Curiosity using Pendula

Topics: Physics  Mechanics  Harmonic motion  Curiosity  Questioning  Authentic Questioning  Motivation  Strategy  

Grade Level: University

Context: outside of classroom, written InkSurvey responses given as questions to a prompt  

Overview: This lesson asks students what questions they have after viewing a video which shows multiple oscillating pendula of increasing lengths going in and out of synchrony.

Learning Objectives: To be able to generate questions in many of the categories found hereEnhancing Curiosity Using Interactive Simulations Combined with Real-Time Formative Assessment Facilitated by Open-Format Questions on Tablet Computers procedure=1. Students view the video prompt and then submit questions labeling the category in which each questions falls. They are given a small amount of credit for genuine effort in completing this task.

2. InkSurvey Question: What questions, with an appropirate category label, do you have about the oscillating pendula video found here
3. Use the "sort" feature to select responses in the different questioning categories.
4. email to the students or discuss in class the student responses you sorted. You may have to generate questions in categories for which there were no responses to illustrate such questions.
5. The students could then be asked to do the exercise again to practice generating more questions in the different categories. They could also practice being fluent (different aspects of the same idea) in a particular type of question.
6 email to the students or discuss in class the total sorted responses and ask the students which of the questions might be fruitful in (1) generating a new scientific research topic (2) generating a new product for a company


Students are asked to view the prompt on different days to facilitate the generation reflective responses.

Refections on how this has or has not changed practice? How has this changed your thinking about teaching?

I had to generate questions in the modifying category such as “Could you make the same effect with masses on springs and if so what would be different between the each spring mass system?” Also in the causal/creative category I generated the question “What happens if the masses move close to the speed of light?” These questions were the most chosen as ones which would lead to a product and a research topic.

This exercise really gave me insight into how students think. I was surprised that most didn't understand that they were being taught a model of how the world works. Also surprising is that they had difficulty applying what was taught to something new yet not very different from the course material.