Day 150: Final Project, Curved Mirror Lab, & Activity Series Problems

AP Physics 1: Final Project

Students worked on proposals for their final projects. I’ve got one group that’s done some preliminary testing on a fishing line and found when pulled horizontally, it took less force to break than it is rated for. They’ve got some ideas about how the bending of the rod reduces the force on the line that they want to dig into.

Physics: Concave Mirror Lab

Students collected data for a relationship between the object distance and the image distance for a concave mirror. Its tricky for students to find the spot that makes a nice image, so the data is a little messy. For next year, I’m toying with doing ray diagrams first, then sketching ray diagrams to collect some theoretical data prior to the lab. I need to think some more about how that would play out.

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Chemistry Essentials: Activity Series Problems

Students worked on some problems using an activity series to determine whether a given single replacement reaction is likely. A lot of students struggled with identifying what is doing the replacing and what is getting replaced; I wonder if using a manipulative would have helped.

Day 149: Free Response, Curved Mirrors, & Activity Series

AP Physics 1: Free-Response

The 2019 free response were released last Thursday. I always have some students interested in discussing the problems, so I offered to go through my solutions with interested students today. The students who opted into the discussion said they struggled in the spots I expected them to, but felt really good about the rest of the problems. We’ll see for sure in July!

Physics: Curved Mirrors

We discussed the results of Friday’s lab, especially some rough ray diagrams I had students sketch. We also got a nice visual of the focal point using a big concave mirror, a ray box that fires several laser beams, and some chalk dust.

Chemistry Essentials: Activity Series

Students combined several different metals and nitrates to rank the reactivity of the metals. One of the reactions is fairly subtle, but students did a nice job of recognizing what was being produced in each reaction.

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Day 148: Survey, Curved Mirrors, & Pivot Reaction Types

I was out today, so my classes had a sub.

AP Physics 1: Survey

My district requires all teachers to have students complete a teacher evaluation survey. Since it’s ideal to have students complete it without the teacher in the room, I picked today.  Teachers chose which classes to give the survey to; since AP Physics 1 is the only class where I keep the same students all year, I decided to survey them. While there are certainly flaws in student evaluations, I am interested in seeing the results to get another view of the culture in my classroom.

Physics: Curved Mirrors

Students did a lab to play with curved mirrors to start building some ideas about the images formed by concave and convex mirrors.

Chemistry Essentials: Pivot Interactives Reaction Types

I am as part of Pivot Interactive’s Chemistry Fellows program.

Students used Pivot Interactives to get one more look at some of the different reaction types before their quiz. Along with a single replacement and a double replacement reaction, I had students use what they know about synthesis reactions to finally explain why burning steel wool gets heavier.

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Day 147: Brainstorming, Laser Security System, & Reaction Types Lab

AP Physics 1: Brainstorming

I introduced students to their final project, which is to pick something they are interested in and explain or describe some aspect of it using physics we’ve learned this year, then go collect some data as a way to test or expand their explanation. Today, students mostly played with potential ideas and used some of the physics we’ve learned to start exploring.

Physics: Laser Security System

I borrowed the design challenge from an EngrTEAMS optics unit and had students use plan mirrors to design a room for a museum with a laser security system. Students got into the task and we used the Mission Impossible theme as background music.

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Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Types Lab

Students did a lab where they got to see each of the five reaction types first hand. I’d like to edit the worksheet I have for the lab to have students make more explicit connections between their observations and the balanced equation.

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Day 146: Exam Debrief & Mistakes Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Exam Debrief

A lot of my students were gone today for the AP Literature exam. I took some time to introduce the final project students will be working on, then we talked a little about how they felt the AP Physics 1 exam went. Most students felt better about the free response than the multiple choice, which is pretty consistent with what I’ve heard from past years.

Physics: Mirror Mistakes

We did some mistakes whiteboarding with ray diagrams for plane mirrors and students pretty quickly got the hang of the diagrams. One student declared we need a song for mistakes whiteboarding; I’ll be sure to update if we come up with one.

mirror mistakes.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Types Mistakes

We did mistakes whiteboarding with some problems for recognizing different reaction types. Students were very successful at making sense of these problems and I hat pretty minimal intervention.

