Pasta Bridges Data Collection

I’m feeling really good about the pasta bridges work this year. Students are being very careful with their work, and there’s a lot if creativity in the room. A few groups were very attached to comparing different types of pasta, which I encouraged. It’ll give us a chance to talk about why quantitative data is important for making predictions by extrapolating with a best fit line.

I used to think that the pasta bridges lab was awesome because of the robustness of the analysis, but with some groups their data won’t be very useful for analysis unless I step in and tell them what to do. Instead, I’m feeling like its useful because there’s just enough variability, and many things to do that AREN’T so useful. It’s difficult to see the variability in your results unless you repeat a measurement with multiple trials. Too many pasta strands make a bridge unbreakable, so it’s unwise to plan out all the values you’re going to try ahead of time. This group, for example jumped from 5 to 10 strands of regular spaghetti:

They couldn’t add any more marbles to the cup, so I tried to encourage them to think about other ways to modify the situation. But then, in trying to show them how strong their bridge was, I ended up pushing down with a finger and breaking the whole thing!!

That many marbles in the cup when it hit the table broke the whole tumbler… I’d thought it couldn’t be done!!

##expdesign ##physicsfirst ##setbacks


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