Day 161: Project Work & Whiteboarding

There was some extra chaos today and I dropped the ball on getting photos.

AP Physics: Project Work

Students worked on wrapping up their final projects. A lot of them are getting excited about presenting tomorrow. There are several students who had very ambitious proposals that I encouraged to scale back their project who have ended sticking with their original plan because they are enjoying the project, which is awesome. One student worked out the force on his legs at several key points during a hurdle race, along with trying to find the optimal launch speed for jumping over a hurdle.

Physics: Review Whiteboarding

Students did some more whiteboarding to review for tomorrow’s final. When sketching diagrams for a spring, a lot of groups had trouble with which direction the spring force was acting.

Chemistry Essentials: Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded yesterday’s problems. The two hours before this class, there had been some excitement related to senior pranks, so the students were much more keyed up than usual and it was tough for them to stay focused. I also found students were having trouble keeping track of  a lot of the details on the bar charts, which isn’t surprising given how quickly we’ve been moving through this content.

Day 160: Graphite Wire, Pendulum Review, & Energy Bar Charts

Today was the start of seniors’ last week of school.

AP Physics: Graphite Wire

Students continued to work on their final projects. One student used a graphite pencil to sketch “wires” on a sheet of paper and worked on collecting data on the potential difference at the LED. I wasn’t sure if a pencil would leave a thick enough layer of graphite, so got pretty excited when she got this to work.


Its hard to see, but the LED is glowing!

Physics: Pendulum Review

With the final exam starting on Thursday, we took some time today to start reviewing. I started with some pendulum questions that I expected to be pretty quick and easy, but it took a lot longer than I hoped. I didn’t do as nice a job of spiraling as I would have liked this spring, so students were very rusty on some of the concepts they needed.


pendulum wb.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Energy Bar Charts

Students worked on energy bar charts for chemical reactions. The hardest part for a lot of students was parsing what exactly was happening at each snapshot for the energy bar carts; in general, I haven’t pushed the idea that some representations are like a photo that shows a specific instant while others are like a movie that shows change over an extended period, which would have helped today.

Day 159: AP Test Day, Retakes, & Equilibrium

AP Physics: AP Test Day

About two thirds of my students took the AP Physics 1 exam today, so my classes were smaller than usual. I gave them time on to work on their final projects and I cleaned up some lab equipment. I had a broken tumble buggy in my room that a student asked if he could take apart, and ended up getting it running again.

Physics: Retakes

Today was also the unofficial senior skip day, so my physics classes were pretty small, too. I gave students the opportunity to retake assessments in class today, though no one took me up on it. In one of my classes, I’d tried lighting a fire with a convex lens yesterday, but it was too cloudy, so we took advantage of today’s sunnier weather to get some more success.

Chemistry Essentials: Equilibrium

My chemistry class is only about one third seniors, so I actually got to do some teaching today! We did a lab with a reaction between iron nitrate and potassium thiocyanate to see what happened with various changes to shift the reaction equilibrium.


Day 158: Multiple Choice, Concave Lenses, & Energy in Reactions

AP Physics: Multiple Choice

I used Plickers to go through some practice multiple choice with student who will be taking the AP Physics 1 exam tomorrow. The conversations were less animated and less focused than earlier in the year, but that’s not a surprise right now. A lot of courses have wound down at this point, and its been tough for students to split their focus between the final project and reviewing for the exam.

I also found myself wishing I’d shifted the due dates for the final project proposal and qualitative description to earlier to give students a little more in-class time to work on their data collection.


Physics: Concave Lenses

Since yesterday’s ray diagrams were mostly convex lenses, we did a little qualitative work with concave lenses today. After talking about what students saw on a screen in Monday’s lab when they used a concave lens, I asked students to sketch a ray diagram that would explain their observations and was pretty pleased with the results.


Chemistry Essentials: Energy in Reactions

Students worked on a worksheet to work with the idea of energy in chemical reactions, especially for exothermic and endothermic reactions and factors that affect reaction rate. I like that focusing on energy gives a why for a lot of observations students have made so far this year; I want to spend some time this summer making energy a much stronger theme in the curriculum for this course.

Day 157: Final Projects, Lens Ray Diagrams, & Reaction Rates

AP Physics: Final Projects

We went to a computer lab today for students to continue working on their final projects. The majority of students are making good progress; they had a milestone due today, and I’m looking forward to reading their progress. One student is analyzing a scene from one one of the Fast and the Furious movies to determine whether the physics is plausible. He spent some time today getting measurements from Google Maps to help with his analysis.

I gave feedback on project proposals electronically, and ran into an issue where one student hadn’t read the feedback to see their project needed some significant changes. I wish I’d taken time to have individual conferences with students about their proposals to make sure students were aware of my feedback.

Physics: Lens Ray Diagrams

Students worked on some qualitative ray diagrams for lenses today. Students are continuing to do very well with ray diagrams, though I wish we’d spent a little more time on planar refraction. A lot of students had trouble with the idea that a lens bends the light the same amount, regardless of characteristics like the location of the screen.

Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Rates

We spent some time discussing yesterday’s lab, using particle diagrams to think about why certain factors sped up reactions. A few ideas from earlier in the year, like the fact that particles move faster when they are at a higher temp, came up, which was great. Afterward, students did a reading and answered some questions to try and focus on the role of energy in affecting reaction rates.

Day 156: Final Project, Lenses, & Reaction Rates

AP Physics: Final Project

Students continued to work on their final projects. In another class, two students built a pretty serious launcher for balsa wood planes and have decided to make their physics final project about explaining some of the things they’ve noticed with their launcher. The majority of students are making good use of their class time; I think it helps that I gave clearer expectations for what students should turn in partway at key points partway through the project.

I also had a free response problem for students to work on that we talked through at the end of class. I didn’t have a whole lot of students who opted to work through the problem themselves, I think partly because I used a secure practice test that students can’t take home.

Physics: Lenses

Students did a qualitative lab experimenting with the images produced by lenses. I had electric candles to use as light sources, but students got really excited when I suggested they could try a picture on their phone. I loved the surprise when students covered up part of the lens and saw no change in the image.


Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Rates

Students worked on a lab to test how certain changes affect the rate of a reaction. The lab I used was pretty structured, but students had a lot of great ideas about how to effect the rate of a reaction during the pre-lab discussion. I think this lab would work very well as a modeling-style lab next time around.

reaction rate.jpg