DIY Force plate plans for deployment at Albany High

John Drazan

We want to be able to talk to the kids about the differences between science and engineering while providing some tangible experience with real life data collection and analysis methods.

I was thinking about doing something along these lines:

1) Introduce ourselves and talk about how engineers build equipment that scientists use to ask and answer questions.
2) The undergrads (Matt and Heather) would give a brief overview of how they built the system
3) Have the entire class jump on the plate and then compare the results from the plate to measurements from the jumping and touching the board with chalk
4) “Validate” the system by comparing between the jump and reach data vs the force plate data.
5) Come up with a question as a class to answer using the scientific method, the force plate and 2-d kinematic equations.
6) For example: Battle of the sexes: Can girls or boys jump higher?
  • Create a testable hypothesis: Girls will jump on average higher than boys
  • Have all the boys and all the girls measure their jump height on the plate
  • Compare the results by taking the average of each group
  • Talk about how we can use other representations of data to learn more about the system (introduce the concept of box plots and standard deviation)
  • Discuss other variables that could be important to understand results (student weight, age, height)
  • Discuss the differences between scientists and engineers and what they like better.
At the end of the day, the kids should have an understanding of the difference between a scientist and an engineer and also have an engaging introduction to real world data collection using a piece of equipment that they could make.
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Matt and Heather’s Force Plate System!

John Drazan visit to AHS 11/4/2015

John Drazan

I visited the high school on Wednesday for after school. While I was walking through the high school, I saw a student that I had worked with the previous year in Mr. Amodeos class. He recognized me and I stopped to talk to him and three of his friends. He proudly told me that he had passed the biology regents with a score of 81, and now he was taking forensics. The four of us started talking about the use of science and math to improve training for sports.

I was really impressed by the student I worked with last year. When we were talking about boxing, he brought up the idea of moving your hands faster, gives them more energy. Without prompting, he told me that faster hands “it meant that there were more Joules” which meant harder punches. He started getting teased by his friend for saying “Jewels” are related to hand speed, but that changed when he turned out to be correct. He was really proud that he knew that when “he was in forensics, not physics”. I ended up working with the 4 of them for an hour after school and they promised to come back next week.


3Helix Teacher-Fellow Kickoff

John Drazan
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Vince Amodeo and I met for a few hours as part of a fellows-teachers kickoff event to discuss the upcoming year. I will be working with Vince on with two of his “Foundations of Living Environment” Classes which is a class designed to review material for students who have previously failed the Regents test. The class meets every other day. We have pretty free rein on what topics we can cover as long as it ties to the curriculum. Vince and I talked about two different topics for a lesson sequence.

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