From the Slopes to the Science Lab: Experiential Learning in Physics Lessons

At Leysin American School, we love providing experiential learning opportunities to our students. Experiential learning is the idea that students learn better by applying their subjects to the real world through hands-on experiences, such as travel opportunities, learning from a visiting expert, or going out into nature during lessons. Recently, some of our science students learned about the physics of skiing by going out onto the mountain. It was a great way to get outside and enjoy the slopes while also learning through applying their studies to activities they take part in during their everyday life!

Our grade 10 science students are currently doing a mock Internal Assessment (IA) project, where they have to create a hypothesis, collect their data, and write up their findings in an essay-style paper. This prepares them for next year’s IB Diploma, where they will write an IA for each subject. Learning these skills early on will allow them to practice their writing, data collection, and analytical skills in a supportive environment where they can learn from their mistakes and understand the IA process.

Going up on the slopes was a lot of fun, and our students loved testing their theories and collecting data using technology such as speedometers, apps on their phones, and video analysis techniques. Changing the variables, such as ski size, wind resistance, and slope gradient, allowed them to prove or disprove their theories. What resulted was some interesting findings from their data collection and a much more grounded understanding of how different factors can affect the velocity of skiers going down the mountain.

In addition to completing their data collection and writing up their IA for this science unit, the students also gained valuable insight from older students about the IA process and how they wrote up their hypotheses and findings. This was really useful and allowed students to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of the process they will embark on in the future. In addition, the students also took part in a session with one of the librarians about referencing, an essential element of essay and paper writing that shows the reader the validity of their arguments by viewing their sources.

By engaging in hands-on experiences like exploring the physics of skiing, our students deepened their understanding of academic concepts and developed essential skills for future academic assessments. Through projects like the mock IA, they learn the importance of creating a hypothesis, collecting data, and producing analytical writing, all of which will prepare them for the IB Diploma. As we foster our philosophy of experiential exploration and discovery in classes, our students continue to thrive in an environment where they are encouraged to challenge themselves equipped with the knowledge and skills to succeed in their future academic journeys.

Written by

Leysin American School in Switzerland

Leysin American School in Switzerland

Located in the breathtaking Swiss Alps, Leysin American School has a history of nurturing talent and motivating students to succeed in education, sports, and the arts. The boarding school bring together students from around the world to create a campus community with a global perspective and a family atmosphere. LAS offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, a comprehensive US university preparatory curriculum, and, for non-native English speakers, an integrated English Language Acquisition (ELA) program.

Find a school