Fight like a Physicist: Teaching Basic Physics Through the Medium of Karate
The practice of martial arts, particularly karate, is passed down from teacher to student. The largely relationship-focused, kinaesthetic nature of teaching karate is meaningfully different from the standard transmission method of information-sharing that occurs in the classroom. The present thesis investigated the pedagogical efficacy of practising karate in learning basic physics. It was hypothesized that senior karate students would show a more thorough understanding of classical mechanics principles than non-karate students. I also investigated the extent to which karate can help a scientifically marginalized demographic (teenage girls) acquire knowledge of physics outside of the traditional classroom environment. Prior studies indicated that most girls tend to disengage with physics by the age of sixteen. Central to the creative component of the thesis, therefore, was the development of karate-based teaching materials for both secondary school physics students and the general public, incorporating physics lessons within martial arts instruction. As predicted, senior karate practitioners possess an intuitive understanding of classical mechanics concepts, despite having undertaken no formal study in physics.While this area of research is ongoing, preliminary results are promising in two main ways. The novel presentation method appeals to students otherwise not engaged in a formal classroom session. The kinaesthetic nature of teaching karate provides students with a relevance and context to their physics learning.
Advisor: Bering, Jesse
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: physics education; karate; kinaesthetic learning; teaching physics in context
Research Type: Thesis