Eighth Graders Use Beebots to Explore Vectors in Physical Science

Eighth Graders recently used Beebots programmable robots to explore vectors in physical science class. The teams of students were given a grid mat, a Beebot, compass rose direction cards, a meter stick, and a recording sheet. They were then given time to explore by programming the Beebot to follow the paths and record the distance and displacement. They did three trials and recorded the paths of the Beebot, as well as the distance and the overall displacement. Then the students were asked to come up with their own conclusion about vectors. Lastly, they predicted possible paths that would prove their conclusion and tested them. It was a hands-on learning exploration which reinforced the concept that order of individual distance vectors does not effect the overall displacement vector. From here the students will continue to explore the relationship between vector representation and physics concepts such as representing velocity with vectors. Moving away from measuring distance on the Beebot mats, the students will learn to use the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate the magnitude of a displacement vector.

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