Day 14: Galileo and Veritasium

Our next set of investigations in Great Experiments is focused on Galileo. When I was prepping for the class this summer, I read Galileo for the first time, and one of my first thoughts (besides, “Wow! This is amazing! Why haven’t I read this before?”) was how much it was like a Veritasium video. That also seemed like a gentler way in for the kids, so we started with this one:

Actually, we started with the Khan Academy one to get a sense of how and why the video would be formatted in this man-on-the-street way. After these two videos, we had a few volunteers read a good section of this part of Two New Sciences aloud (with lots of pausing to discuss what it meant).

When we’d had enough of that for one sitting (and when we’d made some strong connections back to the Veritasium video), we stopped and read a secondary source (the page that linked me to that one, here) to ourselves.

Then we talked about what they had read—what was confusing and what they understood—and started our plans for recreating the ramp experiment. They talked at their tables, came up and looked at a setup for it, and decided on some ideas for taking data on Tuesday.


One group was discussing making a water clock (I really hope they do!). Others immediately went to video analysis and thought about the details of how to make that work. We will spend our next class taking data and working through all the problems with getting good results. I think it will be frustrating and fun. And hopefully we will start looking for patterns by the end of that day.

3 thoughts on “Day 14: Galileo and Veritasium

    1. That’s a good question. Right now, the short answer is that I don’t think so. I like keeping the units in physics (especially the early ones) really tight because I think they understand them better if they can cycle back to use them in context. But I do think they could be useful either in a 2nd year course or maybe in the spring of a first year course (I usually have an experimental unit around March/April where I try different things or do projects—I could imagine revisiting some of these things in a historical context there—and it would be a lot richer of an experience coming to it with more understanding). I actually like the March/April idea more and more because it would be a natural way to introduce a social justice thread in the course. (How can you look at the historical context without looking at the social context, too?) I also think they would get way more out of it coming back to it with a little more understanding (rather than crowding it in with trying to sort out the concepts for the first time, too). I hope I get a chance with a yearlong class again soon to figure this out! 🙂

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