AP Physics: Rotational Energy
Students whiteboarded yesterday’s problems and we spent some time discussing how changing the system changes the LOL diagram. I picked a problem where a block on a spring becomes an upward projectile and a second where a block is launched by a spring up a track; I really liked using this pair since it drives home that path is irrelevant in conservation of energy.
Afterward, I had students use conservation of energy to predict the velocity of a marble at the bottom of a ramp, then we measured with photogates. Their prediction was off by about 60%, which I used as motivation to introduce rotational kinetic energy to account for the “missing” energy at the bottom. When students saw the actual velocity, they were quick to attribute the difference to friction, even after seeing the percent difference, so now I’m wondering if there are other good ways to rule out friction. Maybe time the marble down the track, then compare the acceleration to the component of gravity along the track?
Physical Science: Weight vs. Mass
Students weighed hanging masses on spring scales to find a relationship between weight and mass. We moved this to the start of the unit since its the one thing we do with forces that doesn’t fit with our engineering project, but I feel like weight ended up separated from other important ideas from forces. As we dig more deeply into forces this week, I’ll make sure I circle back to the concepts of weight and mass, so I may decide this sequence was okay after all.