integrated with scratch–that way students do not have to have two programs open at the same time.

    I wonder if students can input their answers etc into sway and then submit them to the teacher.

    A good next step might be to share other simulations that are available with sway and scratch.


  3. Great use of Scratch. I am always looking at new ways to integrate it with Science and this is an excellent example. Just out of curiosity, what process do you use to build your students up to a level where they could program something like the friction example you used in Scratch? I use Google CS First but I am always on the lookout for new tutorials to try and motivate my students to learn Blockly.

  4. Hi all,

    Michael – The second PhET simulation I included is I think the best one I have found so far for my purposes. In terms of initial engagement, I have found having kids play Mario Kart is a great way to get them thinking about concepts related to acceleration and friction in vehicles. All of the different characters and surfaces have varying characteristics which the students attempt to observe and explain. We do talk about bearings and different types of friction but focus on rubbing friction because it is something they can actively adapt in their designs

    Christopher – I went to a few Microsoft PDs this school year and they said they are trying to expand the embedding capabilities in Sway to facilitate creation of more seamless and diverse presentations. This would allow for more applications that allow for student feedback to be integrated.

    Nathan – This is something I’m still figuring out. In the last couple of years, I have started by having them code a game with instructions. They then either create their own game, or if they are not ready, alter and customize the game they made. By the end, many are somewhat capable but only a few get to a level where they can be independently creative. I will look into the Google CS, thanks for the suggestion.


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