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Abstract Title: Scaffolding the Development of Students’ Mental Models of Pulleys
Abstract: Research has shown that students activate a diverse set of resources to construct a mental model of how pulley systems reduce the force needed to lift a load. We report on a study in which students enrolled in a conceptual physics laboratory spent two weeks investigating pulley systems using either physical or virtual manipulatives. Students were given written materials which guided them through a series of activities which scaffolded their construction of a mental model. They were required to make predictions and then test these predictions by building and comparing different pulley systems. Students were presented with a challenge to design the best pulley system to lift a piano at the end of each week. We compare how the students' models develop between the physical and virtual treatments as well as investigate the ways in which they use the manipulatives while completing the scaffolding activities.

This work is supported in part by U.S. Dept. of Education IES grant award R305A080507.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Amy Rouinfar
Kansas State University
Department of Physics
116 Cardwell Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-2601
and Co-Presenter(s)
Adrian M. Madsen, Kansas State University
Tram Do Ngoc Hoang, Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogy
Sadhana Puntambekar, University of Wisconsin
N. Sanjay Rebello, Kansas State University