Introduction


This project presents a physics unit that incorporates technology into teaching about kinetic and potential energy. It is intended for inner-city teachers, showing them how with relatively few technological resources and low cost, they can incorporate relevant technology into instruction in a way that effectively enriches students' experience. The unit uses digital video, images, and a simulation program to present real-world examples of potential and kinetic energy at work in the world. This is a supplement to in-class discussion and practice problems that apply the information learned.

Below, we discuss both the unit we would be presenting for the professional development and the ways it is tailored to suit the audience of teachers in schools with little funding and few resources. The unit is presented in detail, as is the presentation we designed via web-cast for the teachers' in-service.



The Topic & Standards


This topic is designed as a unit of physics for Introduction to Physics and Chemistry ( ICP). ICP is primarily taken by 9th grade students that are unsure of which science curriculum to pursue when entering high school or are not deemed ready for the more advanced honors courses such as chemistry or biology. Since it is the transition year for students entering high school from middle school, it is considered a transition course to enable students to bridge the gap between middle school style teaching to high school science instruction. ICP is designed to incorporate many hands-on activities and draw upon science examples in the students daily lives.

Therefore our lesson plans were developed to:
  • Teach the concepts of Kinetic and Potential energy through the use of commonly known tools and events such as skateboards
  • Involve the students directly in the exploration by using a physics simulation of a skateboard park in lieu of lecture
  • Employ video of dams and building demolition to tie together the concepts of Kinetic and potential energy.

The standards for the lessons were developed by researching those standards prepared by the National Science Education Standards, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), The Ohio Department of Eduction K-12 Academic Content Standards, The Frederick County Public Schools Science Standards, and Prentice Hall Physical Science Concepts in Action. We distilled these standards and provide them in the following section.

Students will be able to:
  1. Describe kinetic and potential energy and provide examples of each
  2. Calculate kinetic and potential energy
  3. Describe Work and Power in terms of Energy and provide examples of each
  4. Solve problems involving energy and work
  5. Recognize common everyday activities and describe them in in terms of kinetic and potential energy and Work and Power
  6. Explain how an object can have both Kinetic and Potential energy at the same time
  7. Understand Conservation of Energy and be able to verbally describe the transfer of energy form one form to another.



The Setting and Context


The setting for our project is center city high schools in Philadelphia, PA. The promise of a "wired town" with tech literate graduates by the former mayor has not been delivered. Students continue to fall further behind the digital divide if their families’ standards of living are below median levels.
Schools in Philadelphia are governed by a five-member School Reform Commission. The shift to this organizational structure occurred in 2001 when the Governor of Pennsylvania took responsibility for the school system from the City. The Governor appoints three members to the Commission while the Mayor of Philadelphia appoints two members. This has been and remains a controversial issue.
The City of Philadelphia School System is the 8th largest in the country with over 150,000 students. It operates 171 elementary, 25 middle and 61 high schools. Each school area is defined as a “Catchment.” The at-large ethnicity of the student population is as follows, although these will be higher or lower within individual Catchments:

Ethnicity
Percentage Enrollment
African-American
58
Asian-Pacific
7
Caucasian-European
14
Hispanic
18
Other
3
Total
100

Budget cuts, political entanglements, union regulations, an aging and failing physical plant, entrenched teaching styles and malaise have left no money for improving science teaching in High School. This is especially true in 9th grade Introduction to Chemistry and Physics (ICP). Since academic ambitions are low, most students take the required two science classes, earth science and then either biology or ICP. Classes are small and schools are not crowded since parents with more financial capability have opted out of the system for one of the two academic HS in the City, Charter Schools or private schools. By default, the classes are generally populated with students marking time until they can both quit school or graduate and "get a job." The average student sees no correlation between science and their ability to survive on the streets and/or make money.
In many, but not all cases teachers at the high school level retain their jobs through tough union rights. The enthusiasm they initially brought with them to teaching has been continually crushed by a red-tape burdened, politically driven machine. The few teachers with sparks left often keep their initiative and successes to themselves so they will not suffer embarrassment or harassment by their peers.

