FASTLY - Faith & Science Teaching

Activity Map: Science, Technology, and Service

Overview

What's the Focus

Technology and science are distinct but closely related. In the United States, the Next Generation Science Standards incorporate an increased emphasis on technology and engineering. This activity map aims to help students see how science, technology, and service can be connected. It encourages them to see applied science and technology as connected with concern for others, to think about justice issues in society that reach beyond their own immediate concerns, and to engage them in behaviors that seek the good of others and the wider world. It offers a way of shaping practice in the science classroom to show its connections with the call to love and serve the world. Teaching FASTly connects motives, beliefs, and practices.

Throughout the activities in this activity map, students have opportunities to see that applied science can be, and has been, used for both good and bad, and therefore there is a need to exercise discernment as scientific knowledge is applied. As the teacher, use these activities to lead students to reflect on this question: God has given us knowledge and skills…how are we using them to seek his kingdom and love our neighbor?

A further dimension can be added to this Activity Map by combining it with another map, Labs and Community, which focuses students’ attention on how we seek one another’s well-being within the process of learning science in school.

It is not necessary to use every activity in your class. This activity map offers a range of possibilities to enrich your existing teaching resources. While some of the activities form a possible sequence, you can select the ones most suitable for your context and adapt them to connect to your own plan for learning.

Discover activities offer brief ways into the topic and are designed to set the stage and get students thinking.

Delve activities promote more extended learning. This is where the main substance of the lesson unfolds.

Debrief activities bring the sequence of the study to a thoughtful close by helping students reflect on how they have been invited to see science and faith anew.

You can mix and match these activities as you wish. It is not intended that all these activities should be used with the same class.

Quick Stop Lesson Plan

The best way to use this activity map is to explore all the activities and see which ones fit in your particular teaching context. If you just need a quick way to explore the themes of the map, you can use the links below to preview and download a sampler of three activities selected from this activity map.

PreviewDownload Files

Discover Activities

Discover activities offer brief ways into the topic and are designed to set the stage and get students thinking.

  • Activity

    30 min

    Science, Technology, and Motives

  • Activity

    25 min

    Science and Shalom

  • Activity

    25 min

    Knowledge…for What?

Science, Technology, and Motives

In Brief

This activity introduces distinctions between basic science, applied science, and technology, and engages students in exploring how each of these relate to faith-informed motivations.

Goals

Students will understand the distinctions between basic science, applied science, and technology.

Students will understand that each of these can be related to various faith-informed motives.

Thinking Ahead

This activity also appears in the Activity Map on Motives, Virtues and Science: The Story of DNA, where you can find further activities that relate to motivations and science.

Our often untested assumptions about the nature of science and technology and the behavior of scientists can have a strong influence on how we see the relationship between faith, science, and technology.

This activity engages students in exploring how motives relate to different aspects of science and technology. It is intended as a vehicle for seeing possible connections, and not for providing a set of fixed right answers. It can be used as an introduction to prepare for work on motives, character, and worldview in connection with the science of DNA in other activities in this activity map. Consider whether any of the motives explored here are evident in your teaching practices.

Related Book Review: Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think by Elaine Howard Ecklund.

Preparing the Activity

Needed:

Directions:

It is helpful to print the activity cards and the motive cards on different colored paper.

Teaching the Activity

Explain to students that they are going to begin to think about the relationship of science and technology, and also about how faith can inform the motives of those who work in science or technology. If the concepts are new, first ask students what they think the difference is between basic science and applied science.

Elicit that while both engage in research and develop models, basic science seeks to generate general explanations, models, theories, and predictions (such as how cells work), while applied science seeks to generate explanations, models, and predictions that help solve a specific applied problem (such as curing a disease). Then ask how these two sciences are different from technology, and elicit that technology involves building solutions or products, often drawing on the findings of science, to meet particular goals (such as developing a marketable vaccine).

