Day 99 – Pressure and Math Cubes

Science 8 – Here is a photo from my other science 8 class. I used math cubes to model pressure. Each block represents one unit of force and the height of the blocks is units of pressure. Each block that touches the desk is a unit of area. We make a chart on the whiteboard with pressure, force and area and the students are asked to find patterns. Eventually we see that pressure x area equals force. Voila! we have P = F/A.  12 cubes works the best because factors.


I suppose you could call this “discovery learning” and I have no idea why you wouldn’t want children to experience it. They are challenged and engaged in the activity and feel pride at the end of it. Some educators say that we should simply tell them P=F/A, in order to reduce their cognitive load.  I guess this comes down to what you value in education.  For me, I simply cannot imagine what is so important about P=F/A such that a student really needs to know anything more than the idea that surface area spreads force out.  And frankly speaking, most of high school science is like this.  For me, the process is the important part.  Challenge their reasoning, their ability to make inferences, to recognize patterns and turn them into a model that can make a prediction.  That’s what I’m talking about.

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