what is a wormhole?

Wormholes are solutions to the Einstein field equations for gravity that act as "tunnels," connecting points in space-time in such a way that the trip between the points through the wormhole could take much less time than the trip through normal space.

The first wormhole-like solutions were found by studying the mathematical solution for black holes. There it was found that the solution lent itself to an extension whose geometric interpretation was that of two copies of the black hole geometry connected by a "throat" (known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge). The throat is a dynamical object attached to the two holes that pinches off extremely quickly into a narrow link between them.

This analysis forces one to consider situations...where there is a net flux of lines of force through what topologists would call a handle of the multiply-connected space and what physicists might perhaps be excused for more vividly terming a ‘wormhole’.

John Wheeler in Annals of Physics

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Performance Assessment

Performance assessments require students to demonstrate mastery of a skill or procedure by performing it. Performance assessment has long been a part of the curriculum in certain courses. Directly evaluating a student's sewing, welding, dancing, typing, piano playing, or woodworking is not a new concept. Direct assessments have the advantage of greater validity as the objective being assessed is observed directly. Indirect measures, such as a paper-and-pencil test on cooking a souffle, may not accurately predict how well a person would perform baking a real souffle.

Performance assessments are more useful in assessing complex skills and high-level understanding. Though not new, the trend toward including live performances and products in educational assessment schemes has grown in recent years. The growing interest in performance or authentic assessments is largely a reaction to the limitations and disparities of paper-pencil tests.

The specific events or activities to be assessed are content specific and emerge from the course objectives. The tasks may be very brief or long and complex. The performance tasks may be completed individually or in groups.

Problem-solving tasks related to real-world problems are often used in performance assessments. They may be embedded in a simulated or case study scenario.

Some schools have adapted a "rite of passage" experience, often required for graduation (Hart, 1994). These might consist of mastery exhibits, oral presentations, a resume, essays, products, artwork, and role plays.

Any performance task can also be evaluated by peers. It is essential to provide a checklist with the evaluative criteria listed with some form of rating scale for each criterion.

Hart, D. (1994).Authentic Assessment: A Handbook for Educators. Menlo Park, CA; Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.

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