In our scenario, it is the summer start of the new fall term. Teachers are performing their two weeks of mandatory in-service prior to the start of the fall term. The Superintendent of Instruction has just announced that the entire Instructional Budget for equipment and supplies is on hold until December 1st. Travel staff enrichment and training budgets are also on hold until December 1st. New city, state and federal requirements and revised existing guidelines require a total of 50 hours of training and briefing out of 80 available hours for teachers during the two week in-service period prior to the start of school. The traditional fall trip for science classes to Atlantic City to study amusement rides has been canceled due to potential legal concerns.

In summary, the main hurdles are:
  1. An entrenched, unwieldy and large bureaucratic central administration,
  2. Lack of funding for science equipment,
  3. Lack of funding for travel and teacher training,
  4. Extremely limited time available for teachers for self-improvement and new curriculum development
  5. Who really is the student and lack of enthusiasm by existing teaching staff for attempting "anything" new, and
  6. Cancellation of the one "fun" activity for science class.

The plan to overcome these hurdles is presented in the same order as the hurdles above and is as follows;

1. An entrenched, unwieldy and large bureaucratic central administration: Overcome the bureaucratic central administrations resistance is critical to implementing (our program). The key to unlocking the door may be an existing Teacher’s Education program at Drexel University. This program is designed to create and retain STEM Teachers in the Philadelphia public schools. Drexel University has a long history of excellence in science and engineering and would be a natural partner. Drexel offers 12 BS degrees in Science and Math Education and includes use of technology as a key tool in their training. Following is their program description:
"The program in Teacher Education uses university-wide resources to prepare fully qualified teachers at the secondary education levels in various subjects of certification. The program applies the microcomputer in teaching and learning, and it is the only such program in the country to incorporate a six-month paid internship in industry related to the student’s area of certification (for example, a prospective chemistry teacher might co-op at a chemical company)."
The goal to train and retain STEM teachers across local, regional and national political lines and support among the parents and citizens of Philadelphia provides our entry point into the school system.

2. Lack of funding for science equipment: Offer “low-budget” physics/science lessons using readily available YouTube videos, traditional lecture and problem solving, discussion and two labs, one traditional with inexpensive materials generally available and one computer simulation. The cost for the three lessons is very low compared to more traditional or expensive laboratory equipment. Additionally the skate board simulation will be very relevant to center city students at a 9th grade level.

3. Lack of funding for travel and teacher training: Focus our plan to show how low-level physics, i.e., 9th grade, can be taught in a center city format. Our plan to use a web cast format and focus on the center city 9th grade science teachers allows them to attend training in a cost-effective and time-effective method using technology we understand is readily available in most if not all center city schools - receiving web-casts. By using this method we can effectively multiply the number of teachers impacted by dozens if not more than one hundred over the traditional method of holding a meeting at one school and inviting teachers from other areas to attend

4. Extremely limited time available for teachers for self-improvement and new curriculum development: Additionally, the web-cast can also be put on YouTube and/or Teacher Tube to be shared. This could be the start of a whole series of online lessons. All the resources are free except for basic equipment required. We're also showing how students can get their hands on technology in a way that's game-like enough to hopefully be fun and still educational. I think the trickiest part of selling this is going to be how we can build teacher enthusiasm without an actual physical presence, but we can really emphasize that this is easy and cheap.

5. Who really is the student & lack of enthusiasm by existing teaching staff for attempting "anything" new: Essentially we have two target learning groups, the teachers and their students. We wish to introduce the teachers to the use of videos to enhance learning. Additionally, we want to show the value of using science simulation programs in lieu of more expensive laboratory equipment or resorting to only text readings or lectures. With these skill sets the teachers can then extend the use of these new skills to other lesson plans. They may even be able to conduct their own web casts, with each school taking on the challenge of creating a lesson plan for a topic and presenting to the other schools via web-cast.

6. Cancellation of the one "fun" activity for science class: Cancellation of the field trip is a big blow to the students. Finding a 'replacement activity' at least in part may be met by the "skate board park” simulation since most, if not all, students have seen or tried a skate board. Offering the hands on simulation provides the "fun" activity.

