Days 1-4: Buggy Lab

I’d expected to give this blog a break for this year, but a last-minute resignation meant I’m back in the classroom for at least part of this year. At the moment, I’m just teaching one section of AP Physics 1.

Like usual, I started with the buggy lab. Like I’ve been doing for a few years, on day 1, I asked students to make a graph that models the motion of their buggy with almost no other instruction, then had a board meeting that focused on what we would need to change in order to set ourselves up better to compare results across groups. Then, the next day, we repeated the lab with some agreements about things like units and graph axes so we could compare results. Every group collected one set of data with a full-speed buggy moving forward from zero and one set of data with a variation I assigned them. In the board meeting, students easily recognized the slope represented he speed and the intercept represented the starting position.

In the past, I’ve insisted students use time as the independent variable and collect data at even time intervals, but I skipped that this year. I ended up regretting it because the ways students measure when time is the independent variable lead so nicely into a motion map, so that could make next week trickier since only a few students have had that experience.

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