In Pursuit of Excellence in Engineering Education through Innovation.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Preparing Session Inputs - II

Having planned out how to begin a session in an innovative way, let us now focus on how to deliver the main content.
A well-defined session plan, although lays the foundation, is not sufficient to ensure successful delivery. 

Hence, it is necessary to detail out every minute of a session, keeping in mind, the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ for each topic of the session. For example, for a topic– “Newton’s Third Law of Motion: The Law of Reciprocal Actions”, we could structure the content along these lines:

Who – Who stated the law?
When – When was the law formulated?
How – How does the law work? How can the law be concluded?
What – What is the law?
Why – Why does the law hold good?
Where – Where can we apply/observe the law?

Note: The sequence of the 5 Ws and 1 H can be altered depending on the topic.

Let us now look at one possible way of detailing out the topic, based on the questions identified above.

Since the first two laws of motion stated by Newton have already been discussed, the learners are familiar with the answers to ‘Who stated the Law?’ and ‘When was the Law formulated?’

The following ‘Notes’ could therefore be added.

The description of how the quiz is to be conducted can be given inside the activity box.

Now, we could look at ‘How the Law works’. A demonstration could be chosen as the methodology. A “Notes” section, like the one below, could precede the description of the activity.


A “Notes” section could now follow, describing how the faculty will move from the activity-related discussion to answering ‘What is the Law’? 

The underlying principle and the statement of the law are contents which will actually be spoken out by the faculty in the class. Hence, we should mark these as “Announcement”.

It is now time to discuss ‘Where do we observe the law?’ This could be done by providing more examples from real-life and letting the learners identify and relate the law. Through this activity, we can gauge how well the learners have understood the concept. It will also take them from the Understanding level to the higher-order levels of Application and Analysis.

The examples discussed so far would have impressed upon the learner, how this law is a significant part of our life. It is now quite natural that they wonder “Why the law holds good?” or “How can the law be concluded?” Let us now answer these questions. We could possibly take the learners through a deductive proof of the law. We could proceed as follows.


Single point of contact

Newton’s third law implies that if a body A exerts a force on body B, then the body B will also exert a force of equal magnitude but opposite in direction on body A. This can be mathematically written as: FAB = - FBA.

Let us first consider the case of two bodies which touch each other at a single point. Each body exerts a force on the other at the point of contact. The net force (Fnet) at this point would be the algebraic sum of the following two components:
  • The net force at the point of contact due to body A
  • The net force at the point of contact due to body B

If the point of contact is treated as a “body” of mass zero, then by applying Newton’s second law of motion, we get Fnet= 0.
This implies that the two component forces acting at the point of contact must add up to zero. Therefore, it can be concluded that these two forces must be of equal magnitude but opposite in direction. 

The law can be validated for the other two scenarios by simply reducing each of the cases to either a special case or an extrapolation of the first case. This gives scope for learner engagement. We could encourage the learners to deduce the proof for the last two cases through a group activity.

Surface Contact

Suppose two bodies A and B are in contact with each other along a surface. The surface of contact can be considered as a large collection of points. By applying the argument given in the first scenario, we can conclude that the force exerted by body A on body B at each of these points is equal in magnitude but opposite in direction to that exerted by body B on body A at the same point. By integrating over the whole surface, it can be deduced that the net force exerted by body A on body B and that exerted by body B on body A are equal and opposite. That is, FAB = - FBA.

Not in contact

There are forces such as gravitational force, magnetic force, etc, which act even at a distance. By considering the space in between the bodies as the third body in the middle having zero mass, we can conclude that the forces exerted by the two bodies on each other are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

Having discussed at length about the nitty-gritty of the law, this would be the appropriate time to answer the question “Where can we apply the law”? 

The above example illustrates how to detail out the main content, using an appropriate mix of Notes, Announcements and Activities.

We hope this blog entry gave you a fairly good idea about how to structure and organize the Session Inputs so as to ensure successful and effective delivery.

Please give us your valuable comments and suggestions about this write-up.