Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Match A Graph - PASCO

I hear and I forget,
I see and I remember,
I do and I understand.
                                     - Confucius -

Sometimes the best way to solidify a concept in the minds of students it is best to use the most basic of experiences to drive home the point. The PASCO GLX series offers a very functional and simplistic  E-Z Lab called Match-a-Graph. utilizing force motion sensors to graph motion.  Although this lab is designed for junior high students ist provides a great opportunity to explore the concepts of graphing motion and the relationship between displacement, time and velocity.  For many high school physics students, there is a difficulty in the understanding of how the x and y axis of a coordinate plane in math functions as velocity or acceleration tool in physics. The transition in understanding that the y-axis can function for directional motion rather than a negative and positive value. It  is invaluable to get students to think in terms of  a negative velocity or displacement is backward, south or left and a positve velocity or displacement is forward, north or right.  Moving their bodies to match the graph really brings this concept together for most students and makes the next steps of calculating displacement and velocity so much easier.

The program provides four pre-fabricated motion models.  Students try to match the movement pattern represented by the graph both by displacement and velocity based upon the direction and slope of the graph.  The GLX data logger and the force motion sensor translate the movement into a line graph that is superimposed over the original graph.  Students determine their velocity and displacement based upon the graph created. Students must complete two trials for each graph and compare their own data with the other members of their group.

The Match-a Graph lab also provides insight for students of the relationship between slope of the line and increases or decreases in velocity, and finally the significance of a horizontal line as a representation of an object at rest. I use this lab to also provide practice in organizing data, using dtat tables and labels. I also have the students find the averages of trials for each student and determine who is the best at Match a Graph from their group based upon numeric comparison.

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