Interactive, scaffolded model
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Using a computer model of a bouncing ball, students are introduced to the idea of computer modeling, its limitations, and its advantages.
They can experiment with the elasticity of the ball to model balls with different "bounciness," ultimately ending with the understanding that there could be a super-superball, which never loses any of its "bounce" (or kinetic energy). This kind of behavior is very similar to that of atoms, so the model of a superball can be set in such a way as to model the behavior of a single atom.
Students will be able to:
This is the first in a series of computer-based activities that explore the molecular nature of biology. Because it is the first model students will use, there are meta-goals for this activity beyond the simple content of modeling a superball/atom.
This model was chosen to highlight several things:
We start with a simple model of a single atom bouncing around because students need to have the core understanding that all atoms and molecules are in continual motion, and that they don't just "slow down" as is our everyday experience with moving objects. The only reason a real rubber ball stops bouncing is because some of its kinetic energy (energy of motion) is being converted into other forms of energy, like heat or sound. You can, therefore, make connections to energy conservation in this activity as well. Later this may be useful when discussing the conversion of chemical energy (as in ATP) or light energy (as in photosynthesis) into other forms of energy for proper cell function.
The computer model can be used alone, but it is best utilized in the context of other activities to reinforce the ideas mentioned above. One suggested sequence for integrating the computer lab in a wider modeling context would be the following:
Part A: Observing Real Bouncing Balls
Part B: Using the Computer Model
Part C: Kinesthetic Modeling
Models can be used to help us understand and predict the behavior of superballs and atoms.
Additional Related Concepts
A connnection is made between the behavior of a superball and a model of a particle in a container.
Last Update: 12/07/2015
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9980620, ESI-0242701 and EIA-0219345
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