My classroom is a high school classroom in Montgomery County, Maryland. My classroom, like much of the county, is a very diverse class. I routinely have less than 20% white students, with black/African American, Hispanic and Asian students making up most of the rest. My classroom is also economically diverse, ranging from students of upper middle class to students requiring food assistance. I teach Physics, which includes an Astronomy and Quantum Physics unit.
Although Montgomery County is fairly well-funded, departments are limited in their funding, and budgets and purchasing power has decreased steadily for departments over the last several years.
The department often does not have the resources to expand their technological offerings for students.
My project focuses on the physical reality of planetary orbits, not the gravitational cause. Students will research the orbits and then program robotic Spheros to move in an elliptical orbit for one of the primary nine planets in our solar system. The final student project will involve nine teams, one for each planet. The teams will demonstrate the relative orbits of the planets as they orbit the sun. The class as a whole will develop a scale model of the solar system.
The Sphero hardware should be a long-term, non-consumable product.
It is expected to last for years with proper care. Software is open-source, and so should also be sustainable. Additionally, with practice and experience on the part of the teacher, additional lessons are expected to be developed to include the robotic devices, thus expanding the use and exposure to students.
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