Fish koozies and Bart’s Comet: Pre-class overheads (November 4 – 8)

(This post is part of an ongoing, semester long series. Each week, as a lecture TA in Physics 100, I choose a pre-class overhead for each of the two lectures I help out in. I attempt to choose images that connect to the current material and that are fun and possibly provocative. Here, I keep a record of the images I choose and thoughts I have about the in-class outcomes.)

Coozie1This week saw a continuation of our discussion of thermal conduction before moving on to circuits. The goal with this transition was to use thermal conduction as an analogy for the less familiar case of the electric circuit. For the first class of the week, I used an image of a beverage koozie with the queuing phrase, “What is the fish doing?”. When selecting this image, I pictured an easy way for the instructor to get a discussion going in the class. In my imagined scenario, the instructor would begin with the question, “Who has used one of these before?” I would expect many people to raise their hand, at which point the instructor would go on with, “Why did you use it?” If no one volunteers their opinion, the instructor could call on a person whose hand was raised to get a first opinion, then look for agreement or disagreement.

In our classroom, it did not go as I imagined. The instructor did ask who had used a koozie. However, just one person put up their hand (and the instructor did not see it). There was no one for the instructor to call on for a reason and so the instructor himself explained the connection to thermal physics as a lead-in to the lecture. Then, either my imagined scenario was not in touch with reality or we have not done a very good job of fostering an environment in which students feel comfortable offering their perspective (even through a hand-raise).

In the Thursday class, we used one of my favourite Simpsons clips, taken from the “Bart’s Comet” episode. This clip connects to energy and somewhat bridges to the topic of electricity via the bike light generator Bart uses. In the clip, Principal Skinner has a fun quote: “Ah, there’s nothing more exciting than science. You get all the fun of sitting still, being quiet, writing down numbers, paying attention… Science has it all.” I could see this being used to lead-in to a discussion about the benefits of an interactive classroom.

Comment/question starters

Some possible comment starters for you:

  • Your imagined discussion scenario was out of touch! My approach is to …
  • I would never use a Simpsons clip in the classroom because …
  • My favourite science-related Simpsons clip is …
  • Some interesting heat conduction or circuit related images I would have considered are …
  • A better queuing phrase for the koozie would have been …
  • A way you can use pre-class overheads more effectively could be ….
  • What is your goal with the pre-class overheads?
  • The main goal of pre-class overheads should be _____________. To accomplish this, you should …

(Koozie attribution: By MarshallKe (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

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One comment

  1. […] Fish koozies and Bart’s Comet: Pre-class overheads (November 4 – 8) – A science teacher employs “Bart’s Comet” in class: […]

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