Our Role as Consultants/Web Cast Coordinators


The primary role we will serve is as the consultants working with Drexel University and the City of Philadelphia School System. We will make the initial contact to both Drexel and the City of Philadelphia to offer the program and seek an opportunity to meet with the appropriate parties in the University's Science Education Department and the City School System Division of Science Instruction to outline the program and its benefits to both organizations. Further we will maintain the role of lead consultants to push the program forward upon acceptance. We envision this would require meetings with both the University and the City.

Additionally, we would develop the webcast and play the lead role in the webcast although introducing active players from both Drexel and the City Schools in the webcast would be critical for transition to a self-sustaining program. The webcast would be broadcast simultaneously to all science teachers in the City's 61 high schools during the summer pre-school start-up. We envision a follow-up role meeting with representative "training teachers" (a select key group of 10-12 teachers) face-to-face at several key points such as one week following the web-cast, one week prior to the first implementation of the unit and one week following the implementation of the program. Additionally we would be available for questions or comments from the "training" teachers as needed.

We would therefore maintain an online database of questions and answers, as well as a library of links to articles and videos that discussed the use of simulations in teaching and learning. We would also provide resources on using computers, troubleshooting, and use of basic programs like the Microsoft Office suite. They would also address issues of privacy and copyright. These resources would be available through the city schools' intranet.

Here are some samples of resources to which we might refer teachers:



The Materials and Technology Tools You will Need


Our premise is that we will focus our plan to show how low-level physics, i.e., 9th grade, can be taught in a center city format. Our plan to use a webcast format and focus on the the center city 9th grade science teachers allows them to attend training in a cost-effective and time-effective method using technology we understand is readily available in most if not all center city schools - receiving web-casts. By using this method we can effectively multiply the number of teachers impacted by scores over the traditional method of holding a meeting at one school and inviting teachers from other areas to attend. By offering “low-budget” physics/science lessons using readily available U-tube videos, traditional lecture and problem solving, discussion and two labs, one traditional with inexpensive materials generally available and one computer simulation, the cost for the three lessons is very low compared to more traditional or expensive laboratory equipment. Additionally the skate board simulation will be very relevant to center city students at a 9th grade level students.

The final simulation assumes use of a small computer lab where students can work in small groups such as two- four students ideally. This would assume about 6-8 computers in a small lab. Since the simulation is free from the University of Colorado this further reduces the entry cost barrier to the Lessons. If the number of computers available is less than the desired 6-8 students could be rotated through in shorter shifts diagramming their results and recording their observations. If only one computer is available the lesson could be held as a teacher demo with students allowed to "assist" the teacher with running the simulation

Essentially we have two target learning groups, the teachers and their students. We wish to introduce the teachers to the use of videos to enhance learning. Additionally we want to show the value of using science simulation programs in lieu of more expensive laboratory equipment or resorting to only text readings or lectures. With these skill sets the teachers can then extend the use of these new skills to other lesson plans. They may even be able to conduct their own web casts, with each school taking on the challenge of creating a lesson plan for a topic and presenting to the other schools via web-cast.


The Implementation & Assignments


First Video is controlled building demolition demonstrating conversion of potential to kinetic energy

Second video is hydroelectric power demonstrating conversion of potential to kinetic energy

Conservation of Energy Lab.pdf
Determine if the following situations have mostly potential or kinetic energy.docx
Energy Problems.docx
roller coaster video cover jacket.pdf
Roller Coaster Physics.docx

Energy Skate Park
Click to Run
Skateboard Park Simulation




The Lessons


The lesson plans and supplementary materials, along with information about our project, will remain online at a stand-alone websitecreated using the Wix free web builder. This makes them accessible to any other teachers who want to use them, and allows the teachers who participate in the professional development to re-familiarize themselves with all the pieces of the lesson plan in a single, multimedia environment. As we mention above, the presentation of the lesson plan at the professional development session would be done via webcast, and the webcast would also remain online so that it could be viewed by a wider audience, consulted at a later date, and so on.


Webcast

The webcast that would share this information with the teachers in Philadelphia would be fairly bare-bones and focused on explaining the rationale and advantages of teaching the lesson. The factual steps of the lesson plans are laid out on the Wix site, and supporting materials are also included there. So the focus of the webcast is motivational and persuasive. That is, it aims to encourage teachers to attempt the lesson plan and to use the principles that drive technology integration in this lesson when they are designing lessons of their own. Key points are detailed within the paragraphs explaining each lesson plan, focusing on the benefits the use of technology provides.