Ask students to work in pairs. Give each student a categories sheet and the two sets of cards (provided in Identifying Assumptions). Ask them to work first with the cards that list various kinds of science- and technology-related activities and to use the category sheet to sort them under Basic Science, Applied Science, or Technology. Expected answers are as follows:

Basic Science

  • Researching the properties of electromagnetic waves
  • Developing a theoretical model of the structure of DNA
  • Deriving three-dimensional momentum conservation laws
  • Developing a classification of rain forest plants

Applied Science

  • Investigating optimal materials for use as WiFi receivers
  • Developing a model to explain why a disease spreads rapidly and predict how it might spread further
  • Researching factors that could make nuclear power more efficient
  • Researching the effect of car mass on the damage sustained in a collision
  • Researching how different designs for aircraft wings affect fuel consumption
  • Studying rain forest plants to determine which of them have medicinal potential

Technology

  • Designing more efficient wireless devices
  • Building a nuclear power plant
  • Studying the relative effectiveness of alternate methods for slowing the progress of a disease
  • Developing a procedure for genetic testing during pregnancy
  • Developing a car design that maximizes driver safety when the car crashes
  • Developing a procedure for extracting a medical ingredient from a rain forest plant

Circulate the classroom as students complete this exercise to look for common misunderstandings. After a brief discussion to review the results and check student comprehension, tell students that the second set of cards lists a number of motivations that Christians might have for investing time and effort in science or technology.

Again in pairs, ask students to see whether any of these match best with basic science, applied science, or technology. Some will be easier to place than others. After allowing students to wrestle with this for a few minutes, point out that correct answers are less clear in this part of the essay, but ask what kinds of motivations fit best at the technology end of the continuum and which fit best at the basic science end.

In conclusion, ask students to reflect quietly for a moment on which of the motivations most strongly speak to them personally. For more activities that look at faith in relation to motives for basic science, see the Activity Map on Faith and the Nature of Science and the Activity Map on Motives, Virtues, and Science: The Story of DNA.

Science and Shalom

In Brief

This introductory activity guides students to consider what shalom is and how it may be related to science.

Goals

Students will understand the concept of shalom and its four key relationships.

Students will understand how science, applied science, and technology can be connected to shalom.

Thinking Ahead

This activity aims to help students see learning about science and technology in a wider context by placing it within our relationships with God, creation, others, and ourselves. It engages students in thinking through how examples of applied science and technology relate to each of these relationships. To prepare for discussion, and before teaching this activity, think through some examples of how science and shalom relate. Some examples are given after question 2. Think about your regular teaching practices outside of this activity. How often to you encourage students to make connections between science, technology, and any of these relationships?

Relevant Book Review: Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society by Bruno Latour.

Preparing the Activity

Needed:

Directions:

Consider moving the desks or tables to form a circle for whole class discussion.

Teaching the Activity

Explain to students that they are going to be thinking about how science and technology relate to society and to faith by looking at the biblical concept of shalom. Begin by sharing the following quote from Nicholas Wolterstorff provided as a slide in Science and Shalom.

“In shalom each person enjoys justice… Shalom goes beyond justice, however. Shalom incorporates right relationships in general, whether or not those are required by justice: right relationships to God, to one’s fellow human beings, to nature, and to oneself. The shalom community is not merely the just community, but is the responsible community in which God’s laws for our multifaceted existence are obeyed. It is more even than that. We may all have acted justly and responsibly, and yet shalom may be missing: for the community may be lacking delight… shalom incorporates delight in one’s relationships. To dwell in shalom is to find delight in living rightly before God, to find delight in living rightly in one’s physical surroundings, to find delight in living rightly with one’s fellow human beings, to find delight even in living rightly with oneself.” 1

Unless it is a very familiar term in your school community, ask students if they have heard the term “shalom” before (and where they think it comes from. Explain that it is a Hebrew word that is often translated in the Bible as “peace” but involves more than absence of conflict. It is a term that evokes the way things ought to be, that is, everything standing in healthy relationship to everything else. Ask students to identify from the quotation which relationships are at stake in shalom (God, creation, neighbor, and self), and to give examples for each relationship of how the well-being of individuals and their communities can become damaged when the relationship is distorted or broken.

An easy way to remember the four relationships is to have students point upward, down, outward, and inward. It may be helpful to think through with students how all of these relationships interact in society. For instance, if a local water supply is contaminated with lead, that can leave people angry at their leaders and municipal water providers, damaged in their own bodies and anxious about their health, suspicious of their water (a basic natural resource that they need to survive and that has been compromised), and even angry at God for what has happened to them.

