Circuits, Curiosity, and Inquiry: Physics and Team NHS Learning Studio

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Last Friday was an especially exciting day for all of us here in the NHS Learning Studio as we partnered with Physics teacher Joe Pepitone to create learning opportunities for inquiry and student exploration of circuits.    Below, Joe explains the seeds of this collaboration, reflections on the lab activities, and the impact of a team effort to create “centers” and “extension” circuit activities to extend and challenge the principles behind the primary circuit lab.  I encourage you to take the time to listen to Joe’s in-depth reflections on processes and insights from our experiences.

Overview of Our Day of Fun and Learning with Circuits

Joe began by explaining the paper circuit lab that was the starting point for students and the learning activity to demonstrate learning targets.

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Students then self-formed groups to do the first lab where the goal was to create a paper circuit that would result in the LED bulb lighting up.

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Once they had demonstrated they had created a working paper circuit with a working light bulb, students could then move through our two extension and enrichment centers facilitated by LSTC Logan Malm (a former science teacher) and Jennifer Lund (my fellow librarian).  Logan worked with students using the MakeyMakey kits while Jennifer helped students work with the squishy circuits (we had purchased our materials for these last year as part of our maker activities for Teen Tech Week 2014).  These “centers” were designed to provide students additional hands-on opportunities to further their exploration of circuits; these were both a big hit with students, and many were interested in doing more labs using these materials and visiting the media center to utilize them for fun.  We loved hearing them think aloud and problem solve together; many of them did not want to leave when the bell rang!

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We were even joined by several of our assistant principals and fellow science teachers—I think it was very powerful for our students to see adults learning side by side with them.

We are deeply appreciative to Joe as well as Logan for this kind of collaborative experience that ultimately benefited our students and elevated learning to a new level; as Joe reflected in the video earlier, having other partners to help facilitate an activity like this enables him as a teacher to meet students at points of need and for instruction to be differentiated.  These partnerships, fluidity in expertise and novice, co-learning, and energy are the very kinds of learning experiences Jen and I have envisioned for our library learning studio.  To see it blossom and to be part of the vision become reality is joyful and exciting.  We cannot wait to see what new partnerships might be inspired with other faculty and community members by this collaborative work!

See more of our photos and videos here.

6 thoughts on “Circuits, Curiosity, and Inquiry: Physics and Team NHS Learning Studio

  1. Wow, that’s amazing. As a high school student interested in the STEM fields, I’m quite jealous of these kids! Is the NHS Learning Studio a class or is it a club? I would love to propose a similar workshop to my school or a club because I’ve come up with several projects that use circuits and have almost no idea how to work them. Also, using liquid circuits and squishy circuits to learn how circuits work is definitely a plus, fun and relatively simple.

    1. Hello there! The NHS Learning Studio is actually our media center/library space and the collaborative partnerships we cultivate with our teachers. However, I would love to have a club formed around these kinds of interests who could use the space as well. I bet there is someone on the faculty at your school who could help you explore your interests—maybe you could even be the person to start such a club at your school!

      1. Wow, that’s definitely unique. Just wondering, how do you guys get the funding to do projects like this? Fundraisers?

        Our school does have an engineering club, the only problem is getting funding to do projects like this! Until then, it’s learning by online tutorials!

      2. The Makey Makey and Squishy Circuit materials were not terribly expensive, and we purchased with Media Center monies. Our teacher we worked with is not on campus today (he is proud dad of baby #2!), but when he returns, I’ll get the details on the cost and funding sources for the items he brought to our collaborative activity.

      3. Congrats to him and thanks! I’ll see if I can get our Engineering Club to invest in those materials (after AP exams). 😀

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