**Fall 2008. Essay by student in 12 ^{th} grade physics
course of Matt Greenwolfe, Cary Academy, Cary, NC. Dr. Greewolfe uses Modeling
Instruction.**

** **

**Short Essay Question #1.** Edith Hamilton, a
noted classicist and educator, is quoted as saying, "It has always seemed
strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress
is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest
it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought - that is
to be educated." Please describe an experience or a series of experiences
that have been most meaningful to the growth and development of your
intellectual curiosity.

It was the first day of physics class and I wasn't
sure what to expect. Students from the grade above me had said Dr. Greenwolfe's
physics class wasn't like any other class they had ever taken. When I walked
into the classroom, the setup was different. I didn't see the normal tables
with chairs or even the lab stations with tools you would normally see in a
science classroom. Instead there were tables spread out into a circle and
inside there was another circle of chairs. Leaning against the wall were stacks
of whiteboards and webcams. Everyone else seemed confused when they walked into
the classroom. Needless to say this wasn't what we expected to see in a science
class.

Instead of dividing into groups and performing
experiments to prove what we had learned in a lecture, Dr. Greenwolfe had us
work together to find the answer for ourselves. *We would be faced with a
problem and begin class with a group discussion. Then we would divide into
smaller groups to perform experiments and try to reach a conclusion. After
asking many questions and discussing possible answers we would reach a
conclusion together as a class. This way of learning was really beneficial for
me because I completely understood the concept. Instead of memorizing formulas
and equations I understood where they came from and how to derive them* from the graphs we created.

In the small groups we would use whiteboards to write
down ideas, draw graphs and solve for unknown variables. Using the webcams I
would take pictures of the whiteboards and post them to the class website for
everyone to use as a resource. This method worked really well because we didn't
have to worry about taking notes during class. The class work became our notes
which I would review before every test. Dr. Greenwolfe also understood that
students have different ways of learning: some learn visually, some through
discussion, and others through equations. When we had discussions or created
whiteboards we were required to present the information in at least three
different ways so everyone would be able to understand the material.

One of the most beneficial things I learned in my
physics class was how to draw, interpret, and derive equations from graphs.
Before, in my algebra class I never understood slope. No matter how many times
a teacher or classmate explained it I still didn't understand what it meant. In
my physics class it finally became clear to me. Since my breakthrough my math
classes have become easier and I have found that I can understand what data
means.

Physics class has helped me to look at problems in
different ways so I can solve them. If I don’t understand the data when
it is presented in one way I am able to ask questions and change it, using a
method I can understand. This year in statistics my knowledge from physics
class has been very beneficial because we use a lot of graphs and are
constantly talking about slope. *Thanks to my physics class I am now able to
succeed in my classes and look at problems in different ways.*