Ask students to ponder the following questions. See Activity 1: Science, Technology, and Motives for an introduction to the distinctions used here. If you do not use that activity, make sure students understand the distinctions before proceeding.

  • Can the pursuit of basic science impact shalom? How can it contribute to the health or the damaging of these relationships?
  • Can the pursuit of applied science impact shalom? How can it contribute to the health or the damaging of these relationships?
  • Can the development of technology impact shalom? How can it contribute to the health or the damaging of these relationships? 

Ask for specific examples, not just a general yes or no. Give students a chance to share their ideas. Help students see how the potential to do good or harm increases as we move from basic science concepts to their application and to the development of technologies. Then present one of the following using the slide(s) in Science and Shalom as an example of how a particular technology can be looked at in light of shalom. The Venn diagram format used in this lesson is repeated in later activities. If time allows, have students work through an additional example in groups or as a whole class.

The following examples are included:

  1. Nuclear Energy
  2. Air Bags
  3. Warning Systems for Emergencies

Whichever topic(s) you choose, ask students how science is involved, how technology is also involved, and how the relationships that make up shalom could be affected. Encourage students to see the complexity of the issues. Often scientific and technological advances are accompanied by both positive and negative effects. For example, pesticides are useful for protecting crops and improving yield, but they can also cause other living things to suffer, degrade water supplies, and poison humans. Such actions do not honor God.

The goal in this activity is not to investigate any given issue in detail, but simply to introduce the idea that we can think about science in both its application and its connection with technology as belonging together with the health of our key relationships.

 

1Nicholas Wolterstorff, Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004, p.23. Used with permission.

Knowledge…for What?

In Brief

This activity engages students in reflecting on reasons for seeking knowledge. It invites students to see compassion and reconciliation as possible goals for learning that relate to the uses of science.

Goals

Students will reflect on their own motives for learning and on possible motives for pursuing science and developing technology.

Students will reflect on the relationship of love and compassion to curiosity and control.

Thinking Ahead

How do students see the basic task of learning itself? In his book To Know as We are Known, Parker Palmer writes that curiosity and control are two common and basic motives for gaining knowledge. He argues, “If curiosity and control are the primary motives for our knowing, we will generate a knowledge that eventually carries us not toward life but death” (p.8).1 He suggests, instead, that our desire for knowledge should be driven by compassion or love. “A knowledge born of compassion aims not at exploiting and manipulating creation but at reconciling the world to itself. The mind motivated by compassion reaches out to know as the heart reaches out to love” (p.8). 1

This activity aims to engage students in reflecting on these claims and the questions they raise. It begins by making students’ existing assumptions visible. When our assumptions become visible to us, it increases the possibility that change may happen. Remember that this activity speaks to teachers as much as learners. Use it to reflect on your own motivations for knowing and how they might be reflected in your teaching practices and in the way you talk to students about why they should learn.

Relevant Book Review: Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society by Bruno Latour.

Preparing the Activity

Needed:

  • One pre-cut set of “motives for learning” sorting word cards per student from Knowing for What

  • One blank piece of paper for each student

  • Knowing for What slides and a projector

Directions:

To save class time, you will want to cut up the “motives for learning” word cards from Knowing for What prior to the class session keeping a set together with a paper clip or envelope. Each student will need a complete set.

Teaching the Activity

Give each student a set of “motives for learning” word cards cut apart from Knowing for What. Tell students to arrange the cards on their desk so that terms they think are closely related to each other are closer together and words they think are less closely related are placed further apart. As students work, walk around the room and observe their placement of terms.

Once students are done, suggest that they photograph their arrangement so they can reference it later. Ask them to leave it undisturbed as they continue with the steps below.

Next, give each student a blank sheet of paper and ask them to write as many motives or goals for learning as they can think of. Why do we invest time and effort into studying things? You can ask them to specifically think about reasons for learning science or leave it open-ended to learning/knowledge in general. Some examples of what students might write include: getting into college, enjoyment/satisfaction in learning new things, getting a good job, making money, helping people, etc….

