To begin my GK-12 experience, I decided to use the skateboarding CSDT tool from http://csdt.rpi.edu/ at the GK-12 Kickoff with our potential teacher pairs as our audience. In my lesson, I spoke of the evolution of skateboarding. Interestingly enough, skateboarding started out as a way to “sidewalk surf” when there were no waves that day. What started off as a last resort soon became a favored pastime. From there, my lesson went on to discuss the problems of gender diversity and ethnic diversity that this sport soon brought to the surface. Being a Hispanic woman in computer science, I feel that lack of diversity every day. While science is becoming more diverse each year, it’s still not where it should be. I mainly wanted to stress the significance of this because it could really become a learning experience for a middle schooler coming from a home where going to college isn’t really “the norm.” I want to emphasize the importance of breaking out of that and making your own way.
The last part of evolution I covered was the rise of skateboarding tricks. This became a great segway to talking about the science and math in skateboarding. First, I began with applications in science. Using http://csdt.rpi.edu/subcult/sb/physics.html and http://www.exploratorium.edu/skateboarding/trick03.html, I learned about the “ollie,” “frontside 180,” and “half pipe pumping.” With merely these three tricks, I was able to cover the concepts of gravity, friction, center of mass, speed, and the law of conservation of angular momentum. This could become a great hands on activity for kids to try (without skateboards) and pinpoint when different forces take over on their bodies at the different parts of each trick.
Next, I discussed the applications of skateboarding in math. The math of skateboarding basically covered the ramps, obstacles, and friction of the board on a surface. For instance, I brought up the arcs, line segments, polynomials, etc. that a skateboarder skates on as well as his slope at a particular instant. To display my meaning, I showed the skateboarder CSDT tool from http://csdt.rpi.edu/pCSDT/SB/index.html, and the audience got to play with the tool themselves on their own laptops.
After the skateboarder tool was explained, I talked about a fun way to get kids interested in the tool. You could upload a picture of the student, or one of his/her friends, to the background of the tool and change the ramps and line segments so the skateboarder appears to skate around the face of the background image. The tool also has the ability to change the elasticity and friction of any surface so this could be expanded on as well.
My last idea for this topic would be kind of a follow up to this lesson. After the kids played around with the skateboarder tool and got the skater to do what they wanted, they could make those ramps and arcs in a real life display using a cardboard box and different cardboard cut outs. Then, using a marble, toy car, or finger skateboard they could test out how their “skate park” works compared to the one they created in the CSDT. This would also be great for explaining friction so they could actually feel/see it in action, and slope for making the ramps the same steepness as the CSDT.
I think this lesson has a lot of possibilities, and I look forward to trying it out with actual students. Perhaps once I do that, I can get a feel for enhancing the other CSDT GUIs to better meet their needs.