The interview below is a part of a series on New ATDP Courses for 2013. Dann Bearson discusses The Physics of motion and Force, which he will co-teach with Dana Ozer. Read the course description here.
What is your favorite thing about teaching science at this level (5th grade)?
Both Dana and I love the energy of upper elementary grade students. They catch onto ideas quickly and they do not think in terms of the “correct” answer. By high school kids have a style of acceptable answer down pat; this is good in that it is evidence of an organized thought process, but it also limits their perspective. Upper elementary students are still thinking extremely creatively.
How will this course enhance and build upon what students are learning at school?
The clearest connection is to eighth grade physics and chemistry. After completing this ATDP course students will have a firm grasp of the basics of motion and friction. On a broader level this course helps students see that science is all around them and that understanding the scientific perspective on phenomena is incredibly fun. It is much more difficult to choose to ride a bicycle on a low tire after gliding across blacktop on a thin layer of air. We are going in-depth on basic phenomena; it reminds us why science is such a great subject to study.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your background or motivations for teaching this course?
Dana and I are a husband and wife team. Together we have over forty years of teaching experience. We have worked in regular education classrooms, special education, administration, youth-at-risk and with home schooled children. We love kids. We love science. And we really love having fun. In our room everyone learns, everyone feels safe and we work very hard to ensure that everyone has fun.
Just for fun: Which of Newton’s laws is your favorite to teach? Why?
I’d go with Newton’s Third Law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law is a great excuse to push each other around on carts, skateboards, etc. and to shoot off baking soda and vinegar powered drag racers. It also has the beauty that once you understand it, evidence of it is everywhere. That is the joy of this class; it brings a new perspective to phenomena that you see all of the time.