Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reconciling knowledge and application

I only have about 15 minutes to blog today, so I'll go with the old saying of a picture paints a thousand words. This means that technically this post is uber long!

Yesterday I talked about the need to reconcile academic knowledge with application to increase the meaningfulness. (Post here - Stripping, romance and learning in context). Below is an example of how I attempted to do so.

Here are some photos from my spin (special interest, once a week for 90 minutes) megastructures module from last year. Students spent the term learning about different forces (shearing, torsion, etc.) and how these apply to different materials. They also learnt about distributing load. And then, they used all this knowledge to construct a bridge out of dried spaghetti, marshmallows, play dough and cello tape. To ensure that students really thought about the forces, they had a 90 minute session to plan their bridge and justify it in regards to the science they had learnt. Students also had extremely limited resources however could earn more if they were able to justify using scientific vocabulary. We then used weights to test (and break) each bridge with students then having to explain why they bridge broke using their new knowledge.