Day 123: Vector Ventures
I finding out that I’m not into lecturing like once was, in another like. Instead, I ask questions, have the kids ponder and connect to previous learning, and out pops the new learning. Granted, there are times when students can’t build on previous learning to create new understandings, but I’m finding that actually doesn’t happen as often as I once thought.
Today we began our Vector Venture. Students had a rudimentary knowledge of vectors from their freshman intro to physics course: “it has direction” was about what they remembered. I asked lots of questions and when needed, supplied the vocabulary (magnitude, direction, components, resultant vector, etc.) and the notation, but not until we had found the information using previous learning. Good ol’ Unit circle, polar coordinates and Pythagorean theorem to the rescue in developing the components, magnitude and direction of a vector. Then we put two vectors together and developed the resultant vector idea. Once again, they came up with the structure and made the connections.
After we finished, they used the concepts and processes they quantified to solve problems together. They were quite engaged and interested in solving the problems. I wish I had a better background in physics to actually create a foundation experience around the notion of vectors and then build on it. Alas, I don’t. Could be a good conversation with my physics buddies down the hall, right?!
What cross-curricular knowledge do you wish you had more of in order to deepen your students’ understanding of mathematical ideas?