The Unit

Overall, the goal of this unit is to teach students about kinetic and potential energy, using the simulation, lab, and video and photo content to help students contextualize the information they are processing. We know from current educational theories that making connections between pieces of information helps students retain and synthesize the information. We are also basing this on the principle that learners are more likely to be engaged and interested when content relates to the world outside school. For this reason, we have incorporated both images and video of real-life situations demonstrating potential and kinetic energy. We also include the culminating lesson using the skateboarder simulation, which presents an interesting and entertaining way to experiment with the concepts. The simulation is versatile, interactive, and a bit whimsical. It allows students to experiment on their own with the concepts, while working toward their learning goals in the classroom setting.

Lesson 1: Kinetic and Potential Energy

This lesson gives students their first grounding in the subject matter for the unit. In this case, technology is used to illustrate real-world examples of how these concepts work and why they are relevant. The skateboard simulation, which is introduced here, will be used later in the unit to give students a chance to manipulate and measure the amount of kinetic and potential energy used.

Grade Level
9th grade
Topic
Physics - Kinetic and Potential Energy
Objective
  • Students will be able to explain the difference between kinetic and potential energy.
  • Students will perform calculations about work and power
  • Students will understand the relationship of work and power calculations to potential and kinetic energy.
Warm-Up
The teacher will show students photos of a dam in a river, a skateboarder, and a skyscraper. The class will be asked to think about how these things illustrate kinetic and potential energy. This will be followed by some more discussion of the dam itself, and a video of a building being demolished. The teacher will discuss the release of kinetic energy during the demolition, asking the key question: Where did the potential energy come from to allow that release of kinetic energy?
Direct Instruction
The teacher introduces students to the skateboarding demo, and shows how the demo allows you to graph the energy being used.

The teacher then goes over several sample problems and questions with the students. Students are then asked to complete some in-class practice problems. The teacher will then go over the answers, using this as a formative assessment of students' understanding. After identifying any problem areas and addressing them, the students will move on to the conservation of energy lab (see link), which will put into practice some of the principles just covered.
Closing Activity
Assignment: lab write-up
Assessment
Formative: Going over students' answers to the in-class problems allows the teacher to identify areas where they are having trouble. Also, teacher should actively talk with students during the lab about the process they are studying in the lab and how it ties in to the lesson on work.
In this lesson, the initial images prompt students to think about real-life situations that involve kinetic and potential energy. The lab offers a kinesthetic learning experience that gives students a literally hands-on opportunity to see the concepts they are studying at work. By beginning with the lab, and then elaborating on the concepts in later lessons, we provide a context for future learning.

Lesson 2: Energy

In this lesson, the students begin to explore kinetic vs. potential energy, building on what they have learned about energy, power, and work. They apply this knowledge to a physical scenario by relating it to the roller coaster video. Again, the technology provides an opportunity for students to see the concepts they are studying in action.

Grade Level
9th grade
Topic
Physics - Kinetic and Potential Energy
Objective
Students will perform calculations about potential and kinetic energy.

Students will be able to identify how potential and kinetic energy affect real-world situations.
Warm-Up
Students answer a short set of questions about yesterday's lab.
Direct Instruction
Students work in groups on a set of questions about kinetic and potential energy. They will also complete a worksheet identifying which kind of energy is being used in various scenarios. The teacher will then go over this with the class, again assessing understanding and addressing any knowledge gaps.

Then the teacher shows the roller coaster physics video, which the students will follow along with using their viewing guide. Following the video, the teacher will ask students to present their answers to the questions on the viewing guide and will facilitate a discussion of why those answers are correct.

Students then complete another set of energy problems, synthesizing the information from the previous class with their new learning.
Closing Activity
At the end of class, the teacher returns to the skate park demo and asks the class to respond to a few brief questions about how this relates to their study of energy. As homework, students are asked to find three pictures that represent kinetic and/or potential energy and explain in a short paragraph why and how the type of energy is represented.
Assessment
Formative: Students are asked to read their answers to the questions in class, and discussing the answers reveals gaps in knowledge.

