Welcome back to another Scimatics blog post. Lately we have been working on a project that I have really enjoyed. We’ve been working with lasers, the law of reflection, and the Pythagorean theorem to answer the driving question, “How can we test the Pythagorean theorem and the law of reflection.” These are important tools to have because they are used in the real world a lot, for example if you are building something. To test the Pythagorean theorem and the law of reflection, we did a number of things. We did a mind map, read a story about the Pythagorean theorem, used online light/laser simulators, and even played laser tag. Then to end it off, we made a laser display.

The mind map is something we do at the start of almost every new Scimatics project. I did a section for questions, thoughts, and examples. At the end of the project I went back and did my best to answer some of those questions and add more thoughts and examples.

Another thing that we did that I found important was the book. The book was a story about Pythagoras as a kid and how he discovered the Pythagorean theorem. I don’t know about everyone else but this really helped me understand the Pythagorean theorem better. This is because the book used examples of how it’s used in the real world and I find that makes things easier to understand.

One of my favourite things that we did in this project was laser tag. We didn’t do traditional laser tag but what we did was somewhat similar. We had two teams that put a target somewhere in the class and the other team had to try and bounce a laser off of a mirror to hit it and vice versa. The lasers started in one spot and we weren’t allowed to move anything until the lasers were off. The first round my team won by hitting the target on our second try. In the second round we did class against class. We set up our targets in our class and we had to shoot the laser down the hall, into the other class, and hit the target using two mirrors. To make it harder we also had to keep the lasers in our class. Our team actually won this by hitting the target first try.

Another big thing that we did was the laser optics simulator. This is where we started planning out what our big laser displays are going to look like, at least the triangle. We started getting used to working with lasers and reflections, which we quickly found out is very finicky and precise. We then did a bit of a lab with our newfound knowledge. In the lab we had to use the law of reflection and the Pythagorean theorem to make a right triangle.

To end off this project we did a laser display. We were put into teams of 4 or 5 and we built a laser display. My team did a very large triangle with an ocean theme. We did our best to prove the Pythagorean theorem and the law of reflection but there were some flaws. We did prove that with the law of reflection, the angle of incidences and the angle of reflection will be an equal distance from the normal. The problem was with the Pythagorean theorem. Our measurements weren’t adding up with our calculations. This was most likely due to an error in our measurements. We were off by 0.66cm from a perfect triangle. Once we were done building our projects we had a morning where everyone set up their projects, we turned out the lights, and we put smoke on them all. The smoke made it so that we could see the lasers and it made for a really cool effect.

At the end of every project we do, we have to do a self assessment and say how we think we did. The rubric that we were following had three parts to them. The first part was how we used our class time. I think that I am at the proficient level with this. I don’t always do the best with using my class time but for this project I was actually getting a lot done in class and I was using my time well. The second part is the knowledge part. This part is about how well you know the Pythagorean theorem, the law of reflection, and all the work leading up to it. For this I think that I may have actually done pretty good. I think I was at more of an extending level with this for a few reasons. The main reason is that, even though my measurements and sometimes my calculations were a bit off, I could always figure out where the source of error was. The third section on the rubric was about how well actually built our project and how well our team worked together. I think that the way the project turned out was at a proficient level but our teamwork was at more of an emerging/developing level. The reason I say this is because there was only like one or two people working on it while the rest of the group didn’t barely did any work. I think that if everyone did more equal work, then the project could have turned out a lot better.

In the end this was a really cool project. We did work with lasers, both in real life and online, mirrors, and we even played laser tag. To answer the driving question, I think that the easiest way to test/prove both the law or reflection and the Pythagorean theorem is to just make a right angle triangle. If you make the triangle right, you can easily prove both of them.

If you want you can check out my group here!