|Yeah, that's me and my students.|
In my attempts to bring it to the level of my "criminally gifted" audience, I have turned to my love of movies. (Little snippets to grab their attention, if it doesn't put them to sleep the minute the lights go out.) For this little lesson I turned to a certain film featuring a young hunky Ben Affleck and my Moonlighting crush Bruce Willis, called Armageddon.
We were studying the difference between weight and mass. One being the amount of matter an object has and the other having to do with the gravitational pull against that mass. Now you can imagine what kind of snooze-fest it was in my classroom. Seriously, the only thing my students want to know about weight and mass is how much does a dime bag really weigh and how many buds would that mass have in it. Anyway, I decided to use a clip from the movie that shows the oil-drillers training for their walk on the asteroid. In this clip, Bear (Michael Clark Duncan) is not paying attention to Astronaut Watts instructions. Being the good instructor that she is, Watts gets Bear's attention and tells him she is trying to teach him how to use his suit, so that if she were to kick him in the balls, he wouldn't go flying off into outer space.
Oh, don't get all uppity on me about the balls comments. If you worked in my classroom you would understand that saying "balls" is about as benign as saying "hoo-hoo". My kids can conjugate the F-bomb like nobody's business, so showing a movie clip where they say the word "balls" is nothing. Get over it.
Anyway, I used Bear's predicament as our scenario. First I ask "What would happen to Bear if Watts kicked him in the family jewels while Bear was still on earth?" After several comments about Bear kicking Watts' behind after he could walk again, and how they would kick someone's @$$ if a chick did that do them - we get to the point. The point being that the earth has gravity holding Bear to the ground. It's what makes Bear weigh so much. I then ask "Why would Bear fly into outer space if Watts kicked him in the family jewels?" The right answer is because the moon does not have gravity. It takes a few minutes for them to catch on.
Next we move on to the topic of mass. "Now did Bear change in size when he went to the moon?" I asked. No. He is still the same size. His mass does not change. It remains the same on the moon as it is on earth. This they seemed to grasp fairly quickly, so we return to the weight portion and start to review.
Again, I ask "Where would Bear go if he was kicked in the pants on earth?" Answers varied from falling on his knees and crying to beating the snot out of Watts. Eventually we get to the idea that he does not leave the earth's atmosphere because the earth has gravity and Bear has weight.
Then I make the fatal mistake. I ask "Where would Bear go if Watts kicked him in the pants while he was on the moon?" Silence. Then the lone voice from the back of the room shouts...............................WAIT FOR IT.............. "He'd go to Uranus!" The class erupts and students (OK, and teachers) spent the next 20 minutes trying to regain some composer. Yep, another fine teaching moment brought to you by Ms. Tastrophie's Criminally Gifted & Talented 8th Grade Class.