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Re: [Phys-L] Inference Lab Design

Quite interesting. I'll have to think for a bit to see if I can frame
it properly to ensure that the lesson hits home, but this could work to
not just get the idea across, but also provide some enjoyment.

You also point out that I was setting myself up for failure by only
thinking about approaches which require measurement, when that ability
is one of the most limited for the students.

Jacob Turner - (208)885-2730
Director of Physics Laboratory Education
University of Idaho

-----Original Message-----
From: Phys-l [] On Behalf Of Rauber,
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 12:33 PM
Subject: Re: [Phys-L] Inference Lab Design


A simulation of science played with a deck of cards and is all about
making inferences.

|-----Original Message-----
|From: Phys-l [] On Behalf Of Turner,
|Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 2:21 PM
|Subject: [Phys-L] Inference Lab Design
|I've been banging my head on how to design a lab which will impart a
|sense of using inference. I intend this for our lower level
|(non-calculus) freshman labs, so should be fitting for AP High School
|physics range as well I imagine.
| General thoughts I have had are to place something in a box and have
|them tell me everything that they can about it without sight or direct
|physical contact. But framing this so they can determine a worthwhile
|quantity of information with minimal direction is a fine line.
| Another thought was to allow them to make actual measurements of
|something with proper tools (so they know the right value, as long as
|they did things right) then require that they obtain the same
|information by some quantity of other methods, choosing the precise
|number to force them to get creative. This runs the risk of failing to

|think of some easy approaches, so groups who think of those ones get
|off easy, and groups who fail to think of something easy which you
|thought to be obvious flounder helplessly trying to fill the arbitrary
|Plus since it is a measure you already know... it just feels pointless.
|The primary obstacle is that this is intended for the first week in a
|first physics course for students who likely have many unfamiliar with
|any form of scientific thought. If I could use electronics, I have
|many more promising possibilities. But really I can only assume they
|know how to use a few basic
|tools: Balance, ruler, scale, graduated cylinders. And of course
|sight, sound, and tactile senses.
|Right now, I am giving it up as a nice ideal, but not practical.
|Anyone else have some ideas which can get students to think and start
|the semester out with some thought?
|Jacob Turner - (208)885-2730
|Director of Physics Laboratory Education
|University of Idaho
|Forum for Physics Educators
Forum for Physics Educators