This is another project that I want to do, with my highly anticipated Glowforge (coming in August!)
Building models of stuff is a large part of the Science and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Models are used to “provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena.” When having students build models, they can actually finish the activity, have a nice model, but still be confused about the phenomena.
I’ve had students build 3-D maps using topographic maps and corrugated cardboard. They trace the contour lines, cut out the cardboard, and assemble the pieces. Viola! 3-D model.
There are a few issues with this model building. First is that someone went through our school, and as a safety measure, blunted all the sharp tips of our box knives. This makes it very difficult to cut cardboard. It’s really hard to cut cardboard with scissors, the difficulty means that female students often just “let the boys do it.” Because of the time and effort spent making one model, they end up being static. This is a shame, because we live in an area with dynamic geology. We are within 50 miles of the channeled scablands, the area formed when the ice dam that created lake Missoula failed. We have glacier carved valleys, volcanic basalt flows, and tons of other interesting things.
I know that the Glowforge will be useful in creating 3-D models. One idea that is rattling in my head that I don’t have an answer for is how can I make my models dynamic? Depending on the class, I would be willing to let them figure out how to make a dynamic model of, say, the formation of a glacial valley over time. Does anyone else have any clever ideas? I’d love to hear them.