Day 91: Whiteboarding & Engineering

AP Physics: Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded some problems from Friday and yesterday’s Direct Measurement Video. There was some good discussion about a problem about a collision between a Hummer and a VW Bug, comparing the force, the change in momentum, and the acceleration of each. A lot of students did some really good wrestling with the conceptual distinctions between those ideas. There was also some good discussion about whether momentum is conserved when an object starts rotating. All the groups that said rotation takes some momentum had a calculation, while the groups who said rotation does not impact conservation of momentum used a few different approaches, which gave a nice opportunity to talk not only about uncertainty, but the value of multiple lines of evidence.

Physical Science: Engineering

I decided to expand the big engineering project we have this trimester to include both motion and forces, so today we introduced the project. We spent some time talking about what engineers do, and I was very excited that collaborate was the first thing a student mentioned. We also did some problem scoping, where I gave students a fictitious memo from our “client” and had them use the information to describe the problem, the criteria for success, and the constraints we’ll have to work within, as well as start brainstorming some of the science knowledge they will need for the project. I’ve tended to skip problem scoping, since a fake client feels cheesy to me, but it was interesting to see students really analyze the fairly short text of the memo; it was also interesting that students are thinking about the constraints as reasonable client requests instead of arbitrary obstacles I imposed (at least for now).


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