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Integrating Highschool Sciences Answered

Irene Duke, Kate Hoff, Lyndsay Carlisle and myself are participating in the MIT course 11.124, _Introduction to Teaching and Learning Science and Mathematics_. We have a variety of teaching interests: Irene hopes to teach chemistry, Kate to teach Physics, myself Physics or Mathematics and Lyndsay hopes to teach social justice / political history. Provided Make magazines as inspiration, we were tasked to design a joint activity, merging four high school classes of these topics for a period of weeks or months. We developed the ideas described in this first entry over the course of a class period. Hopefully, we'll take the time to expand each step into an instructable, possibly including trials by fire teaching 8th-11th graders. The material is structured by conservation of energy and resources, inspired by the articles of Tim Andersen. The final demonstration we envision motivates the particular material we wanted from each field. A bicycle wheel is drives an alternator transforming mechanical energy into electrical. The electrical energy is used to run a electrolysis process, rendering separate measurable quantities of Hydrogen and Oxygen. The Hydrogen and Oxygen are then combusted for the students. The amount of mechanical energy can be measured, as can the electrical. The binding energy of H_2O can be used to determine the chemical potential energy rendered. Finally, the combustion both demonstrates the energy's new form, and the difficulties in storing energy. The difference between power and energy underlies all of these experiments. Conservation of linear momentumn should be a familiar topic with the students. Conservation of angular momentumn can easily be introduced at this point, demonstrated with the bicycle and a fly wheel. Chaning the orientation of the wheel can be exteremely difficult. For the chemical portion of the experiment, stoicheometry should be familiar to establish the link between the amount of gas generated and the energy invested. The most appropriate mathemetical tools are statistical. Sampling, linear regression and averaging would prove useful throughout the experiments. Global economic relationships leading up from the colonial period would perhaps be the most applicable topic form history or the social sciences. Though not a technical detail, an important aspect of executing such an idea involves the actual deployment of resources. Students could, for example be broken up by their topic of interest, whether it be the physical, chemical or social aspects of the project. Next, new groups would be formed with one or two members from each subject area. These groups could then attempt to execute the design from the first slide, or one which is similar. Throughout, the students will present their thoughts or understanding to the teacher. This design project should perhaps be phrased as simply turning mechanical energy into hydrogen. Students with social scientific background might be responsible for estimating the costs of the implementation in different settings, and that would be used to drive a larger scale version. So, before getting started on building and documenting this project, do people have suggestions? What worked to combine the physical sciences for you? What might have worked?