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Hamline Mythbusters (winter 2017)

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Andy Rundquist arundquist@hamline.edu Robbins Science 124 651-252-1778

Hamline Mythbusters, Winter 2017

Bulletin language

Learning outcomes

Physics major outcomes

Hamline Plan learning outcomes

Course learning outcomes

Office Hours

Assessment

Assignments

Videos (50%)

What If (15%)

Science communication (15%)

Debate days (10%)

Estimation days (10%)

Rubrics

4 level scale

Rubric for writing assignments

Group points

Video rubric

Grade scale

grade book

Policies

Daily expectations

Attendance

Presentations

Lab

Bulletin language

This course is an experimental 1980 course and so the language is not in the bulletin.

Goals: To learn about and execute scientific investigations of everyday activities in order to find whether common assumptions about them are true.

Content: Whole class, team-based, and individual investigations into various scientific myths. Students will produce videos akin to the “Mythbusters” approach and will produce individual writing that demonstrates an understanding of the ramifications of taking concepts to the maximum possible level. Students will also produce writing intended for a very low-level audience, exploring the limitations and opportunities available in scientific writing.

Learning outcomes

Physics major outcomes

These are all of the outcomes for the physics major. However some still apply for a non-science-major course like this. Those in bold are what are introduced/reinforced/assessed in this course

Students will demonstrate a thorough understanding of general and modern physics.

(BS only) Students will demonstrate a fundamental understanding of advanced physics topics.

Students will design, perform and interpret an insightful physics experiment.

Students will communicate physical concepts and experimental details.

Students will collaborate as part of a scientific team.

Students will apply math and technology tools to problem solving.

(BS only) Students will demonstrate the ability to model a physical system using current computational and analytical techniques.

Hamline Plan learning outcomes

Demonstrate ability to use and reflect upon fundamental skills and approaches* of the given field/discipline. *perspectives, methods of inquiry, tools and terminology, theories, interpretive frameworks, technologies, assumption, and/or epistemologies.

Course learning outcomes

  1. I can execute a thorough investigation of a myth.
  2. I can investigate and report the ramifications of a scientific/engineering concept when taken to a ludicrous degree (“What If”).
  3. I can communicate scientific concepts using the ten hundred most used words in the English language.

Office Hours

See empty space on my calendar between 8 and 4

Ways to contact me:

Assessment

Note that for all but the final drafts you will receive video feedback from me for all of these assignments.

Assignments

Videos (50%)

You will investigate myths with your team. The final product is a video to be posted on YouTube in the style of the Discovery Channel show called “Mythbusters.” For each myth you should:

  • Clearly state the context
  • Identify the assumptions people have about it
  • Explain the basic science involved
  • Perform a small-scale related experiment
  • Perform a large-scale experiment
  • Determine whether the myth is
  • Busted
  • Plausible
  • Confirmed

The videos will be assessed using the 4-level rubric. The last 10% of the grade will be determined from the group points.

Each team needs to check in with me via video submitted twice per week (due at the end of the day on lab days (Tuesdays and Thurdays). The check ins should explain:

  • What you’ve done
  • What you’re planning
  • What you need from me
  • I will endeavor to make sure I have what you need by the next lab day.

Every Wednesday in class we will have “hole poking” days where members of your team will fan out to learn about what other teams are up to and to try to poke holes in the other teams’ plans. Each day one member of the team will be responsible for presenting the plan to the emissaries from other teams. That person will be visited by emissaries from up to 4 other teams and that group will try to find problems with the plan. Each of those groups will collect issues that should be discussed with the whole class and we will spend the last half hour discussing those issues as a whole class.

What If (15%)

To demonstrate your mastery of the science involved in particular myths you will each individually produce a “What If”-type blog post where you will take the issues to a ludicrous degree. This should be at least 1000 words and should include appropriate images you create and links along with footnotes (see the style of the blog).

Drafts are due weekly (on Tuesdays). On those days you will work with at most 2 other people to determine holes in your approach and to brainstorm new directions to identify. You need to bring a paper draft of your What If scenario every Tuesday and it will be turned in with the accumulated notes of those who’ve read it in class.

The post will be assessed using the writing rubric.

Science communication (15%)

To demonstrate your mastery of scientific communication you will produce a document intended to explain the science or apparatus used in one of your team myths (no two team members can do the same topic). The twist is that you can only use ten hundred most used words in the English language (note that “thousand” is not in that list). This was made famous by Randall Monroe’s explanation of the Saturn five rocket.

