Saturday, December 3, 2011

Problem Based Learning Approach

Energy runs the world. Its present everywhere, all the time, in all sorts of forms. Physics experiments were conducted by class IX dealing with potential and kinetic energy. Their task was to calculate the amount of potential energy taken to climb 5 flights of stairs with only a meter stick and stopwatch to aid them. All the groups approached this task in an interesting way although they all made some errors. Group 1 for example used the distance instead of the displacement of the stairs in their potential energy formula which resulted in a few mistakes in their final result. But they got a chance to fix their mistakes in their report under the section ‘error minimization’ and all the students learned from their mistakes.

At the beginning of the experiment the groups were a little unsure of how to approach the situation but as they progressed they were able to more confidently proceed. By the time the groups started the second experiment which dealt with kinetic energy they were more creative with their thinking methods and became more adaptable to a non-textbook approach. The errors in the methods thought of by the groups also greatly decreased by task 2. Almost all the groups carried out the experiment correctly. This time they were challenged to calculate the amount of kinetic energy taken by each student to run a distance of approximately 50 meters.

At the end of both tasks all the students had to write a report and reflect on their task. Many of them stated that they very much enjoyed this deviation from regular textbook learning in class. All the students of class IX gave positive feedback about these experiments and are eager for more to come. A hands-on approach is always better for a student’s learning than memorizing out of a book. It keeps their interest and they have a better understanding of the topic. A student from Group 2 stated “These kinds of experiments help us to understand and learn the concept more than the textbook ever could by memorizing word by word paragraphs.” So all in all these experiments were a success and the Oakridge students greatly enjoyed them and hopefully there will be more to come.

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