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: I Wish I was little bit taller… Inspired by Skee-lo
How does student height relate to jump height? Tall people can reach higher, however how do their vertical jump height relate to their standing height?
  • Create a testable hypothesis: Tall people jump higher off the ground than shorter people
  • Have all the students measure their jump height on the plate and also record their heights
  • 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, sex)
  • 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.


Matt and Heather’s force plate

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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Primordial Soup at Albany High School

Danielle Basore

3Helix Fellow Kathryn playing Primordial Soup with AHS students

On the last day of after school (May 7) for this year, I played a board game called Primordial Soup with the students.  I have brought this game periodically throughout the school year.  The goal is to acquire genes for your herd (pod? pack?) of amoebas to help them survive and thrive in the primordial ooze.  The genes give them abilities like fast movement, eating less food, living longer, and armor for protection from carnivorous amoebas.  However, these genes come at a cost.

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