e d g e - education for disability and gender equity

TEACHER'S
GUIDE


CONTENTS

 
1 Overview
2 Common Threads
3 EDGE Website
4 Using the Guide
5 Lessons
  5.1 Physics
  5.2 Biology
  5.3 Government
  5.4 Culture
6 Other Resources
   
 

5.1 PHYSICS - or - How do wheelchairs work?

 
5.1.2   Resources
5.1.3   Some Notable People
5.1.4   Before Using the Physics Module
5.1.5   After Using the Physics Module
 

5.1.1 SUMMARY
The goal is for students to apply the basic principles of work, energy, momentum and center of gravity. These basic principles are usually taught using machine images. We have translated them into more gender-friendly examples. We teach these principles and then ask the students to use this knowledge to predict the behavior of different people using different wheelchairs in different environments.

In the activity, students are given three body variables (a man, a woman, and an person without legs (gender ambiguous); four wheelchair variables (front wheel large, front wheel small, back wheel forward position, back wheel back position); and three environments (a bumpy flat surface, up a hill, down a hill). Resource links are provided so that students can continue learning factual information and to read interviews of people of scientists with disabilities and people who use wheeled mobility devices. (Skip to Physics Lesson Plan)

5.1.2 RESOURCES
Interactive Physics
http://www.jracademy.com/~jtucek/physics/physics.html

5.1.3 SOME NOTABLE PEOPLE
Ralf Hotchkiss - Engineer/Founder of Whirlwind Wheelchairs
http://whirlwind.sfsu.edu/general_info/news_articles/ new_lives/new_lives1.html

Kent Kullers - physicist
http://businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/may2001/ nf20010516_176.htm

Rosie Talamantes - Latina Scientist
http://rasem.nmsu.edu/%7Erasem/bios/rtalaman/award.html

Stephen Hawking, Physicist with ALS
http://www.hawking.org.uk/

5.1.4 BEFORE USING THE PHYSICS MODULE

  1. Ask students to think about a modern wheelchair. How are its properties similar or different from other forms of self-propelled wheeled mobility (i.e. bicycles, strollers, etc)?
  2. Ask students to think about designing a simple wheelchair for a child. What are the physics principles that they would need to know in order to accomplish this? How would they figure out the design specifications?

5.1.5 AFTER USING THE PHYSICS MODULE

  1. Have students write about the how their assumptions about wheeled mobility changed after doing the EDGE physics module.
  2. Have students create design specifications for a modern wheelchair. Then have them interview people who use wheelchairs. Have them assess their specifications against real-life user perceptions of what is useful in a wheelchair design.

5.1.6 LESSON PLAN AND CONTENT
Work, Energy, Momentum and Center of Gravity are the four main curriculum areas. Although these are usually taught using machines as a base, we have adapted these basic concepts to use human bodies as the base. We help students to explore the ideas of how a body does "work", uses energy and how momentum and the center of gravity intersect with a person using a wheelchair.

Activities
There are three activities that allow students to test wheelchair design in different situations: on a flat surface, uphill, and downhill. Each situation requires a different strategy based on energy, momentum and center of gravity. The students are given three sets of variables: a large or small front wheel; placing the back wheel in a more forward or more backward position; and whether to use a 140 lb woman, a 180 lb man, or a 140 lb double leg amputee (gender not stated).

The advantages and disadvantages of each variable are explained on the opening page of the activity section. Students then make their choices and get immediate feedback about the results of their choices.

Self-Test
In the Self-Test students are able to assess the level of their understanding of both the lesson and the accompanying activities. In seven multiple choice questions students get immediate feedback on their answers.

People Resources
Highlighted in this lesson are physicists and other scientists who have disabilities and are making (or have made) important contributions to the field. Included are Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, and Ralf Hotchkiss who designs wheelchair for people in developing countries.

Resources for further learning
Links are provided to other websites that offer further knowledge about the principles presented in the lesson as well as other applications of energy and momentum, such as amusement park rides.

Next - Part 5.2 - Biology


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