After students have been given sufficient time, display this quote from Parker Palmer which is included as a slide in Knowing for what:

“We are inquisitive creatures, forever wanting to get inside of things and discover their hidden secrets. Our curiosity is piqued by the closed and wrapped box. We want to know its contents, and when the contents are out we want to open them too – down to the tiniest particle of their construction. We are also creatures attracted by power; we want knowledge to control our environment, each other, ourselves. Since many of the boxes we have opened contained secrets that have given us more mastery over life, curiosity and control are joined as the passion behind our knowing” (p.7). 1

Have students circle each thing they wrote that relates to curiosity and draw a box around each thing that relates to control. Next have students share anything that did not get boxed or circled. “Helping people” could be an example of something less related to curiosity or control. Have students think about what category the things that are not boxed or circled might fit into. Then share the following quotes from Palmer, also included as slides:

“If curiosity and control are the primary motives for our knowing, we will generate a knowledge that eventually carries us not toward life but death” (p.8). 1

“A knowledge born of compassion aims not at exploiting and manipulating creation but at reconciling the world to itself. The mind motivated by compassion reaches out to know as the heart reaches out to love” (p. 8). 1

Have students again look at their lists and underline anything they wrote that relates to compassion and love.

Spend time discussing the difference between curiosity/control, and compassion/delight as motivations for knowledge and learning. For example, curiosity and control both relate to mastery, whereas compassion and delight relate to seeing the simplicity, fragility, and beauty of the natural world and seeking to serve. Make clear that by “curiosity” Palmer means not just being interested in things, but rather a selfish desire to know at all costs, and “control” is shorthand for a self-centered desire for power over the world.

  • How might each motivation, if it becomes central, affect the kinds of things we seek to learn?
  • How might each motivation affect how we apply/use our knowledge?

Read the following quotes a couple of times, pausing for students to reflect on the words.

“A knowledge that springs from love may require us to change, even sacrifice, for the sake of what we know. It is easy to be curious and controlling. It is difficult to love. But if we want a knowledge that will rebind our broken world, we must reach for that deeper passion” (p.9). 1

“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”  1 Corinthians 8:1b NET

Discuss with students the following questions:

  • Are there times when controlling things through technology and applied science contributes to shalom? Examples might be developing ways to control disease or developing precise control of vehicles for improved safety.
  • Can there be a kind of control motivated by love instead of just by the selfish desire for power? Help students see that Palmer’s point is not that we should give up technology or all forms of control over the world—he wants us to “rebind” the world—but rather that we need to examine our motives to see whether we are basically driven by love or selfish desire for power. He is asking about what is ultimately in the driving seat.
  • Is it wrong to pursue basic or theoretical science because it seems less directly related to compassion? Can this kind of science be motivated by love, such as love for God and love of the order and beauty of creation?

Finally, return to the initial card-sorting activity. Ask students, in light of the discussion, what does their card arrangement reveal about how they think about the aims of learning? Give students a few minutes to journal their thoughts from this activity.

You may wish to conclude with a prayer for discernment for both teacher and students to understand what motives drive our learning and how we use what we have learned.

 

1Brief excerpts from pp. 7-9 from To Know as We Are Known by Parker J. Palmer. Copyright (c) 1983, 1993 by Parker J. Palmer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Delve Activities

Delve activities promote more extended learning. This is where the main substance of the lesson unfolds.

  • Activity

    30 min

    Projectile Motion

  • Activity

    35 min

    The EM Spectrum

  • Activity

    HW + 30 minHomework

    Driver Safety

Projectile Motion

In Brief

After solving projectile motion problems using kinematics equations, students will reflect on the different applications of this knowledge and see how applied physics knowledge can be connected with shalom or with its opposite.

Goals

Students will understand and practice the use of kinematics equations for modeling 2-dimensional motion.

Students will consider the relationship between scientific knowledge (its diverse applications) and shalom.

Thinking Ahead

This activity would fit well as an introduction to the use of kinematics equations for modeling 2-dimensional motion. The problems all deal with projectiles launched horizontally, which means the initial vertical velocity is zero. Students should be familiar with equations for calculating displacement, final velocity, and acceleration.

After a few 2D practice problems/calculations with the whole class in which the teacher illustrates the basic process for solving 2D problems, students can work in small groups to solve the calculation questions included on the pdf. The calculations that are a part of this activity all deal with objects launched horizontally, not at an angle. Sample problems for whole class instruction are provided in Projectile Motion 1.

