Analyzing Systems

In my grade 8 science classes we have been learning about systems. The Ontario curriculum unit, Systems in Action, has the students go beyond learning about physical systems and has them explore social systems and the evolution of systems.

I began this unit by having my students analyze a social system which included identifying subsystems, inputs, outputs and side effects. Each student chose a different industry and analyzed the various parts of that industry and their effect on society, economics, and the environment.

The students are currently finishing presentations for their second assignment, the evolution of technological systems and their impact on society. Together we brainstormed a list of ideas to research, and then students wrote their top five choices. They were then assigned to groups based on their topic preferences. Amongst the favourite topics, students chose to research the evolution of the telephone, the computer, the camera, and mp3 players. Each student group had to create a visual timeline of their chosen system using digital or non-digital tools. As they presented the timeline, they had to explain the reasoning for each technological change and how the evolution of the system has impacted society.

Below is a copy of my assignment sheet. As my school is an IB World School, the rubrics are IB MYP style.

Systems Evolution

Once presentations are complete, the students will move on to the second phase of this assignment. They will consider the various presentations and determine which technological system they believe to have made the biggest impact on society. To do this, we will have discussions to determine which criteria would be used to make this type of judgment. Based on the criteria that we determine, the students will compose their thoughts.

After analyzing the evolution of systems, we move on to experimentation with work and mechanical advantage.
Have a great week.

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Systems in Action

I have accepted the fact that I am not superhuman, and so I cannot always accomplish everything that I want. There was a time where I would feel guilty for not writing for the past month or so, but I have become wiser and now understand that I must retain my sanity. Report cards and another school project (Climate Spark) have kept me on hiatus, but I am back…

We have begun our Systems unit in grade 8 science. I introduced the unit by having my students play Fantastic Contraption, one of my favourite online physics games. The site has been a little finicky lately, but my students still had a lot of fun with it. After they had a chance to play for a while, they shared some of their favourite designs with their classmates. I then showed some videos of neat inventions that work as systems. First, we watched a few videos that highlight the innovations of Theo Jansen, creator of PVC sculptures in the Netherlands (see the BBC news video and the Ted Talk). Next I showed them some of the machines designed by Rowland Emett, which were used by the character Caractacus Potts in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This week I will also show them some examples of Rube Goldberg machines, videos of which can be found on my July 3 post. When we are a little further in the unit I will share some websites for work and mechanical advantage.

Until then, have a great week.

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