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Physics education

Physics education or physics education research (PER) refers both to the methods currently used to teach physics and to an area of pedagogical research that seeks to improve those methods. Historically, physics has been taught at the high school and college level primarily by the lecture method together with laboratory exercises aimed at verifying concepts taught in the lectures. These concepts are better understood when lectures are accompanied with demonstration, hand-on experiments, and questions that require students to ponder what will happen in an experiment and why. Students who participate in active learning for example with hands-on experiments learn through self-discovery. By trial and error they learn to change their preconceptions about phenomena in physics and discover the underlying concepts.

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Work and Energy: A Brief Summary When one thinks of the word “work”, one thinks of something that requires the use of physical or mental energy. As in everyday life, work and energy are also closely related in physics. Work is defined as the product of the component of a force along the direction of displacement and the magnitude of the displacement. In simpler terms, work is the force exerted on an object. In order to find work, one would use the formula W=F*d*cos Θ, which is read as follows: work equals force times displacement times the cosine of the angle theta. Energy is divided into two basic categories in physics: kinetic and potential. Kinetic energy is the energy of an object that is due to the object’s motion, the key phrase being “object in motion”. The formula for kinetic energy is KE= ½ mv2, read as Kinetic Energy equals one half of the mass times the squared velocity, or speed. Potential energy is energy associated with an object that has the potential to move because of its position relative to some other location. Basically, it deals with an object not yet in motion but that has the potential to be in motion because of its shape, position, or condition. There are two kinds of potential energy. The first is gravitational potential energy, which is the potential energy stored in the gravitational fields of interacting bodies. The formula for gravitational potential energy is Peg=mgh, mass times gravity (which is defined as 9.81 m/s2) times height. The second type is elastic potential energy, which is the energy available for use when a deformed elastic object returns to its original configuration. The formula is PEeleastic= ½ kx2, or one half of the spring constant—a parameter that is a measure of a spring’s resistance to being compressed or stretched—times the squared distance (represented by x) compressed or stretched. Using Multimedia As technology continues to evolve, new ways of teaching continue to arise. Teaching through multimedia has become a popular way to learn in schools. Teachers use power points, videos, music, and forms of art to teach students. This can be a highly effective way of teaching. What once took days to teach can now take less than an hour. Multimedia teaching is mainly beneficial to the more visual and hands on learners, although it can help everyone. About the Sampled School Los Angeles Adventist Academy is a small religious institution located in Los Angeles and founded by the Seventh-Day Adventist church. The school consists of grades K-12. The junior high consists of grades 7 and 8 and has a population of approximately 40 students. The junior high has a diverse population made up of many different races and religious preferences. The students are taught the basic core curriculum for their grade level, along with Spanish and computer applications. Learning Habits of 7th and 8th Graders The mind of a middle school-aged student is as ripe as a small sponge. During this stage of adolescent brain growth, new ways of thinking emerge, such as critical thinking, problem solving, planning, and controlling impulses. Research shows that the mind of 7th and 8th graders can hold between 5 to 7 bits of new information at a time. Therefore, cramming is not an effective way of teaching their young minds. The best way to approach their young minds is by teaching engaging lessons. The more engaging the lesson, the more likely they will retain the information. In order for them to process new information one must provide opportunities to reinforce the material. Reinforcement is the key in moving material from short term memory and connecting that same new material to the part of the brain that stores long term memories. The twentieth century today has changed drastically in numerous ways, including learning, studying, and teaching. The old conventional way of learning, studying, and teaching has been pushed slightly to the side in order to embrace new methods better suited for the new technological advancements. Studies have shown that students learn and absorb information in different ways based on their individual personalities. Linguistic, auditory-musical, visual, kinesthetic, mathematical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal are the different types of learning styles. While conducting the research, the main objective will be to find whether the information can be processed retained using three of the major learning styles: visual, auditory, and linguistic learning. These three learning styles were chosen as a way to target a broader group of students. Since this is the day and age for technology and music videos, a tutorial seemed to be the best way to combine all three learning style types into one teaching tool. Procedure To determine whether or not the use of multimedia in teaching junior high school aged children physics is effective; we will test it by performing the following procedure: Step 1: Distribute the 7th and 8th graders equally into two groups, so that there are two 7th graders and two 8th graders in each group. One group will be the control group, and the other will be the treatment group. Step 2: Administer the pre-test to the treatment group, and record the results. Step 3: Show the treatment group the video tutorial. Observe and record the subjects’ behavior during the viewing. Step 4: Administer the post test, and record the results. Step 5: Pass out the post-tutorial questionnaire for them to take home and bring back the next day. Step 6: Administer the pre-test to the control group, and record the results. Step 7: Lecture the control group. Observe and record the subjects’ behavior during the lecture. Step 8: After the tutorial, administer the post test, and record the results. Step 9: Pass out the post-lecture questionnaire for them to take home and bring back the next day. About the Video After using a survey to gather information from the seventh and eighth grade classes of Los Angeles Adventist Academy, we concluded that middle school children learn better with music, particularly of the pop and Hip-Hop variety. We also learned that the majority of them enjoy sports. Because of this knowledge, we incorporated music and sports-related examples into our video tutorial. About the Lecture During the lecture, we were able to act out our real-life examples and base them on the interests of our subjects. Results Each subject in the control group increased their scores by 20%, while the treatment group shared no real common increase in score. However, 50% of the group decreased by 20%. I theorize that because the overload of information provided by the video confused the subjects, causing them to second guess themselves. Discussion Contrary to the results, the video tutorial group actually believed the video to be effective in teaching them work and energy. This goes to show that test results aren’t everything. A student might fail a test, but that doesn’t mean that they did not learn anything. Both groups had varying results. According to the two tests administered to the subjects, only 50% of the treatment group actually grasped the concepts presented to them in the video tutorial, while 100% of the subjects in the control group grasped the concepts presented to them in the lecture. Surprisingly, the control group had the highest rate of increase. This means that the lecture was the most effective teaching method. For anyone wanting to continue or redo this research, I have several recommendations. First and foremost, it is vital that future researchers use a larger sample. The sample used in this project was extremely small, and that played a huge role in the results. One should collect children from various schools in various neighborhoods. Future researchers should be sure that their subjects are at the same learning level. Due to a lack of resources, we were forced to go by the subjects’ teacher’s word—which was most likely based upon their track record at turning in their schoolwork—rather than by the results of their standardized tests. Also, the subject taught may have been too complex for this age group to learn through multimedia. It would be wise to do this study with different subjects, perhaps less advanced ones. There are many factors that affect one’s results, such as what time of day the experiment is performed, and even what the subjects had for breakfast that morning. So lastly, I strongly recommend that future research on this subject be more controlled than that of our research. Conclusion According to the results, the lecture was the most effective teaching method. However, I do not think the results are significant enough to rule out multimedia learning altogether. The students seemed to enjoy both styles of learning. Because of that, I recommend that teachers establish a middle ground in using both lectures and multimedia.

Contributed by Vontavia Heard

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