In preparation for leading the discussions in this activity, think for yourself through the questions raised: how are the motivations for developing specific scientific knowledge, the knowledge itself, and the applications we choose for that knowledge related to questions of good and bad, shalom and suffering? How can students be engaged in thinking about these connections?

Consider also the implications for your own teaching. What implicit messages are taught about how we should think about science by the way problems are framed?  Does it matter whether we teach science as an isolated body of knowledge or as connected with the changes it leads to as we apply scientific knowledge? How might concrete teaching practices, such as what examples we use, affect how students who go into scientific work think about their calling?

Preparing the Activity

Needed:

Directions:

Pairs or groups of students who are sitting together will each need one of the three versions of the problem on Projectile Motion 2. Copy one third as many sheets as you have groups and cut before the class session to save time.

Teaching the Activity

Have students work with partners or in small groups to practice 2D motion calculations. Give every pair/group Projectile Motion 1 or an equivalent resource from your course and also one of the versions of Projectile Motion 2. Pairs or groups of students working together should be given the same version. Version 1 is simply numbers without a specific context. Versions 2 and 3 utilize the same numbers but frame the problem in the context of dropping aid and dropping a bomb.

Walk around the room while students are calculating the answers to provide help as needed. The numerical answer is the same for each version since the same numbers are used, but the context of the problem is different.

After checking that each group arrived at the correct numerical answer, ask groups to share whether the activity suggests that what we can do as a result of our knowledge of projectile motion is good, bad, morally complex, or indifferent. Because the context of each problem is different the answers should vary. After their initial answers, have students share the context of their problem. If you did the Venn diagram activity in Activity 2: Science and Shalom you could use that format again with “projectile motion” as the term in the center; a slide is provided for that purpose in Projectile Motion.

Ask students further: Is knowing about projectile motion itself good or bad? Have them consider the motivations for knowing, the theory itself, and the application of knowledge. The study of projectile motion was initially motivated by people wanting to be more precise when using catapults. The kinematic equations used in this activity were developed later in connection with Newton’s Laws of motion and gravity. New scientific discoveries are not always initially motivated by pure interest in science. The same knowledge can then ultimately be applied in all of the example situations and can create the capacity for both good and ill. Knowledge of physics is connected to shalom depending on the ends for which we develop it and the applications that we choose for it.

Have students brainstorm other applications of 2D kinematics. What kinds of implications would they have for the four relationships that need to flourish for shalom to grow, that is, God, creation, others, self?

If time allows, this link offers a visual of projectile motion and relates to the application of dropping aid.

The EM Spectrum

In Brief

This activity engages students in considering how our knowledge about the EM spectrum is connected to promoting or eroding shalom.

Goals

Students will understand that current technologies depend on scientific knowledge of the EM spectrum.

Students will consider the relationship between scientific knowledge (its diverse applications) and shalom.

Thinking Ahead

Determine how in-depth you want your lesson on the EM spectrum to be and prepare as needed to teach that, drawing on your usual resources. The material provided here is intended to bookend a lesson about the EM spectrum.

In preparation for leading the discussions in this activity, think through the questions raised for yourself: how are the motivations for developing specific scientific knowledge, the knowledge itself, and the technological applications we develop using that knowledge related to questions of good and bad, shalom and suffering? How can you help students see and explore these connections?

Consider also the implications for your own teaching practices and what implicit messages are taught about how we should think about science by the way problems are framed. Does it matter whether we teach science as an isolated body of knowledge or as connected with the changes it leads to as we apply scientific knowledge? How might either way of teaching affect how students who go into scientific work think about their calling?

Relevant Book Review: Religion and Innovation: Antagonists or Partners? Edited by Donald A. Yerxa.

Preparing the Activity

Needed:

Directions:

Make copies of the EM spectrum template from The EM Spectrum 2 and give two copies per pair or group.

Teaching the Activity

Explain to students that they are going to study the Electromagnetic (EM) Spectrum and also how our understanding of it can be used to promote or erode shalom. Considering how the development of technology affects our basic relationships is one facet of considering how applied science and technology can relate to faith. This is part of Teaching FASTly.