Summative: The final classwork worksheet will be graded to measure students' understanding so far.
This lesson focuses entirely on relating real-world events to the information students are learning. The roller coaster video gives students another context for applying the concepts they have learned, and the return to the real-world examples allows them to engage with the concepts in new and different ways. They also get a glimpse of the skateboard demo, to prime them for what will be coming. Doing their class work in groups allows students to discuss, which provides some extra scaffolding for those who are struggling as well as giving those who understand the concepts the chance to cement their understanding by synthesizing and presenting the information to someone else.

Lesson 3: Skateboarder Simulation

This lesson offers students a chance to interact directly with technology that allows them to apply the principles they have been learning to a familiar real-world situation. They also have the chance to explore more independently and can resolve their own questions in this way. This will help the students to visually and kinesthetically understand how the unit's concepts are related to motion and power in their everyday lives, and how these can be manipulated.

Grade Level
9th grade
Topic
Physics - Kinetic and Potential Energy
Objective
Students will be able to explain how the concepts of kinetic and potential energy relate to the skateboarder simulation.

Students will be able to explain how changing the amounts of kinetic and potential energy will affect the simulation.
Warm-Up
Students complete a short quiz that assesses knowledge so far. At the end of the quiz, students receive the key to enter the skateboard simulation.
Direct Instruction
In the computer lab, the students are asked to go to the skateboarder simulation. The teacher goes through various manipulations of the simulation with the students, asking them to explain how each relates to their study of kinetic and potential energy. For instance, the teacher asks what the effect of friction has to do with kinetic energy.

The teacher presents some practice problems, first showing the students how they are completed, then asking the students to complete them as a class.

Students are given a set of activities to complete with the skateboard simulation within a specific time limit. They are asked to work in groups of 2-4 students (depending on class size and computer availability). These activities function as the unit's final assessment and are collected and graded.

Activities:

The assessment should end at least five minutes before the end of the class period. The teacher then leads a discussion of how this simulation changed the students' understanding of kinetic and potential energy, asking about whether it helped and why or why not.
Closing Activity
A final assessment of the unit is conducted, with some questions involving the simulation and some general problems.
Assessment
Formative: The teacher and the class work with the simulation together, giving the teacher the opportunity to identify any problems of understanding.

Summative: The final test assesses the learning of the students throughout the unit, and is graded based on their success in manipulating and interpreting the simulation and on assessing their knowledge of the topic.
The final lesson focuses on the simulation, which is a great learning tool because it is actually fun to play with. We both spent some idle time sending our skateboarders to the moon and outer space, and we think students will also find it fun. This is a huge asset because it promotes engagement, but also because it encourages students to play with the tool on their own outside the prescribed activities. The assigned activities, then, are basically there to give them some specific goals and to make sure the necessary learning is addressed. The lesson is fairly flexible because students can share computers and work in groups if necessary; the demo itself is free and easily available.


Assessment


Assessment of our lesson involves two components. First, we need to assess teacher participation in the lesson, which can be done using a simple survey. Ideally, this would be expected of teachers and supported by administrators, but we know that each school is a different place with different issues, so we would need to measure how successful our webcast was in motivating teachers to use technology in the classroom. A survey might include the following questions:

1. Did you use the skateboard lesson plan in your classroom?
2. Why or why not?
3. What did you like about the lesson?
4. What changes did/would you make to it?
5. Did you use other technologies in your classroom? Please list/describe them briefly below.

Although there is much more information we would like to gather, this would give us an initial idea of our success and we could refine our tactics in future years. In addition to testing whether teachers used the simulation, we would track science test scores both city-wide and comparing schools that did and did not use the simulation.

The other component of assessment would be the in-class assessments of student learning. These would be conducted by the teachers, and are described above in the lesson plans.

References


Lunsford, A. A. (n.d.). Our semi-literate youth? Not so fast. http://www.stanford.edu/group/ssw/cgi-bin/materials/OPED_Our_Semi-Literate_Youth.pdf

Yerrick, R., Ross, D., & Molebash, P. (2004). Promoting equity with video: In the curriculum, science. Learning & Learning with Technology, 31(4), 16-19.

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning.//**Educational Psychologist**//, //**38**//(1), 43-52.