Monday, 30 April 2018

CFE Day 6: April 30, 2018 - Rope Making

Ropes are so often used and a technology I entirely took for granted until my thumb/hand began to cramp from my efforts to create one small length of 2-ply rope. No wonder humans made machines to make these! It is very amazing and humbling to think that a tool so easily created from such different mediums so readily and rather easily found in nature, or in our 2018 lives from the up-cycled 'garbage' of our society,  changed the way humans lived entirely. Being the foundation from which so many other technologies and advancements built upon, simple footwear, transportation of people and goods, in food gathering, animal domestication, etc. the simple rope is a wonderful skill to teach and learn that can connect people to their roots. It is also personally quite satisfying to have created something so useful. The idea that early groups could traverse mountain ranges, deserts, and entire oceans in humanity's exploration and settling around the globe, with the help of grasses, vines, and roots in the form of rope is awe-inspiring.

The curricular applications of rope-making are huge and extensive and can be directly tied to any garden. The struggle to have continuity in a school garden could be partially remedied by the idea that even from a garden that seems a dead, useless patch of (frozen) dirt, something so useful can come from it. Rope making exemplifies the old saying "one man's trash is another's treasure". From humanities and the development of cultures in different parts of the world, to math in the rope itself, the art of rope, to the science of how rope can be improved or adapted for different purposes, rope-making is a rich area in which teachers can connect their students to the earth, to history, and to each other. There is potentially no other technology so varied while so unifying between so many different environments, time periods, cultures, and lifestyles, not to mention teachable subject areas. For IEP and ELL students, the physical activity and potential to relate to this universal tool could be a very useful stepping stone in their learning devlopement.

Within my field of physics, it would be a very interesting class and lab/inquiry activity to test the structural integrity and strength of different materials and rope-making methods within the topic of energy. The idea of the potential energy within the twisted strands opposing each other would be a fantastic real world application of a rather abstract concept which could further relate into other physics concepts like work and kinematics. Furthermore, it could be used to link to so many other cross-curricular such as math (structures and shapes of rope), biology (nature of natural materials), art, and literature. For all of the more famous science experiments and discoveries in history, it would be very interesting to have the students research how many were directly or indirectly related to the technology of ropes!

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