Bundle 2: Collisions

Tier 1: What do concussions have to do with physics?

Tier 1: What do concussion have to do with physics?

Objective:

The learner will engage in exploration of concussions and CTE.

Overview:

Student will learn about the story of Zak Easter, who committed suicide at 24 years old after suffering from symptoms of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) as a result of multiple concussions. Students will spend time doing research to better understand CTE. The teacher should use their discretion if/what should be covered by the students in their research, as well as possibly splitting classes into groups to cover certain parts of the research about CTE. The groups or individuals then come back together as a class to share what they found about CTE as a way to bring together the problem as a whole: concussions occurring in athletes.

Big questions:

Students then investigate the following questions:

  • In high school sports (or athletics in general), when are concussions happening most often and what is the cause?

Standards addressed:

MS-PS2-2
Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
 MS-PS3-1 Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.

Tier in depth:

Phenomena: Share with students the story of Zac Easter, as told by his family using the video and article in documentary format by the Des Moines Register. Zac Easter was from Indianola, Iowa and committed suicide at 24 years old after suffering from symptoms of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) as a result of multiple concussions. Allow students to do some reflection after understanding Zac’s story, then discuss two other well-known stories of CTE victims – Tyler Sash (University of Iowa football player and from Oskaloosa, Iowa, and Mike Webster (former NFL player for the Pittsburgh Steelers and story made famous in the Will Smith movie, Concussion).

Students should do some whole class research first, to determine when concussions happen and in which sports most often. From there, students could be split into groups based on interest (football, cycling, soccer, etc.). Students can create a display of “what we know” about how and why concussions happen, perhaps specifically in the sport they are studying, and support these claims with evidence and reasoning.

MS-PS2-2: Students develop questions based on their prior research that lead them towards developing an investigation of why concussions are happening, using Newton’s first and second laws. These investigations should be designed to determine the relationship between the motion of an object (dependent variable – most likely the athlete) and the sum of the forces acting on it (independent variable). These investigations allow students to develop an explanation of a cause and effect relationship used to predict the motion of the object (dependent variable) and the sum of the forces acting on it (independent variable).

MS-PS3-1: To further expand their investigations, students should construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationship of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object. Students would want to create or gather data based on their sport of study. Data can be simulated and collected using the PhET Collision Lab. Students should include in their explanation of their investigation how the kinetic energy of an object is proportional to the mass of the moving object and grows with the square of its speed.

Discussion of Results: Students should share findings and graphs with their peers and teacher. Class discussions can occur to clear up any misconceptions and allow for class agreement on why concussions occur, according to Newton’s first and second laws, as well as the relationship between kinetic energy and the mass and speed of an object. Evidence for student findings should emphasize Newton’s laws, as well as quantitative data from graphs of simulation results.

Nature of Science: Before moving on, the teacher should take time to discuss with students how the examples of Sir Isaac Newton and the scientists studying CTE, as well as their own investigations demonstrate how science is a human endeavor. Scientists and engineers are guided by habits of mind such as intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism and openness to new ideas. Students read about how Sir Isaac Newton was guided by habits of mind that supported him in discovering the motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it. Furthermore, students then can use the same discussion from Newton and apply it to today’s scientists studying CTE. How are they models of or not of intellectual honesty, tolerance of ambiguity, skepticism and openness to new ideas?

Optional- Primary vs. Secondary Sources: Students could examine the differences in primary vs. secondary sources of information and data when doing research for an investigation. An example of this is the KCCI news story on July 26, 2017 about a new study about CTE being released. The primary source is the actual study of CTE from Boston University’s CTE Center by neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee.

Resources:

Included in Part 1, 2, or 3

Supplemental to Part 1, 2, or 3

Experts:

 

Solutions:

 

 

 

 

Prepared By Hallie Edgerly (ADM Middle School) and Courtney Van Wyk (Pella Christian Middle School)

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