Begin by having the class ponder whether the EM Spectrum has anything to do with shalom and the flourishing of our relationships with God, creation, others, and ourselves. If you did the Venn diagram activity in Activity 2: Science and Shalom you could use that format again with “The EM Spectrum” as the term in the center. A slide is provided for that purpose in The EM Spectrum.

Next teach students about the EM spectrum. A PDF with suggested teaching points and a diagram of the EM spectrum is included: The EM Spectrum 1.

Tell students that scientific understanding of these frequencies has enabled the development of technologies that now depend on them. Focus in on waves of frequency 2.4 GHz. Transverse waves of this frequency include radio waves, microwaves, and Wi-Fi signals. Project a list of the common uses for wireless internet access (see examples bulleted below). Ask students to name at least one way each use promotes shalom, and a way in which it erodes shalom. Students may work in groups or pairs for this activity using one copy of The EM Spectrum 2 template.

  • social media (Facebook, Snapchat)

Example:

Promoting Shalom: Using your Facebook account to share information about donating to disaster relief.

Eroding Shalom: Spending an hour on Facebook coveting what other people have or posting derogatory comments.

  • GPS devices
  • smart homes
  • immediate access to information
  • mobile payment
  • government or corporate monitoring
  • photo sharing

Have groups share and discuss their answers. If you wish, you could have students use the Venn diagram from Activity 2: Science and Shalom to draw together the class’s observations. As in Activity 3: Knowledge … for What? encourage students to reflect on the motivations that lead us to intensively investigate particular areas of scientific knowledge, the knowledge itself, and the uses to which we put scientific knowledge.

In pairs or groups, assign students a different frequency in the EM spectrum and ask them to look into what uses exist for that range of frequencies.

You can assign the following frequencies:

  • 10^4 Hz (radio)
  • 10^8 Hz (microwave)
  • 10^12 Hz (infrared)
  • 10^15 Hz (visible light)
  • 10^16 Hz (ultraviolet)
  • 10^18 Hz (x-ray)
  • 10^20 Hz (gamma ray)

Each pair/group should fill in their second copy of The EM Spectrum 2 template. Once students are done, have them share their template with the class. Then hang them in order from low to high frequency on an open classroom wall or in the hallway, creating your own visual of the EM spectrum and its uses.

The following sites provide helpful information about different frequencies of EM radiation. Suggest these sites as sources for students or allow them to search for their own.

Driver Safety

In Brief

High school is a perfect time to talk about driving safety as many students are just learning to drive and/or getting their license. How does an understanding of physics concepts applied to automobile technologies relate to safety and to loving others?

Goals

Students will understand that the pursuit of driver safety draws upon physics and will understand the relevance of specific physics concepts.

Students will consider the relationship between scientific knowledge (its diverse applications) and shalom.

Thinking Ahead

This activity is about helping students see how science, technology, and shalom can be related. A discussion of driving safety can be connected to Newton’s Laws, momentum and impulse, and/or work and energy. Decide at what point(s) in your own curriculum this discussion best fits. This could serve as a single topic or be returned to briefly at appropriate points in your physics curriculum.

This activity engages students in making connections on two levels. Conceptually, it continues the pattern in preceding activities of inviting students to see how scientific knowledge can be relevant to actions in the world that build up or erode shalom and therefore help us to love God by loving our neighbor. Concretely it places this learning in the context of community by beginning and ending with interactions with family members outside class, which reinforces the theme that it is not simply a matter of our own safety, but about how we work together for everyone’s safety. How does this compare with your usual teaching practices? How often do you place student learning in the context of communal responsibility?

Preparing the Activity

Needed:

  • You may wish to create an online forum, or provide copies of Driver Safety for the initial survey questions, and the brief response form for the closing activity.

  • You may also use the slides in Driver Safety to review with students the science and shalom framework introduced in Activity 2: Science and Shalom.

Teaching the Activity

Explain to students that they will be considering the relationship between physics concepts, car-related technologies, and care for the well-being of others and ourselves. Considering how the development of technology affects our basic relationships is one facet of how applied science and technology can relate to faith is part of Teaching FASTly.

Before the class period in which you intend to introduce this activity, assign students to discuss the following questions with a family member or friend. You may provide a link to an online forum or provide copies of Driver Safety to guide their discussions. They should jot down a few ideas based on their discussion to share in an online forum setting or bring to class. You may also use the slides in Driver Safety to review with students the science and shalom framework introduced in Activity 2: Science and Shalom.

