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ERIC Number: EJ1024889
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Oct
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 12
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Computer Supported Collaborative Rocketry: Teaching Students to Distinguish Good and Bad Data Like Expert Physicists
d'Alessio, Matthew; Lundquist, Loraine
Physics Teacher, v51 n7 p424-427 Oct 2013
Each year our physical science class for pre-service elementary teachers launches water-powered rockets based on the activity from NASA. We analyze the rocket flight using data from frame-by-frame video analysis of the launches. Before developing the methods presented in this paper, we noticed our students were mired in calculation details while losing sight of physical concepts. Sloppy measurements and calculations (even when using spreadsheets with formulas provided) sometimes led to such poor results that physical concepts could not be reliably taught from the data, but students were unmotivated to either notice or correct their errors. We adopted a collaborative, computer supported approach using simple and easily available functions in Google Spreadsheets to pool observations, provide instant feedback, and publicly display results from all teams side-by-side in real time. These instant comparisons promote student accountability and engagement, inspiring them to think more carefully about why answers may be different and notice sloppy data or unlikely outcomes--in short, to facilitate and motivate expert thinking about data.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A