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Friends and Family Assignments

Friends and family assignments were first implemented by a graduate teaching assistant, Michele Crowl, to promote informal science teaching and learning experiences. These assignments require students to take what they have begun to learn in Physics 111 and teach others about physical phenomena. Sometimes the students are asked to teach their peers or parents, but they are always encouraged to teach children of the age they would like to teach in the future if they are able to do so. Depending on the type of assignment, students may be asked to interview their friends and family members, conduct experiments or activities with them, and/or explain science concepts to them in easy to understand language. By breaking down science concepts and activities, and by sharing them with friends and family, the students in Physics 111 get the opportunity to solidify knowledge and gain new insights about science and teaching. In this way, friends and family assignments become more than just teaching others; they become a process of self-discovery and learning! Students not only gain knowledge about science, but they also gain confidence in their teaching skills and abilities.

After conducting each friends and family assignment, students in Physics 111 write reflections about their experiences. Reflecting on the friends and family interactions can be beneficial to future teachers because it often helps them conceptualize the process of learning and teaching. Thinking about these strategies will likely enhance their future teaching practices.

Friends and Family Activities

Week Physics Topic Activity Example Student Response
Week 1 Light and Shadow Explorations Use your cardboard to cut out a shape with which to explore shadows with a friend or family member. Post the questions you explore and your findings on the discussion board by midnight Wednesday and submit here as well. This was an interesting experience for me. To be completely honest I wasn’t even thinking about physics, or homework for that matter. I was sitting on the couch with my roommate Chloe and we noticed three shadows coming off the television. That’s when the idea struck me. After much explaining and convincing, Chloe agreed to let loose and play with shadows with me. The first thing we did was decided what shape to make; we felt an owl would be appropriate. Then we determined what question we would explore. We decided: What causes multiple shadows on a single object? We started with one light source shining on our owl; this cast a single shadow, just as we expected. Then we added another light source, which cast another shadow! After this we went back into the living room and I asked Chloe to apply what we just learned to the real life situation. She quickly put it together and said, “There are three lights in the ceiling, causing three shadows off the TV!!” It felt really rewarding to start with a real life question, explore and cumulate an answer!

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