Monday, July 16, 2012

Soda Ban, Lesson Plan, History group not a fan

It was good to see the Scarlett students trooping into the School of Education. Putting myself in their shoes (that was me less than forty years ago! ),  I can imagine they were pretty excited. One of the students I have helped, L, was ready to be heard. He sounded more confident than most of us would addressing the entire SECMAC crowd plus librarians, teachers, and UM faculty. He encouraged us to be creative. We should bring them to class more often.

The math folks, minus Mr. Gilmartin who was lost in history, got together with Laurie Olmsted, media specialist in Birmingham Public Schools to discuss a possible lesson plan we could build around the "soda ban." I was struck by how different the projects were. The pure mathematician in me was intrigued with Kathlyen's rolling cup geometry problem. Half of us had statistical problems in mind: gathering the views of consumers, lexical analysis of the respected sources on the web, and a two-week clinical trial examining the actual effect on soda consumption if  large sodas are banned. 

Laurie had good suggestions for where we could data for our project (e.g. MeL), and helped us with the scope. Google Docs is pretty amusing to use when there are six people editing simultaneously, but after the giggling died down, it became apparent we were connecting in a way that is better than conversation (which devolves quickly in a small space if there is more than channel open), or chat (where you are focused on the tip of the discussion). I can imagine some interesting classroom activities built around parallel development of a document.  But I digress.

After the class merged, we discussed our project with the history group. They observed that our chosen project (the clinical trials) didn't seem to be answering the right question. Don't we want to know whether the ban will reduce obesity? That's true. It's also a very difficult problem. Observing changes in obesity would take, at a minimum, months. This in turn would make it more difficult to get participants.  However, the effect of soda consumption on obesity has already been studied. So if the students can determine the link from the ban to soda consumption, then they can make inferences about the effect of the ban on obesity. The debate helped refine our thinking.

1 comment:

  1. I felt compelled to comment on this post because I am fairly certain I was a part of the history group that gave you your troubles. I think it is very interesting how different the two content areas approached the whole idea of the soda study -- I think that is of course in the nature of the content areas we work in. I particularly like what you say about the debate helping you refine your thinking. I too find it refreshing to work with math&science minds to help me think about things in a different way. They often provide perspective that differs from my own. I don't want to sound like i'm playing into stereotypes, but hey, there is a reason they exist.