I have touched on the idea of using Poetry in Physics on my blog post My top five list of features in Office 2007!, but this looks at the issue in more depth and it was a must to write it just one day before the National Poetry Day.
October the 7th will be the National Poetry Day and people across the UK will celebrate poetry. What better way to celebrate than getting your students to engage in Poetry in ways and areas they might have never thought possible?
Last year I used the Math Add-in for Word 2007 to create graphs of the Photoelectric Effect and then asked, in the same worksheet, my pupils to put in rhymes what the graph meant and how it explained the Photoelectric Effect. Obviously, it would have been unfair to ask them to do Poetry and coward away from it myself, so I created the instructions for their task as a poem too (a pretty bad, but maybe not so bad for an Italian with English as a second language). The results were quite remarkable and I was pleasantly surprised to see such good Physics in their explanations and such nice rhymes too.
Here is the task I set for my students:
The red line was added by one of the students in response to the second part of my rhymed instructions, see below.
If this is the Photoelectric equation,
Name its parts with some persuasion!
Kinetic energy, Planck’s constant and even work function
Which symbols and Greek letters go in conjunction?
At this point they had to list the symbols associated to the Photoelectric Effect equation. Then the task carried on:
Ok, you know your symbols and letters in Greek,
Another challenge lies ahead for you Geek!
The metal is swapped with one of work function much higher,
In red the new graph draw, if this knowledge you want to acquire!
Now, about this can you rhyme?
Don’t rush it and take your time
To have some fun and give it a go
And make your explanation flow.
And it doesn’t end there, because one of the best poems came from a student who was supposed to be Dyslexic! His poem is below.
The photoelectric effect is easy
UV light hits the metal causing it to become a little queasy
The metal releases a photoelectron without a fight
More electrons are released when the intensity is increased of the light
As long as the threshold frequency is met
The electrons would be emitted I bet
The threshold frequency for a given object
Is the minimum frequency needed for photoelectric emissions to collect
To escape the potential well
The electron must do a certain amount of work to excel
The work function can be defined
As the minimum work needed to remove an electron blind
That is all you need to know
about the photoelectric effect and potential well
When u hear of this effect
Just think how it could be in your subject
The students went on to merge the best parts of each poem created to form a rap that they then sang and recorded using SongSmith, which can be downloaded free of charge from all teachers on the Partners In Learning Network.
If you want to know more about the Math Add-in and how you could use it with your classes have a look at the Innovid I made below!