Drafts are due weekly (on Thursdays). On those days you will work with at most 2 other people to determine holes in your approach and to brainstorm new directions to identify. You need to bring a paper draft of your 10 100 report every Thursday (not counting the first one) and it will be turned in with the accumulated notes of those who’ve read it in class.

This will be assessed using the writing rubric.

Debate days (10%)

Every Monday will be a debate day. A topic will be assigned the day before that is or was controversial in the science community. You need to identify and read two publically available sources on each side of the controversy to prepare for the debate. Teams will be formed and we will hold a formal debate between the two side where only evidence from the identified sources can be used. To ensure this, everything must be a direct quote from the sources. The grade will be a participation score determined by the instructor

Estimation days (10%)

Every Friday will be an estimation day. You will be told to work with randomized teams to determine a reasonable estimate of a size or number of a common physical quantity. Access to the internet will be restricted on desert island days. The grade will be determined by how close you are to the actual number.

Rubrics

4 level scale

Much of this was inspired by/copied from Frank Noschese's work on SBG

Note: Not assessed: 0

  1. Doesn't meet expectations: 1
  • I need lots of help from my instructor (one-on-one).
  • I have low confidence on how to do the skills and need more instruction.
  • I need my textbook/notes at all times.
  • I do not understand the concept/skills.
  • I cannot correctly identify concepts and/or define vocabulary.
  • I cannot make connections among ideas or extend the information.
  • My responses lack detail necessary to demonstrate basic understanding.
  • Cannot articulate most of the main ideas involved in the standard
  1. Approaches expectations: 2
  • I have a general understanding of the content/skills, but I'm also confused about some important parts.
  • I need some help from my instructor (one-on-one or small group) to do the skills correctly
  • I do not feel confident enough to do the skills on my own
  • I need my textbook/notes most of the time.
  • I can correctly identify concepts and/or define vocabulary; however I cannot make connections among ideas and/or independently extend my own learning.
  • My responses demonstrate basic understanding of some main ideas, but significant information is missing.
  1. Meets expectations: 3
  • I understand the important things about the content/skills.
  • I have confidence on how to do the skills on my own most of the time, but I need to continue practicing some parts that still give me problems.
  • I need my handouts and notes once in a while.
  • I am proficient at describing terms and independently connecting them with concepts.
  • I understand not just the "what," but can correctly explain the "how" and "why" of scientific processes.
  • My responses demonstrate in-depth understanding of main ideas.
  1. Exceeds expectations: 4
  • I understand the content/skills completely and can explain them in detail.
  • I can explain/teach the skills to another student.
  • I have high confidence on how to do the skills.
  • I can have a conversation about the skills.
  • I can independently demonstrate extensions of my knowledge.
  • I can create analogies and/or find connections between different areas within the sciences or between science and other areas of study.
  • My responses demonstrate in-depth understanding of main ideas and of related details.

Rubric for writing assignments

I will use the English department’s rubric.

Group points

Each group will assess the group members on how well they contributed to the team. Each group is given points to divvy among the members. Getting 10 provides full credit for this. You must use integers and you can use both numbers greater than 10 and negative numbers. The total number of points available is four times the number of members plus one. Here's a blog post about this.

Video rubric

This is the rubric for the video

  1. Science (60%)
  • basic physics of your device
  • preliminary experiments
  • role should be clear
  • science explained
  • description and demo of final device
  • ultimate video
  • putting it all together
  1. Creativity (10%)
  2. Credits (10%)
  3. Involvement (10%)
  4. story telling (10%)
  • how it holds together

Grade scale

letter grade:

A

A-

B+

B

B-

C+

C

C-

D+

D

D-

F

rounded score >=

94

90

87

84

80

77

74

70

67

64

60

0

grade book

see grades here

Here’s how to use it.

Policies

Daily expectations

In class we will develop the tools needed to do the three main assignments. We will typically break into groups to work on various aspects of any new tools we’re developing. Groups will use large whiteboards to record their progress and to report back to the larger group. The groups in class will be assigned randomly each day, while the teams for the mythbusting will be set once (likely the second day).

Attendance

There is no formal attendance policy. However, new expectations for the three assignments will be constantly added throughout the class and all students are expected to recognize those. Quite often the mythbusting teams will use portions of class time to do further planning.

Presentations

We will watch the main YouTube videos on the day of the final (that’s also the day all final drafts are due). During the term random and standing teams will often be asked to give informal presentations in front of class. These are not graded but are used to foster further dialog about the topics and tools we’re discussing.

Lab

There is no formalized lab assignments. Instead lab times are when I will be available to help the mythbuster teams with equipment and brainstorming.