Here is the second of the two commercials created specially for our ISTE Radio/Video show. The first one (a take-off on the UPS/Whiteboard commercials can be seen here). Enjoy. As always, the director’s commentary is provided below.
The backstory: I have, for many years now, wanted to create a short video along the lines of the Mastercard “Priceless” commercials. I have had many different ideas, but never really got a chance to do so. So when I came up with the idea of the Radio/Video show for ISTE, I decided this was the time to go do it.
The activity shown here (with tennis balls, flip cams, markers and transparencies) is one that I have actually done multiple times, in venues around the world. This is a simple activity that exposes a fundamental misconception people have about how objects fall. The question I ask is where the tennis ball would fall if dropped by someone in three different conditions: standing still, walking or running. Most people say that the ball would fall at the feet in the first case (right answer), and behind the person in the other two cases (wrong answer). It turns out that the ball always falls at the feet of the person – assuming, of course, that the person keeps moving at the same speed after letting go of the ball. Why the ball does so has to do with Newton’s First Law, something many people can recite back to you, even while getting this question wrong.
After I get all the responses (and it is always amazing to me just how many people get it wrong), I ask people to go and create a video of the actual experiment. I typically give them 45 minutes to an hour to do the entire thing. There is something to be said for being able to see what “really” happens, to go frame-by-frame through it. It better than any physics lesson, this activity exposes people to just how wrong their intuitions were.
There are many layers to this assignment. In some cases I have had people tape a transparency sheet to their computer screens and then track the parabolic path of the ball. You can go ahead and measure the height of the person’s hand knowing the frame-rate of the video, actually calculate the value of g, acceleration due to gravity.
Anyway, that assignment became the core idea behind the video. The entire commercial was shot, narrated and edited one Sunday afternoon. I got a group of my daughter’s friends together and we shot the still frames of them dropping the ball and shooting the video. The script was narrated by my son. Despite multiple takes he could not correctly pronounce the word “pedagogy” so tweaked the script to drop that particular word (which of course meant that Technology and Content were out as well!). The tag line “There is some knowledge you are born with, for everything else there’s TPACK” emerged out a conversation with Matt Koehler.