Video Story Problem – Foucault’s Pendulum

Apr 18, 2014 by

I hesitated to share this video story problem that I created at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Although poking fun at myself, it does concern me that I ask the right questions to at least get learners headed in a direction with vocabulary and a frame of reference that will actually lead them to success. I haven’t been in the classroom for a few years now (teaching full time that is; I still visit and work with students on a weekly basis), so I had to ask some of my well respected friends in the world of science education if my video story problem about Foucault’s Pendulum even made sense. I’ve never been great at higher math and mathematics-based physics (I earned a solid C in my advanced calculus-based physics course in college). So I was nervous to ask what seemed to be far too simple a...

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Video Story Problems Go Hollywood

Mar 6, 2014 by

There’s been a lot of traffic on Twitter and a few blogs (some of them quite prominent in the education world) about the Video Story Problem concept that I’ve been toying with the last few years. It helps that I’ve had plenty of educators and students helping me with it, and as of today we’ve collectively produced almost 200 videos that help capture math (and a little bit of science) in the real world to be brought back into the classroom. So it’s with no small measure of humble gratitude to many educators out there sharing my ideas that I have an opportunity to present the concept in Los Angeles this weekend. I’m headed out to the Milken Community High School in Los Angeles to lead a couple of Video Story Problem workshops at the Playful Learning Summit being held there. I’m a little nervous, but hopeful for a good day...

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Videos as Formative Assessment

Feb 23, 2013 by

I have this little project going over on Vimeo called the Video Story Problem Channel, and up until now most of the teachers involved have been creating a lot of really great student-created videos based around actual math from the real world (video from restaurants, home improvements stores, four wheeler races, etc.). Recently, I’ve been dabbling more with science-based videos, and wondering if there isn’t a way to encourage students and teachers in disciplines outside of the typical math classroom to latch onto the idea of creating videos of curiosity to help provide some learning experiences that are slightly more authentic than what we find in a text book (paper or digital). With that in mind, I created a short video in an attempt to provide a prompt for talking about viscosity. I intended to have the video serve as a prompt that might engage students to start thinking about what...

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Using Harlem Shake to Teach Physics

Feb 19, 2013 by

I’m not going to pretend that I remember enough about my high school physics to speak intelligently about the difference between  centrifugal and centripetal forces, but I do know a good piece of teachable media when I see it. When you introduce a brick to a front-loading washing machine spinning at several hundred RPMs, you get something both destructive and magical. If your mind works in similar ways to my own, you most likely giggled a bit, guffawed a lot, and then started thinking about what a great visual piece this is for students! They get to see a little destruction (popularized by shows like Mythbusters), laugh at the absurdity of it, and then have this wonderfully discrepant moment of a washing machine thrashing about on the ground because someone tossed a single brick into the rotating drum. I can’t even begin to fathom the great leading questions that students could generate from watching this in a physics...

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Video Story Problem – Newton’s Laws of Motion

Mar 15, 2012 by

Late last summer I went on a video-binge, capturing so many video story problem concepts that my iPhone and Flip cam regularly ran out of battery power before mid-afternoon snack time. While recharging and importing all of the videos to my laptop, I dumped all of the videos in folder, which I mostly forgot about until recently. Most of the videos weren’t terribly interesting after looking at them a second time, but a few stood out, particularly one I took from a playground at an elementary school somewhere in the middle of the “thumb” area of Michigan. The playground had one of those “zip line” pieces of playground equipment, and I couldn’t resist a chance to zip across the playground. It reminded me of my intern teaching, when I put together a small project, asking the students to share examples of Newton’s Laws of Motion in the real world. At...

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Video Story Problem – Water, Friction, and Force

Oct 27, 2011 by

In my never ending quest to find an engaging way to bring the real world into the classroom, I captured some video of my children and I playing with one of those massive rolling granite sphere water fountains. I’ve never really been intriqued by the tiny little desktop versions of these fountains, where a small amount of water is able to “float” a tiny granite sphere the size of a baseball, and then allow it to rotate freely. The stones usually fit in your hand, and the entire effect seems clunky and obvious. However, when you come across a stone sphere that’s more than half your height, and most likely weighs several hundred pounds, you realize there’s no possible way any one person could cause it to move or rotate with one hand. Yet all it takes is a little bit of gurgling water to set it in motion, and...

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