I teach high school physics to a diverse group of 11th grade students who come from an enormous range of academic backgrounds. No matter the achievement level, each scholar loves bringing their creativity to the science classroom, constantly giving me ideas for physics projects. Given the opportunity to problem-solve with their hands (such as when they were tasked to build flashlights from household items), some of my most academically struggling scholars demonstrated astounding critical thinking skills that previously weren't expressed through more traditional assignments.
Given adequate tools and support, our kids can grow to be extraordinary members of a 21st century society.
Building technological skills is an integral step to this and is embraced by my students. From practicing data analysis skills to working with sensors, they have the drive to learn about new technology.
Hands-on learning is integral to my physics classroom. It engages students in the content, allows them to showcase their problem-solving skills in novel ways, and fosters organic, content-related discussion in the classroom. I have also found hands-on lessons to be more accessible to struggling students; many of my scholars with the lowest academic confidence absolutely shine when given the chance to showcase their intelligence using real-world objects.
The addition of a 3D printer to my class would open many doors for physics exploration in a school where students often lack necessary science resources.
From using printed parts to explore student-driven hypotheses about mechanics to learning how physics concepts govern how the machine works, this tool would empower all students to think more deeply about physics and how it affects the world around them.
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