Hands On Phones On


Glenys Thomson Deputy Principal ASMS


At the ASMS, our first week of lessons each semester is called Immersion and provides a taster of what we will be doing during that semester.

In maths today, we used PhoneLabs as the tool for gathering data so that we can investigate the relationship between tilt and gravity which links perfectly with the mathematical modelling we’ll be covering this semester. Set in the context of slippery dips (or slides if you are from the northern hemisphere), students worked collaboratively to investigate why children’s slippery dips are safer than those that older children and adults use through the consideration of the components of gravity as ‘steepness’ of the slippery dip changes.

The Challenge

The students were given little information from their teachers beyond a ‘why is this so’ type question (Have you ever wondered why little kids ‘ slippery dips are much safer than slippery dips used by older kids?) and asked to play with their smartphones in class (that’s something we encourage at the Australian Science and Maths School).

How it as done

They were provided with Lego blocks that could be used to simulate different numbers of steps on the rise of the slippery dip and gathered data that was then plotted using Excel and interpreted. Of course students could ask questions, and these were mostly answered with a question by the teacher that supported the students to work things out themselves.

What we learnt

Students were really engaged and asked to continue working on this next lesson! The variety in using the Lego was astonishing, from standard ‘wall’ type arrangements through to a sophisticated tilting mechanism that held the phone. Some students will further investigate inertia to more completely understand the issue.

The lesson had all the hallmarks of a great learning experience – engagement, relevance and intellectual challenge. Plus, it was fun!

Slippery Dip