Physics Experiment: Sometimes You Fail

MAET Year 2, Physics, Video, Visual Learning

Today, 4Tech embarked on a physics experiment. I did not have high hopes for this experiment as individually and in terms of our group, science is far from our subject area expertise.

The assignment was this:

You will work with your groups to shoot and edit a video that helps answer, in as direct and transparent a manner possible, the questions that were asked of you today. Specifically:

  1. Where does a ball fall when it is dropped by a person (a) standing still; (b) walking; (c) running. Does it drop behind them, at their feet or in front of them?
  2. Which hits the ground first, a ball that drops straight down, and another that is pushed off a table, moving in a curve as it hits the ground. Of course both balls start moving at the same time.

You will have 1 hour to plan, shoot, edit and upload your video so please use your time wisely and budget your efforts accordingly. 

Prior to embarking upon this experiment, we were shown the following simulation where the ball traveling in the arc appears to land after the ball traveling in a straight line:

Our final experiment looked like this:

Well at least the video looked nice, didn’t it? But our understanding was completely wrong. We were correct in saying that balls should be traveling at the same speed due to the rate of gravity but we allowed the awesome MADE UP simulation from above to persuade us to assume that the ball traveling in the straight line would hit the ground first. Here is the correct simulation.

Although our science understanding was a failure, this lead to a great conversation about how technology like video can allow learning to be visible. The common misconception is that the ball in the first physics experiment will fall behind the person dropping it and using video to slow down the experiment to provide us with new evidence that helps us combat those misconceptions. With the revealing of the false simulation, we also recognized that there are is still a need to use our information literacy and critical thinking skills before using a source to support our understanding.

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