Massively off topic, but this is my main social community and I am in sleep deprived giddy mode, so I wanna share
I run the introductory series of physics labs at a university. These used to be exactly what they are in most places: Cookbook labs. That means there is a list of detailed steps, you do exactly as you are told to do, you see exactly what you expected to see, you plug some numbers into some formula, and apparently you just learned something.
I am working on finding a way to instead teach the students what experimental science is really about (which is mildly laughable since I haven’t officially done any, and certainly wasn’t taught how to myself). First I just stripped away all of the instructions and kept the same labs. That rather annoyed the students, but they did learn more.
But this semester I finally have my full overhaul of the labs started, and while I intended to keep things simple, I have snuck in a few labs in what I hope to be their finalized form.
Stayed up WAY too late for the past couple of nights trying to build some Arduino based Theremin units. I finally got them working consistently, with the sensitivity and range that I wanted from them.
The lab has just started using these devices.
Now… a Theremin is a musical instrument, and these ones modulate their tone to provide better sounding results. But the students were not told that these are musical instruments. They were told that these are “Some kind of sensor which reacts in some way to electric fields, but only gives measurement output via pitch changes”
And now, they have to figure out how to use the sensors to prove something as rigorously as possible. And will present their findings to the rest of the class upon conclusion of the two week exercise.
The students seem excited so far. They have already started to measure some things I hadn’t anticipated. They are doing some actual science, and not complaining about the fact there is no right answer.
Dead tired, but on cloud 9.