Physics: Intro to Circuits
I gave each group a bag with a mix of various items and asked them to use those items to try and light up an LED. In the past, I’ve told students their task is to light up the bulb, but they should keep track of what doesn’t work. This year, I was more conscious of stating the goal was simply to document what does and does not work so we could look for patterns, and I was much happier with how the exploration went. This was also the first time I used LEDs for this lab, instead of miniature incandescent light bulbs, and I liked the opportunity to reinforce that current has a direction. As an added bonus, the LEDs I have required two AA batteries, which gave the students more options to try. We wrapped up by watching a short excerpt from from the Private Universe series of MIT and Harvard grads trying a similar task.
Chemistry: Limiting Reactants
Students worked through PhET’s Reactants, Products, and Leftovers simulation to introduce the idea of limiting reactants. I found a lot of students were looking for confirmation that their answers were right, even when the simulation showed the answer. When I talk to many of them, it sounds like they’ve gotten into the habit of assuming they are wrong in school. I need to continue to work on building a culture where my students feel like their ideas have value and to work on strategies to help students analyze their answers, right or wrong.