Friday, May 30, 2008

WEEKLY GEEKS: Story Telling (week #5)

Guten Tag, Weekly Geeks! This week’s theme was suggested by Renay. She says, “I thought it would be cool to ask people to talk about other forms of story-telling.”

Forms of story telling, hmm. I've seen some wonderful posts already - television, plays, needlework, folklore, poetry, blogging, and scrapbooking to name but a few. I used to scrapbook much more, and it is a wonderful form of family story telling, and my kids and I love to go back and read the tales and look at the photos of my children when they were so young. (I stopped scrapbooking before I did any for my third child. I'll pay for that later, I'm such a bad mother.) I think I'll super geek out on you, and tell you about a form of story telling I do at school.

I'm a physics teacher, so I tell my students that the lab report they have to write tells the 'story of the lab'. We start with the introduction: what are you trying to do, what is the plan for the day. Then a diagram and some theory, to give a picture of what you did and how it looked, including some theory of what you are investigating. Then the data. A table is a wonderful way to present a lot of information in an easily readable form. I know what you measured, in what units, how many trials you completed. Next is the calculations - formulas and numbers to illustrate what values you were able to determine. If you are lucky, you may be able to draw a graph, and the relationships between the variables are so clear, so linear (or inverse or inverse square) that a single glance will allow you to see the connections between the data. Time for some analysis, so understand what you really did. I'll provide some questions to answer that make the students think about the lab and the theory and its connection to what they did.

Finally a conclusion. They find this the hardest, but it is the denouements, the finale, the summary of what the lab was. Go back to the purpose and answer the question. What is the relationship between length and mass? How does period vary with length of the pendulum? What did you discover? How good are your results? What possible error is there in the collection of data?

I try to make them see that the steps we use in a lab report tell the story of what was accomplished in the lab. It's not the same as an English paper, as we use a lot more math, but there can be so much symbolized in the numbers - a table or a graph, that if you can read it, are very beautiful. But there are similarities: a purpose or thesis statement, the body of information to support the thesis, and then the conclusion.

There. I totally geeked out on this one.


  1. Totally cool, geeky post!

    Oh, it's a long time since I had to do a lab report. In fact, it's also a long time since I had to mark one. Chemisty for me rather than physics but the principles are pretty much the same.

  2. I've really loved all the different takes on this week's theme - yours was yet another unique look at storytelling ... and one I would NEVER have thought of. Cool!

  3. Oh man. Physics. I count myself as a fairly intelligent person. I was actually valedictorian of my high school class (no thanks to physics!). This was one thing that I could never grasp. Man...
    I'm duly impressed!!

  4. LOL! I love that -- "totally geeked out".

    I've been complaining to my husband that we never take real vacations and he just yanked the rug out from under me by changing from a conference in Hawaii (I was going to tag along at my own expense) to some stupid meeting in D.C. I said "Ummm, how about Prince Edward Island?" And, he said what you'd expect of an American who no longer owns a decent atlas: "Where is that?" :)

  5. Cool. I would have liked you for my teacher, except I never took physics. I knew my mind didn't work that way - it's all about the words, for me! I enjoyed Chemistry and Biology though. and great way of looking at it as storytelling!


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