Day 76: Unbalanced Forces & Motors

AP Physics: Unbalanced Forces

I borrowed an activity from my AP Summer Institute where students get a position vs. time graph and a velocity vs. time graph for a cart on a ramp. At the institute, we were tasked with finding the angle of the ramp and force of friction, but I decided to take a more conceptual approach and tasked students with writing an argument on whether friction is negligible. This was a little ambitious for their first experience with 2D unbalanced forces; I think it would have gone smoother if we’d spent some time practicing free-body diagrams and vector-addition diagrams for unbalanced 2D forces first.


Physical Science: Motors

Students built electric motors, then did some simple experiments to drive home the connection between electric currents and magnetic fields. They seemed to get the connection between today’s lab, the electromagnet lab from Friday, and basic electricity generation.

I also took some time during class to talk with my students about what I want from them during a post-lab discussion and what I’m trying to accomplish during those discussions. I saw a lot more students participating in today’s discussion, both by raising their hands and by adding to their notebook entries. I’m planning to keep reminding them of what the post-lab time should look like, as well as share a little more about why I do things differently than the other 9th grade teachers. I need to remind myself that even if I’ve been in this routine for a full trimester, this is still new to most of my students.


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