A masters degree project by Alex Silva:

    Does the data match our observations?


You can download the report at


Click on: Does the data match our observations? (High School)


This is a masters degree action research project in 2013 by Alex Silva, a young modeler in Tucson. Alex took Modeling Workshops at ASU as an undergraduate; and at that time he helped Colleen Megowan and Cory Waxman develop the modeling-adapted "Powering our Future" -- a renewable energies approach to the Energy unit.



I quote from his report:


[Before the paradigm lab: ]

Give students the performance task and the rubric for the end of unit project.  They are headed towards a deeper understanding of the relationships between mass, unbalanced force, and acceleration of a system.  They will have just finished units about kinematics so they should already have a good understanding of acceleration, so in this unit they are investigating what causes the acceleration and how exactly acceleration depends on the other two variables.


Show two virtual animations.  One of a realistic simulation and one that does not look realistic.  Then prompt students with the questions: how can 3d models be generated to represent physical observations in the lab and how can 3d models be useful tools to analyze collected data?" ...



PERFORMANCE TASK: (in GRASPS format. This is used in Wiggins/Tighe Understanding by Design. See




Goal: Your task is to design, model, and animate a scene that realistically visualizes the data you collected in the lab, so that it is easier for people viewing the animation to interpret if the data has a causal relationship and matches reality.


Role: You are an engineer that needs to present your data in a visual, easy to understand format.


Audience:  Your clients are lab equipment designers and manufacturers.


Situation: The lab equipment designers and manufacturers are concerned that when their equipment is used, data collected does not represent what actually happens.  Specifically they are concerned that the motion predicted using their data does not match the actual motion of the equipment.  They want to compare your visualization to a recorded video of their equipment in use.


Product/performance:  You will create a visualization of the data you collected to show a wide range of stakeholders the performance of their lab equipment and describe the specific causal or correlational relationship between measured variables.  You will be assessed using the accompanying rubric based on your presentation and the visualization your group produces.  ...                                                                 



The project is based on Alex's summer internship at Raytheon, in Tucson.  Alex wrote,

"At Raytheon, projects are nearly never done individually but instead are always done in groups.  Group work at Raytheon does not mean that one engineer does most of the work, while the other engineers struggle to find out how they can help.  It means that each engineer has a specific set of skills and expertise that they bring to the project and the project wouldn't be possible with out each person's input.  Similarly in my group activities I will be aware of groupings and try to situate groups so that there are students with strengths in 3D modeling, animation, or algebra.  Each student will make significant, measureable contributions to make their final group product.