Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beginning a Learning Partnership

We will have a meeting for middle school parents on Wednesday this week and I want to have a student help me explain some of the new directions we are taking. Jon is an eighth-grade student who enjoys science and wants to learn more. Ms. Theberge thought that he would be able to learn quickly and be confident enough to share on such short notice.

We met last Friday during Community Enrichment Time (CET) to make a plan. I had hoped that he would be able to bring his laptop home over the weekend so that he could learn to use the data logging and analysis software that MLTI installed on all computers. At that meeting, he told me that he could not do that because students cannot bring home computers until after the parent meeting. Foiled.

When I told Ms. Koch the story on Monday morning, she said, "We have a computer that we could loan to him for this purpose!" So, I quickly installed the required software and she delivered it to his math class. He returned this afternoon for another session to prepare for Wednesday evening. He seemed pleased to have had the opportunity to work on the project at home. He could not find the video tutorial so he figured it out on his own. He looked at the help menu but did not realize that further down the page they provided links to additional information. Despite these challenges, he was able to create the trace of a foosball bouncing on a hard floor.

We compared his experiment to the simple simulation that I created 7 months ago (click on the image to go to the Scratch site where you can interact with the project and download it to revise and improve it):

Scratch Project

Now that we have more insight from our research, I can see ways to correct some over-simplification in my simulation!

We reflected that he had been able to make considerable progress on the challenge. That he had exercise ingenuity to solve some problems. That he enjoyed the 'hard fun.' That there are opportunities to improve his initial attempt. That he should keep a copy of his first try so that we can look back on the experience to see the progress that he/we are making. He has a soccer game this afternoon so he won't have as much time to repeat the experiment but will try.

I wonder if he will think about bouncing soccer balls in new ways as a result of this work?

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