Ease on Down the Road

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Ease on Down the Road

How can transportation options and development show what we value as a society? Who do we value? What positives and negatives come from interactions? Should elderly citizens not be allowed to have a driver’s license? To what extent must we consider the impact of broader consequences beyond how they impact us personally? These are just some of the questions being tackled by the junior physics students as they begin their work in unit two on kinematics, the study of motion.

Students are investigating kinematics using the lens of transportation, as it has become a necessary component of daily life around the world. Whether students walk to school, get a ride, take the bus or train, or ride their bikes, they can use their personal experiences as a frame of reference for conversation and topic investigation over the next few weeks. Students began this second unit building background knowledge and integrating their prior knowledge with new physics concepts and terminology.

Students investigated and discussed how the speed and acceleration of a passenger train could lead to a crash, using news footage from a Spanish train crash as a conversation point. The classes investigated a helmet designed in Switzerland which mimics an airbag, deploying when a person is thrown off their bicycle. Slow-motion videos of airbags deploying— thanks to two popular British Youtubers—provided students a harmless yet informative way to view and understand how quickly a situation can change. Afterwards, students shared their opinions on proposed questions and discussed each other’s thoughts and reasonings. Throughout the rest of this unit, students will investigate transportation laws from around the world (such as the “no cellphone” rule), analyze videos of transportation practices from across the globe, and determine the global impact of technology advancement, all while developing core SAT math skills.

By the end of the unit, students will have selected an area of greatest importance to them regarding transportation laws, and determine if currently enacted transportation legislation is enough to keep as many persons safe as possible. Along the way, they will explore self-driving cars, race balloons, make and test helmets for raw eggs, and continue to explore motion from a global perspective using a hands-on approach .