Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why Can't We Walk in Straight Lines?

Last week on my way to school I heard an interesting story on NPR. The story, A Mystery: Why Can't We Walk Straight? examines an excerpt of the book Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asymmetry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures. In the story we learn that without visual, audio, or touch input humans cannot walk in straight lines for very long. The story examines a couple of possible explanations for why we can't walk straight, but in the end all of those explanations are wrong and it remains a mystery. Below there is a video from the story on the NPR site.


Applications for Education
Once a week one of my colleagues and I share a thirty minute Common Block class (homeroom is what most schools call it). In that time we talk about all kinds of things. Lately, we've been looking at some TED Talks and other interesting stories that don't necessarily fit in any curricula, but are interesting for us and the students. It gives us time as teachers and students to explore topics that are none of us are the perceived experts on.

When I heard this story on NPR I immediately knew what we would talk about this week. I think it will be interesting to have students try out a couple of the walking tests and develop their own ideas about why we can't walk in straight lines. It should be a fun exercise in hands-on testing of hypothese.