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Center of Gravity - Science is Awesome

leia posting in Creativity+Fun+Science=Good
User: sciencesquad (posted by ithilstar)
Date: 2006-11-01 07:53
Subject: Center of Gravity
Security: Public
Ok, I like the idea of doing an experiment ... but keep in mind our target audience, they aren't going to be able to easily follow something that's complicated. I was thinking that maybe doing some simple logic statements would be good, they should definitely come before we show any kind of experiment. Like one of the characters could come in and say something crazy, like "it's raining outside and therefore *insert crazy thing here*." (this would be the if a then c statement) So of course the other characters are confused, then we back up ... and go through the whole if a then b and if b then c, THEREFORE if a then c! I think for the age group that we're aiming for, this would be an extremely valuable and simple lesson to learn, and then the whole scientific method/doing an experiment on the show would have a whole other dimension.

Have you thought about center of gravity? This would also be a simple concept to introduce ... start with easy objects, like a disk or a sphere, and then move on to wierd shapes ... the characters can try and try (in a humorous manner) to find the COG by balancing funny things on a spike or something like that. (we did a lab kind of like this in intro physics, but it was the moment of inertia, not the center of gravity)
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User: nova1021
Date: 2006-11-01 17:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Have we defined our target audience?
If we are posting on YouTube, computer-savvy though kids are, I doubt we will be reaching younger elementary school ages very much.

Also, there's a tricky balance between keeping it simple enough and giving kids credit for being as smart as they are. I think in general people don't give kids enough credit. The trick is keeping their interest while discussing the more challenging topics.

Logic statements, though important, are not all that interesting by themselves. If we do them I would say let's include it in part of a larger theme. So, in the process of investigating something, make a faulty logical connection and then upon further investigation show that it was wrong and explain why.
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User: ithilstar
Date: 2006-11-01 23:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
okay, we do need to define our target audience ... i guess i was kind of going off of the original idea, and not the part where it had morphed into youtube. that's something we'd all need to agree on first though.

maybe this is just a difference in style -- but i'd rather start with the basics and build up from there, getting simple concepts very grounded with people, rather than inundating our audience with information and hoping they pick what we want them to out of it. Keep in mind that you've gone through a college program in this stuff -- and you understand a lot more. Yes, kids are smarter than we give them credit for, but you can't talk over their heads either or we'll lose them. That's part of what the characters and the fun script are for -- to keep interest if we somehow fail to miss the level we're going for.

I don't know, I just kind of assumed that this would be targeted at elementary level kids -- because that's where the most need for it is. Studies have shown that most kids get turned off of science right around fifth grade and when they start middle school, and I think that if we embark on a project like this, it should be for a worthwhile reason, not to just entertain random people who stumble across it with some science that they will never use (not that i'm saying that's what you are saying, i'm just saying. we need a mission statement or something).
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