The Physics Hidden in our Homes
In the future, science assessments will not assess students’ understanding of core ideas separately from their abilities to use the practices of science and engineering. They will be assessed together, showing that students not only ‘know’ science concepts; but also that they can use their understanding to investigate the natural world through the practices of science inquiry or to solve meaningful problems through the practices of engineering design.
Next Generation Science Standards
We all learn a fair amount of Physics at school and college (if we pursue a science or engineering program)- about motion, forces, electricity, energy, light, wave motion, just to name a few. But often we are not able to connect these basic concepts with their usages in our daily lives and how these are incorporated into technologies we are almost unconsciously using every day. To that extent our learning seems disconnected from the real word. For example, we all use the GPS in our mobile phones to get from one place to another- but do we understand how relativity helps this system to be accurate? We learn about pressure but how does a blood pressure instrument measure pressure? Do we understand how a blood sugar monitoring instrument uses basic electricity concepts?
In this course, we will choose a few of these modern high-tech gadgets which have a profound impact on our lives. Taking examples from mobile and digital cameras, medical science, and from the all-important area of renewable energy sources,we will delve deep to understand basic concepts such as pressure, wave motion, the science of light, colour and image processing and conversion of energy from the sun into something that we can use. These discussions will be accompanied with “building or making something” and ‘doing something” that requires an understanding of important science ideas. This building and doing in turn, will deepen students’ understanding of science concepts. For example, creating photographic effects through use of different camera settings, or post-processing images using image editing software, will help students internalize complex ideas about the science of light and colour. Students will also build devices such as perhaps a sonar radar, a solar cooker, a solar PV based electrical unit or a 3D image viewer.
By the end of the course, students should not only develop a deeper appreciation of science concepts and how they enable technology, but should also be brimming with new ideas of how to learn more, how to explore more, and how to convert their ideas into new inventions!