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Day 145: AP Exam Day, Ray Diagrams, & Reaction Types

AP Physics 1: AP Exam Day

My second hour met this morning before the AP Physics 1 exam. I didn’t want to force them to spend an hour doing tough physics just before the exam, so I left the day pretty open. A couple of students brought cookies to share. When the class discovered one student hadn’t heard of Go Fish, they got out some playing cards and taught him the game.

cards and cookies.jpg

Physics: Ray Diagrams

Students worked on some problems drawing ray diagrams for plane mirrors. They had some trouble picking out which rays were important, but managed to get the hang of it by the end.

Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Types Problems

Students worked on some problems identifying different reaction types. I was really pleased with how many students defaulted to explaining their thinking about what the particles were doing when they asked for help.

Day 144: Lab Practical, Board Meeting, & Lego Reaction Types

AP Physics 1: Lab Practical

Today was our last day of regular class before the AP exam. We worked on a lab practical where students figure out where to drop an unrolling toilet paper roll so that it will hit the ground as a roll that is simply dropped. I’ve got a worksheet where I added some questions to hit most of the topics from mechanics. I didn’t have any groups finish, but they did a lot of good thinking.


Physics: Plane Mirror Board Meeting

Students whiteboarded their results from Friday’s plane mirror lab. Several groups had some trouble distinguishing between units and variables in their equation because they were thrown off by the unitless slope, but we were able to work through it.

phys mirror board meeting.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Lego Reaction Types

Students did a lab manipulating cubes to go from the reactants to the products for the major types of reactions we are learning to reinforce what is going on at the particle level. I usually use Legos, but forgot to ask a colleague to bring them in, so we pulled out the Mathlink cubes.

reaction types legos.jpg

Day 143: Model Summaries, Reflection Lab, & Reading

AP Physics 1: Model Summaries

My favorite dedicated review activity is model summaries, where students whiteboard key diagrams and formulas for each model. Students have those diagrams in their toolkits, so today was mostly about reminding students to use them and reassuring them they know how to use these tools.


Physics: Reflection Lab

Students collected data for a relationship between the incident angle and reflected angle in a mirror. We did the pre-lab discussion yesterday, and I did have to get ornery about reminding students to go back to their notes from that discussion to get started, but the lab went very smoothly from there. We’d bought some laser pointers a year or two ago, so I had students use those instead of pins in cardboard, and I really like that students could see the light rays directly.

reflection lab.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Types Reading

I’ve got some ideas for a card sort to introduce reaction types, but ran out of time to put something together and went back to a reading in our textbook. I had students write definitions for each reaction type using both the textbook language and their own words and I had students come up with their own larger categories for the reaction types, both of which lead to some good discussion.

Day 126: Levers & Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Levers

Students did a lab with levers to introduce torque. I usually take 3-4 days on lever labs, so tried to shorten it. In my 2nd hour, I had students graph the ratio of the forces on one axis and the ratio of the radii on the other; the results so far are looking messy, so I think I tried to accomplish too much with that approach. In my other section, I had half the class keep the positions constant and graph the two forces, while the other half of the class keep the forces constant and graphed the distances from the pivot. The results are looking really nice, so I think that was a better abbreviation.

ap lever.jpg

Physics: Whiteboarding

We whiteboarded and discussed a couple of wave problems from TIPERs. Students seemed to find the problems pretty straightforward.

Chemistry Essentials: Gallery Walk

We did a gallery walk to go over Friday’s problems that combined balancing with molar mass. Students are starting to be able to shift away from the blocks we’ve been using for balancing and rely more on their particle diagrams, which is great to see.

chem gallery.jpg

Day 123: Board Meeting, Snakey Springs, & Molar Mass

Yesterday we had ACT testing for juniors. Seniors had an off-campus learning day.

AP Physics 1: Central Net Force Board Meeting

For yesterday’s off-campus learning day, my students finished collecting data in Pivot Interactives on central net forces. I really enjoyed the discussion of the force vs. mass graphs, when the class realized the units on the slope were the units on acceleration, so we had F=ma.

ap centeal force.jpg

Physics: Snakey Springs

Students used the snakey springs to collect data on a relationship between frequency and wavelength for standing waves.

Chemistry Essentials: Molar Mass

Students used nuts, bolts, and washers to represent different elements in order to discover how to find the molar mass of a compound. Afterward, they tried extending what they’d found to actual compounds. Not only were they very successful at extending their results, their work represented different ways of thinking about polyatomic ions, which was cool.