Finding Physics in Unexpected Places: Photo-sharing in the Classroom

The next assignment for my Web 2.0 class was to explore the use of photo-sharing sites in our classrooms. To be honest, photo-sharing is probably the tool that I will use the least in my classes, mainly because the classes that I teach benefit from a more dynamic medium. Thus, I will be doing more video-sharing in both my science and theology classes.

Of course, I do use photo-sharing sites like Picasa Web Albums (my site of choice), Facebook, and Flickr to share pictures with family and friends. I like Picasa because of the way it integrates with the free Picasa photo organization and editing software. It’s certainly no Photoshop, but for basic tweaking and distilling of snapshots it does everything that I need.

342782851_9f442de76dI have to say, though, I was very impressed by Darren Kuropatwa’s assignment which asked students to use Flickr to identify mathematics in places that people usually wouldn’t expect it. I saw this posted on the Cool Cat Teacher blog. Follow this link for examples of his student’s work. I liked the picture on the right in particular. Click on the link the picture to see the original Flickr page with the student’s annotations, pointing out all the exponential functions in the picture.

This is something that I may try adopting for my physics classes. Instead of identifying mathematics, I would ask my students to find physics in unexpected places. This would enable them to develop visual literacy and help accomplish one of the goals for my class, which is to be able to see physics at work in the world around them. This would also address NET-S #6, Technology Operations and Concepts. I like Darren’s requirement that students had to add a minimum number of “hot spots” to their photos. A hot spot is a clickable square that causes text to pop up, describing and highlighting how that particular area applies a certain concept. Students were also required to plan ahead to make sure all hot spots were accessible, and that a larger hot spot didn’t cover up a smaller one in the background.

I might also consider applying aspects of this assignment to a video format, in which students have to use Youtube or Vimeo to share a video that demonstrates several physics concepts.

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