I am really gateful to Geoff Schmit (@gcschmit) for his feedback yesterday. I realize now that my students will absolutely do a messy job of writing up their labs. I want them to do so this weekend, but on Monday when they get back we will plot our graphs on large whiteboards and agree via intellectual consensus on what the slope and the intercepts mean. What I mean by “intellectual consensus” is probably along the lines of a baby version of peer review. Science is not a matter of voting on the idea that people think is correct. Nevertheless when a group of people discuss ideas in a scientific context they ask critical questions of those presenting ideas. Members of the group may restate or challenge stated ideas to make them more rigorous or plainly stated. This process is done in most modeling classrooms with whiteboards, and I feel much better equipped to facilitate a discussion.
Today we finished up taking data for the buggy lab. I had students start at the end of the ruler and take data (4 positions and 4 times) as the buggy moved from the end of their meter stick to the origin.
Something interesting happened today. Students began asking me questions about the procedure that began with the words “Should we…”. It was almost as though the wanted to say, “We want to…” but were afraid I would forbid it or not give them permission.
This is one thing I really want them to unlearn. I want them to explore ideas by taking risks. I want them to come to point where they feel comfortable saying, “Let’s try this and see how it works.”
This will not be easy, but I look forward to the challenge.