Pre-assignment Questions:

  1. As someone who travels on the road, either as a driver or a passenger, how important is it to you that drivers are knowledgeable and drive safely?
  2. As someone who does or will someday have a driver’s license, what steps have you taken, or are you taking, to be sure that your own driving is safe?
  3. How does safe driving relate to loving others and yourself?
  4. How might understanding physics help us practice this form of love?

At the beginning of class take a few minutes for students to share their thoughts. If they posted responses online that you looked at ahead of time, select a few answers to share to get the discussion going. Ask them specifically: Which question did your respondents struggle most to answer? Why do you think that is?

Depending on the physics concepts you are currently covering, present and discuss the following driving safety ideas with your students.

Newton’s Laws (view the Activity Map on Newton’s Laws)

On a very basic level, awareness of Newton’s Laws can be related to safe driving.

  • Since objects in motion stay in motion unless acted on by an unbalanced force (1st Law), what motion will your car experience if it is icy and your tires lack traction with the ground?
  • When two things come in contact, such as in a car accident, we know that they each experience an equal magnitude of force (3rd Law). If the two vehicles have unequal mass, how will their resulting accelerations compare? (2nd Law)?
  • How could Newton’s 1st Law be used to explain to passengers why they need to wear their seat belts?

Momentum-Impulse

The momentum-impulse equation says that the change in momentum of an object is equal to the impulse it experiences (F • t = m • ∆v).

  • Why is the crumple zone an important feature in cars? In the event of a collision, what makes a larger car with a larger crumple zone safer than a small car with very little crumple zone? (The crumple zone increases the stopping time of a car, which in turn decreases the stopping force. A car with a greater crumple zone traveling with the same momentum as a smaller car will come to rest with a smaller force acting for a larger period of time. Also, the crumple zone keeps the car from bouncing upon impact. Bouncing relates to a greater change in momentum, which in turn delivers a greater impulse, and thus force.)
  • Suppose your brakes stop working and you must veer off the road to avoid hitting other vehicles. What sorts of surfaces would you look for to stop your vehicle’s motion? Explain your answer using the momentum-impulse equation. (Softer surfaces such as a snowbank versus a concrete barrier will increase the stopping time, which in turn decreases the force experienced while your car is coming to rest.)

Work and Energy

The kinetic energy of an object is equal to the work done on the object (0.5 • m • v2 = F • d).

  • When stopping a car, the stopping distance is proportional to the velocity squared. How does the work-energy equation relate to safe following distance? If you double your speed, by what factor should your stopping distance change? (It should quadruple.)

As you discuss the above ideas in the context of your regular lesson(s), be sure to include time for students to consider the relationships between scientific knowledge, applied science, and technology, and how these connections can help us to protect the people in our cars as well as others on the road. You could have students complete a diagram sheet as in Activity 2: Science and Shalom for each example or for road safety as a whole.

Finally, return to the starting discussion about which questions were easier for the respondents to students’ questions to answer. Assign students to return to those they interviewed and explain to them what they have learned about how an understanding of physics and its relevance to technology is part of how we figure out how to be safe on the road and how that relates to being committed to the wellbeing of others and caring for ourselves. Discuss briefly beforehand how to communicate new learning with humility and respect. Ask students to return a signed note from their respondents indicating that they explained the topic clearly and graciously.

Debrief Activities

Debrief activities bring the sequence of the study to a thoughtful close by helping students reflect on how they have been invited to see science and faith anew. 

  • Activity

    HW + 90 minHomework

    Showing Connections

  • Activity

    HW + 5 minHomework

    Sharing Knowledge

Showing Connections

In Brief

This concluding activity allows students to reflect on what they have learned as it relates to shalom and love for others and to demonstrate their understanding.

Goals

Students demonstrate understanding of how science, technology, and shalom can be related, both in principle and through a specific example.

Students review key physics concepts.

