Using Collision to Teach Physics

Shantel Clark, Head of Science Department
Each month, the science team meets to share something that they’ve learned and are passionate about. They then showcase classroom implementation to the rest of the science team to help foster our “open door” belief that good learning fosters great teaching. Last week, Senior School science and physics teacher, Mrs. Nina Dolgovykh, presented a Grade 12 physics project that uses a car collision to teach about important principles of physics.
With a focus on inquiry-based learning and implementing technology, Mrs. Dolgovykh sees her role as a teacher not as an information provider, but an opportunity provider. Inspired by Dr. Wieiman, and physics education research the Grade 12 physics students are exposed to context-rich activities that support scenarios that occur in the world around them.

This unique lab asks students to use the physics of momentum along with calculating velocities of the cars involved and the coefficient of kinetic friction to decode a crime scene. The students review rules of the road, and information about pedestrians and cyclists so that they can build a story around the scenario. A video simulation of the scene development is one of the expected outcomes as well for the project. The Crash Scene Lab provides multiple opportunities for students to get engaged in meaningful and experiential learning that support innovative thinking, the opportunity to take risks in learning and learn from any mistakes.