Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Teachers Defying Gravity to Gain Students’ Interest

This from the New York Times, Photo by Damon Winter:

Before showing a video to the 11th and 12th graders in his physics class, Glenn Coutoure, a teacher at Norwalk High School, warned them that his mouth would be hanging open, in childlike wonderment, almost the whole time.

Mr. Coutoure then started the DVD, showing him and other science teachers floating in an airplane during a flight in September. By flying up and down like a giant roller coaster along parabolic paths, the plane simulated the reduced gravity of the Moon and Mars and then weightlessness in 30-second chunks.

The teachers performed a series of experiments and playful stunts, like doing push-ups with others sitting on their backs and catching in their mouths M & M’s that flew in straight lines, that they hoped would help them better explain to their students the laws of motion that Sir Isaac Newton deduced centuries ago.

“You see the ball just hangs there,” Mr. Coutoure said.

“That’s hot,” a student interjected.

The Northrop Grumman Foundation has sent science teachers on these flights of
weightlessness in the last four years to excite teachers and students about science and mathematics...

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