Friday, September 13, 2013

Follow-up to the Buggy Lab

In a post yesterday, I shared a new piece of my (WCYDWT) buggy lab: having students mark explicitly on the graph which interval denotes their "answer," and having the other groups interpret the graph to determine what the situation and question were.

I had really only done this with one of two sections of Physics, and I have now had both of those sections a second time after that lab. The results for one task seemed pretty clear. I used Matt Greenwolfe's suggestion here to wrap that up by asking them to draw a specific position vs. time graph for all six robots. I actually asked for two graphs: first, for the six robots, if each was programmed to run for 20 seconds and stop (that's how they were actually programmed on the first day). Second, for the six robots, if each was programmed to run for one meter and stop.

The first class had some of the same issues that Matt described: confusing the time and distance intervals, ascribing meaning to the length of the line, etc. After some discussion, they figured it out and went on. The second class had a much higher proportion of correct graphs from the beginning on both questions. It was a large departure from previous classes' performance as well, so it seems to have had a positive effect.

One of the graphs from the second question is below. The others have been erased, but several of them drew dotted lines horizontally or vertically first, then drew their graphs, which is a great sign.

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