This week was a little odd since we didn’t have any classes on Tuesday to accommodate state testing. The juniors took the ACT, but the seniors had an asynchronous day. A lot of the seniors really appreciated having a day to follow their own schedule and relax a bit.
Physics: Bouncy Balls
We started an evidence-based reasoning activity to determine what interaction dissipates a bouncy ball’s energy (you can find more details in my article from The Science Teacher). This week we focused on preparing for doing the video analysis by sketching energy bar charts, force diagrams, and motion graphs for if air resistance is responsible for most of the dissipated energy and for if the impact with the table is responsible for most of the dissipated energy. We then used those diagrams to get to some testable predictions about things we can measure with video analysis that will distinguish between those two explanations. Students found this process challenging, but I was really pleased by how they connected other ideas from this course to energy.
AP Physics: Torque
To introduce torque, students set up some meter sticks as levers and looked for a relationship between the force exerted by a hanging mass on the meter stick and the force required to balance the meter stick. After we discussed that lab and took some notes on torque, I showed students a second class lever and asked them to determine if that type of lever showed the same relationship as the first class lever we started with. While I don’t discuss the classes of levers with students, I like that this activity helps emphasize it is the direction of the torque, rather than the direction of the force that is important. This activity was tougher for my students than I expected, I think because I rushed the post-lab discussion after the first class lever, so they weren’t as clear as they needed to be about the relationship we’d found the first day.