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Dressing up an everyday lab with capitalism

November 20, 2010

I’ve been very impressed with how Ellena over at Teaching|chemistry is able to make labs and quizzes a bit more interesting by framing them as exercises for a fictional company. Here’s an example she shared with the wonderful scido collaborative.

So, on friday at around noon, fresh out of ideas for my 1pm lab, I thought I’d try this idea out and see if I could use it to dress up the most boring of labs—finding the coefficient of friction. Here’s the result, which took about 10 minutes to write:

View this document on Scribd

I was amazed at how enthused the students were to take on this challenge. They loved the letter, and actually seemed to be excited about the idea of writing a lab report, which is something I’m really needing to work on with them, since they’re improving so much in discussion, but we really haven’t focused on moving that into careful record keeping of their work and written explanation of their conclusions.

So on a bang for the minute scale, this represents one of the easiest and most powerful improvements I’ve made to my physics course. Once again, inspiration from the teaching community on the interwebs saves the day.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 20, 2010 3:54 pm

    Very cool! Did you use lab partners or groups for this?

  2. November 20, 2010 3:58 pm

    I used 3 or 4 person groups, and told them them they would need to turn in individual notes (so they could claim the patent), but 1 group summary.


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