Thinking Ahead

This activity assesses students’ understanding of the ideas in this Activity Map by having them reflect on the main issues discussed and evaluate a specific physics concept in terms of how it promotes or erodes shalom. It allows you to assess whether students see the connections that have been the focus of the various preceding activities. Because they have been engaged in doing something similar and repeatedly throughout the other activities, students should feel empowered, rather than put on the spot, as they complete this assignment. Consider how to frame the activity so that students can approach it in terms of showing what they can do, rather than trying to avoid being caught making mistakes.

Preparing the Activity

Needed:

Directions:

Copy the grading rubric Showing Connections for students or post a copy online where students can reference it. Copy one-half as many sheets as you have students (since there are two per page) and cut in half before the class session to save time.

Teaching the Activity

Invite students to reflect back on the year/semester. Point out that many of the scientific ideas they have learned have a variety of applications, and that applying scientific knowledge and developing technologies are part of how we make choices that either seek shalom or erode it. God calls us to use discernment in light of our scientific knowledge and to care for each other and the world.

Give students time in class or assign them before class to complete a journal entry reflecting on physics knowledge, its application to technology, shalom, and discernment. Use the following prompt: Do to others what you would want done to you, and love your neighbor as yourself.

What do these central Christian commands have to do with the following? Be specific:

  • Motivations for understanding and applying physics?
  • The way we go about learning physics in school?
  • The technological uses to which knowledge of physics can be applied?

Next, instruct students to pick a specific physics concept from the year and a presentation format such as paper, PowerPoint, poster, podcast, etc. Students should review the physics concept and then research how applications related to that particular concept can be used to either promote or erode shalom and the health of our relationship with God, others, creation and/or themselves. They should then prepare a brief presentation explaining these connections.

If you want, suggest that students use the Venn diagram format from Activity 2: Science and Shalom to organize their thoughts.

After completing their presentation, students could be required to share it with a friend or family member.

Sharing Knowledge

In Brief

In this activity, students show their progress in seeing how learning physics relates to shalom and discernment by sharing their thinking with others throughout the year.

Goals

Students demonstrate understanding of how science, technology, and shalom can be related.

Students practice articulating their understanding to others.

Thinking Ahead

This activity should be carried on throughout the year, with students posting information at intervals. Determine whether you will have students reflect once per semester, once per quarter, or assign a few students to each unit/chapter. Consider also whether an online format, such as a blog or wiki, or a physical bulletin board will work best in your setting.

This activity engages students in using the categories explored in this activity map to think about specific scientific topics and their applications. Therefore it can be used as evidence of learning. At the same time, it invites students to reflect on how sharing their learning can itself contribute to the flourishing of others. Teaching FASTly involves taking the whole relational context of learning into account. Consider how often your teaching practices direct students’ attention not only to the content being learned, but to how they can seek one another’s good and the responsibilities that come with new knowledge.

Preparing the Activity

Needed:

  • Bulletin board or an online environment such as padlet.com

Directions:

Decide whether to use a bulletin board or an online environment such as padlet.com, and prepare the display space before commencing the activity.

Teaching the Activity

At intervals throughout the year have students reflect back on the knowledge that they have gained and how there is a need for discernment as we consider the motivations for and applications of scientific understanding in technologies. On a bulletin board or online have the following words posted:

Science and Technology — promoting and eroding shalom.

Have students consider how technological applications of a specific concept or idea both promote and erode shalom, and then create a summary that explains the connections. For instance:

Pesticide allows more food to be produced so more people have access to food. However, pesticides have the potential to harm birds and fish, which erodes shalom in terms of our relationship with creation. Pesticides can also transfer poisons to humans, which means we are not acting well toward one another or being fully responsible before God, and anxiety about our food is not healthy for our own sense of peace. Scientific investigation can help us understand how to reduce harmful consequences. Seeking shalom means asking hard questions about pesticides and investigating constructive responses.

You may suggest that students use the Venn diagram format from Activity 2: Science and Shalom to organize their thoughts.

Give students a due date for adding a post, or more than one over the year, to the bulletin board or online forum. After reading students’ posts you may choose particular ones for whole class discussion. You could also provide a mechanism for students to comment on what they learned through each other’s posts, either through in-class conversation or a response section of the display. At the beginning and end of the process, discuss how the display itself, and the process of gaining understanding and sharing it with others, can itself be a form of seeking shalom. What good can come from such a process? Ask students to consider how they could share what they have learned outside of the class, perhaps through social media.