Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Show me don't tell me

Show me don't tell me. That is one of my student's motto. In our gifted program, one of our students has developed an interest in bridge building. Using the Internet I found a lot of great resources on bridge building, including a site that already has a description of a grade-able activity, background information on bridges, instructions, materials list, and a criteria sheet. Here is the site:


The site is called Rich Performance Tasks, and it is a Canadian made site, based on the Ontario curricular goals.

I then did a search on bridge building on YouTube, and found some great screen-capture videos of a video game that teaches bridge building. With these videos I was able to show the student how bridges are made up of a framework of beams and that their geometry determined how strong they are. We also discussed that bridges in reality needed to be made of materials used in the right way to make sure the bridge is made under budget:

This program is free from Download.com, and can be downloaded an reviewed here.

We also looked at another program that costs money, BridgeIt, and the student really liked the graphics, and felt that the cost (about $20 I think), was not too much for him to get if he really wanted it. I still like the free program, as free is my favourite price. Here is the video of BridgeIt below:

Finally we talked about how he could practice making bridges of different shapes using a combination of real building materials, and testing out new ideas first on the computer when looking for ways to improve his design. All in all, it was a nice lesson that married the experiences of the real world, and the learning that can come by experimenting the "virtual" world as a way to learn more.

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