AP Physics: Friction on Ramps
Students whiteboarded a few of the questions from yesterday’s activity examining motion graphs for a cart on a ramp. Usually, most of my students rotate their vector addition diagrams so that the legs of any right triangles are parallel to the edges of their paper. Today, I didn’t see any rotated diagrams; I don’t think its a coincidence that today was also the first time I saw students consistently make very strong connections to the physical situation they describe. Now I’ve got a chicken and egg question; did students leave the orientation of their diagrams because they saw the physical meaning, or did they see the physical meaning because they left the orientation?
I also had students write a CER on whether friction is negligible in the data I gave them. I ended up really liking how small the accelerations are; the acceleration when the cart is moving upward is only about 0.05 m/s/s larger than the acceleration when the cart is moving downward, but it works out to a 25% difference, so students had some great conversation about uncertainty and how big a difference is big enough to matter.
Physical Science: Energy Sources
Students signed up for a topic and started researching different energy sources for a short presentation. Minnesota has a standard about comparing and contrasting different energy sources, so I have them research the pros and cons of their energy source. I need to think about what I want to have students do when the are watching presentations at the end of the project.
Next year, I might introduce this project at the start of the electricity unit. I like connecting the energy sources to what students know about electromagnetism, but I think I can maintain that connection if I make the project due after the unit has ended. I always have at least some students without internet access at home, so I try to provide some in-class worktime for the project. Since I do several simulation labs during the electricity unit, I could build in some worktime by encouraging students who finish the lab early to work on their research.