This year we are treating all of our teachers as C.E.O.s, or Chief Educational Officers. Almost invariably, when one pictures a C.E.O. conducting business, a board room with a large conference table is the setting. In Mrs. Tipping’s AP Physics class, however, a “board meeting” takes on a more literal meaning.
During this particular iteration, students began by graphing data from yesterday’s exploration onto large white boards. Students had previously conducted experiments with their own shoes to investigate the concept of friction. By plotting the force of friction versus the normal force for shoes with a variety of soles, they were able to determine various lines of best fit.
Once everyone had their graphs and equations prominently displayed, the board meeting began. Students looked around to other groups and commented on other students’ boards, looking for similarities and differences. Students hypothesized about anomalies in the data and constructed meaning from available information. Ultimately, a pattern emerged that could be described mathematically. Rather than copying an equation for the force of friction from a textbook, these students developed their own using scientific inquiry and reasoning.
When the students return tomorrow, they will be using their calculations to determine which team of students (wearing those same shoes) will win a tug-of-war. That should certainly demonstrate the strength of math and science.