Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Worth 1000 words

Today I went back to the Aleluya School to observe Prof. Rizzotto's physics and math classes. Physics came first:
Plugging away at a complex problem.
 These students are in their second year of physics, during which they study electricity and magnetism. They're in the sciences track at their school, which means they get a total of three years on physics. Right now the class is in the middle of Coulomb's Law applications in 2-dimensions. Many of the problems are complex, requiring multiple steps to get the final answer.
Prof. Rizzotto lending a hand
 Today was all about helping the students run through some sample problems. Prof. Rizzotto and I worked our way around the room coaching students through problems. As always, I was impressed by how hard the students worked.
5th year students hard at work
 At the end of the day most groups were humming along on their own. Though they might not think they're ready for the upcoming test, the reality is that these girls have the process wired.

The second class I visited was a 6th year math course. Prof. Rizzotto had promised the class a surprise, and he delivered. He brought in a truncated cone (a lampshade) and told the students that they needed to take measurements and end up with a drawing showing exactly how much fabric was necessary to make the shape and how it should be cut. Before class we discussed group sizes and decided to have the students work in groups of 3. I would like to be able to share some action shots of the girls hard at work, but this proved to be impossible because they weren't too keen on having their pictures taken and preferred to ask me questions about the task at hand. At the end of class they posed for a group shot, which was awesome.
Group shot of 6th year students
Toward the end of the class one group, the first to close in on a solution, started putting their work on the board. I was working with a different group who had nearly solved the problem. I commented on a number written on their paper and said it looks right and pointed to the board, where the other group's work was written with the identical number. The student explained to me that she didn't want to look at the board because if she does then she won't figure it out for herself. Way to go!

It was really good to be in the classroom today. I finally feel like I can spend more time thinking about the problem solving and less on the words I need to use to hey my point across. I think that the girls would agree that my Spanish is far from perfect, but steadily improving. They were really helpful... among other things, today I learned how to say:

decompose: descomponer
radius: radio
similar: parecido
cone: cono
sin: sino
cos: cosino

Julio and I went shopping for whiteboards today. Hoping to have them up and running soon!

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