The coaster, per se, is not a model, but when students use it to explain disciplinary core ideas, it becomes a model. We required students to tag their photos in thinglink with places where the marble had the most and least potential energy and where it had a lot of kinetic energy. In doing this, students used their own creations to explain and demonstrate their understanding of potential and kinetic energy. When they did this, I was also able to identify a misconception that several of my students had. They assumed that a lack of kinetic energy equalled a lot of potential energy or vise versa. They understood the concepts of potential energy and kinetic energy, but they failed to realize that an object could have a lot of potential energy and a lot of kinetic energy. Sharing examples (e.g. airplanes) allowed us to overcome these misconceptions.
In addition to having students record their "model" thinking in thinglink, we also asked them to create a record of their engineering design process in the thinglink. Each student was asked to tag the following places
- one place where you intentionally changed your design
- one place where you purposely increased or decreased the kinetic energy of the marble
- one place where you met the criteria for success for this project
Through this assignment, students were able to use their own creations to demonstrate their understanding of disciplinary core ideas and they were also able to record parts of their engineering design process.
One aspect of three dimensional learning that was absent from this project was an intentional focus on crosscutting concepts. Next year, we'll incorporate this from the beginning and then ask students to tag at least two places where they see crosscutting concepts in their photo. We'll use Peter A'Hearn's crosscutt symbols (http://crosscutsymbols.weebly.com/) in the tags that students make.
If you want to see an example of a roller coaster thinglink with tags made by students, click here.