<<OK - Here is a specific example. Please see what your inclination is on this. Would like to deal with formulas (of all types) at the high school level. Where they come from, the effects of "tweaking" one of the variables, the derivation of the units (e.g. BTUs), manipulation, et al. I am looking for a context that might be interesting to students and would allow for this type of analysis. One colleague suggested a heat-efficient house as a setting. What do you think?>>>>>
The reply I sent to Rick follows. I hope it demonstrates how you can get students involved in the discovery process without heavy emphasis on the 50 minute, minimal interaction lecture. Keep in mind as you read the example that students will be coming back to the teacher often to ask questions about where to get information such as electricity costs. Again the resources of a group or the class could be used here instead of just telling students to look at their electric bill. They might even communicate with a parent to find some of the information needed.
Here is something similar to a heat efficient house but a little simpler. Askyour students to see if they can determine how much money it costs them (or their parents) to pay for a typical shower they take. I say typical because it can takwe anywhere from 10 min to 2 days for my kids to finish a shower. It is simpler than a energy efficient house because you start with the definition of the heat capacity of water at 1 btu/lb.-F. They will need to measure the amount of water in a specific unit of time, keep track of the length of a shower and measure the normal water temperature and shower temperature. They will also need to find out how much their electricity costs and then convert to dollars spent. I used to teach a solar design course before oil prices dropped back in the 80's. The students were impressed with the simplicity of the exercise and wioth the value of the results. Once they do this they will appreciate the concept of heating a house and heat loss and converting btu data into economic information. They may even shower less time if they discuss the results with the payee.