Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Presentation 1 - Driver & Bell

Models/analogies used in class may be or might not be limited in explaining concepts.  Some analogies are kept being used in further education of the subject but others work only at an O level standard of education, as they will not be analogous to the scientific concept when delving deeper in the subject.  Think of one analogy that you use in class with students and discuss up to which level of science education it works.   If it works at O level and not A level should you change it?  Would it lead to students forming misconceptions?


  1. I used an analogy in Science Form 1 to help the students vizualize an abstract concept which was the arrangement of particles in the 3 states of matter.

    I told them to imagine that the particles in a solid were arranged in the way the students themselves were arranged in the classroom; the particles in a liquid resembled the way the students stayed in line in the tuck shop queue; and the particles in a gas behaved as they did during breaktime...

    I wouldn't say that the analogy wasn't effective for the students to recall this concept, because they remembered the analogy perfectly when I started teaching them Physics in Form 3 (two years later) this year. But I think that since new material is introduced, such as the effect of heat energy on the particles etc., the analogy shouldn't be used any more and that students should be able to describe the arrangement of particles WITHOUT HAVING TO REFER TO THE ANALOGY.

    Hope I've answered the question sensibly :)

  2. I think that's a rather good way of explaining it Andre. Tempted to try it out...

  3. Dre_X it-tfal (form3) qaluli li kont ghidtilhom biha din!! :D .... qed nara l-comment tieghek wara li ppostjajt tieghi, qas indunajt. Pero mhux ezatt l-istess.. imma nidhru li hrigna mill-istess forn.

    Iva Chris tahdem ikolli nghid ta..

  4. I’m not sure whether it classifies as an analogy as such, but I also use this popular personification of atoms, similar to what MC Chircop said, when explaining the difference between the three states of matter and the transition between one into another.

    So I get a number of students to stand next to each other and holding each others hands to represent a solid. As they slowly let each others’ hands and move slightly apart and around being melting and going into a liquid state. Then of course I ask them to run around quickly in random directions representing a gas. I also use the analogy of an energy drink to students as the thermal energy to atoms.

  5. I use an analogy when explaining SHC to my students, but as Marie Claire commented I think analogies are mostly suited for O'level students. A-level students could probably do without them.

    Basically I compare SHC to buying vegetables. Example: Tomatoes are prices at €1.50 per kg. This does not mean you have to buy 1 kilo. If you buy 3 kilos you multiply the price by the weight (mass actually, but anyway). Same applies to SHC. Water is 'priced' at 4200J per kg per degree C. If you have 0.5kg you... anyway you got my point! :)

  6. The analogy that I use with my Form 5 students, when doing Half Life in the topic of Radioactivity, is what I call the ‘Tombla Analogy’.

    I give to each group of students a set of tombola numbers which they would have to count before they put them all in a vase. They will then have to roll and shake the vase as much as possible and pour the wooden tombola numbers in a tray. The tombola numbers that are face down are to represent the decayed atoms and are subsequently counted and removed from the tray. The experiment is repeated several times with the remaining numbers. Each time the number of remaining atoms (face up tombola numbers) is recorded.

    The students would then have to plot a graph of the number of tombola numbers (atoms) remaining against the number of throws. The resultant graph would have a similar pattern to the half-life graph.

    This model also reinforces the idea that radioactive decay takes place randomly