Some of this is due to process - chairs in rows, fixed class period length, isolation between classes. Those have to be fixed too! But if you design a good agenda, then let the structure follow from that, the structure will take care of itself that way.
Some big disclaimers
Lots of the notes below don't take into account (yet) ability level and prerequisites (e.g. you can't study the mathematics of flight if you haven't learned to multiply yet). (Learning Curve)
- There are also often issues of how to maintain interest in a context when it takes a long time to learn the abstractions behind it (e.g. if it takes 2 days to build a catapult, but 3 months to learn the math that will result in a better design, what then?).
hmm, I think there's a bad assumption in there - I bet you could teach some amount of the math, then supplement it with automated tools ("Catapult Builder") that would make that stuff really simple.
- Since everything is intertwingled, any single topic can lead to anything else. I err below on the side of getting too tangential, for the sake of inspiration.
Game Theory: who are the various players/agents? What are their multiple goals (and meta-goals)? Do those goals conflict? Do they have to conflict? What are the rules in the game? How real are those rules - are they official rules, or just traditional forms of behavior? What happens if you break those rules in certain ways? Is there a way to change the rules? What pieces of information do some parties have which others lack? What are the implications? Why might players chose to share or hoard certain types of information?
- open/dynamic systems: what are some causal links? Invent some more! Which ones seem the strongest? How can we test those theories? If we significantly change the state, does that change which causal links become most significant?
Some specific ideas:
Learning from Sept11 terrorist attacks
history of IsLam, varying factions of Islam
history of Judaism/Christianity in the Middle East, varying factions
Fundamental Ism/extremism in all religions and non-religious thoughts
US Foreign Policy in the Middle East, policies involving terrorism, policies involving Sovereign Ty of foreign governments. BlowBack. Implications for current internal issues in Middle East countries.
Math/PhysIcs of athletics
- punting, placekicking, golf club swing, ball throw: what are the goals (distance, time to target, accuracy, etc.). What are degrees of freedom of action? How might outcomes vary based on parameters of action (e.g. if you try to kick higher, how does that affect strength of the kick).
Build machines, study theory behind performance affectors
- start with learning about how an interesting object/machine works
lean-to, tent, Geodesic Dome
- paper airplanes, balsa planes (rubber band powered)
Philip Greenspun recommends a shop course centered on building a BiCycle. At least 50 percent of what is taught in High School Math And Science can be motivated by the Engineer Ing challenge of making a bike that functions properly and weighs less than 100 kg. In particular one can dream that this Project Based Learning approach would rescue computer instruction from its current abyss. Instead of teaching the kids how to use Microsoft Office and write lame little graphics programs in VB or Java, we'd show them how computers can become analytical tools. For the hands-on oriented kids we can let them machine their own parts and maybe do some welding, thus combining math and shop in one period!
- go-karts (?)
Build analog (maybe low-digital) Electron Ics (that do something cool/fun)
Micro Controller projects
use a Digital Camera - no film expenses! Capture little vignettes, or learn more formal composition techniques. Write stories around pictures.
hack a ChumBy?
RoBot and related program-controlled toys: build or Hack
build Musical Instrument-s
drawing on the computer
Do Outdoorsy Stuff?
Some sources of inspiration
- somebody wrote a series of stories, each about a specific constant (e.g. the speed of light) from a physics equation. In the story, that constant was manipulated, showing how that would affect reality.