Insights for Action

The right tech for the job

The right tech for the job

A small trebuchet in action

This Trebuchet is a bit puny compared to the one at Warwick Castle. But it’s a fascinating piece of engineering, and certainly makes a bit of a difference from doing bisections with a compass. Here’s why I selected this as “the right tech” to use in school outreach work.

This is old work now, but I learnt a lot getting involved in it. We seem to have designed a school curriculum with the sole intended outcome of putting students off statistics for life. I assume that wasn’t done on purpose, but that is the effect. There seems to be a particular emphasis on teaching things that are easily assessed (can you do this calculation) and no real exploration of meaning. Nowadays, we are overloaded with observational data, but I’m nervous of using that. There is a lot more to consider. Why did we decide to measure that concept? Why did we choose to measure it that way? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various ways of measuring? What are the limitations of using observational data? Consequently, I tried to work with experimental data; even if it was simple before/after studies because the use of experimental design just makes everything so much simpler. And of course this is where you hit a silo problem. How do you do experiments in a math class. Experiments are for other subjects. So I hit on the idea of using catapaults. They are using in Six-Sigma / Deming style trainings for captains of industry. So why can’t school kids benefits. Consequently I did a a number of masterclasses for the Royal Insitution , both in Plymouth at at the RI itself in London. I even got let loose one day in the main lecture theatre (the one where Faraday demonstrated electricity) with a big trebuchet firing rugby balls at people (and the very nice wall paper).

Share on: