Day 161: Final Project Presentations, Lab Final, & Nuke Whiteboarding

This will probably be my last post of the year. Today was the last day for seniors, so my Physics and AP Physics 1 classes wrapped up today. My Chemistry Essentials class is mostly juniors, which means they will continue through the end of next week, but I’ll miss out since I’m going to the AP Physics reading.

This year, I’ve been doing a lot of work to try and build a strong whole-class culture and, compared to previous years, I had a lot more students talk about how they’ll missing being in their specific hour of physics, suggesting there was a strong sense of community. That was a really exciting element of my last day for the year.

AP Physics 1: Final Project Presentations

We finished up final project presentations. There was one group that designed and built a rig to reliably launch a hockey puck to measure the stopping distance along various surfaces in order to determine toe coefficient of friction. For the final, students were given a spring with a known spring constant and tasked with finding the mass of a mystery object.

phys lab final

Physics: Lab Final

Students did a lab practical for the second half of their final exam. There was lots of great conversation as students worked through the problem and it was a lot of fun for me to see students using so many of the skills we’ve been working on this year.

Chemistry Essentials: Nuke Whiteboarding

We did a quick refresher on nuclear decay using the whiteboards before taking the quiz on nuclear chemistry.

chem wb.jpg

Day 160: Final Project Presentations, Final Exam Part 1, & Mistakes Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Final Project Presentations

We started presenting final projects. I have each group prepare a presentation, but am pretty lenient on length. I have a couple of students on the trap shooting team that presented today on their examination of the recoil on a shotgun. I hadn’t realized the shotgun barrel is above the center of mass, so there is an upward recoil in addition to the backward recoil.

Physics: Final Exam Part 1

Seniors are done tomorrow, but we’re on a standard schedule both today and tomorrow. To accommodate that, we split the physics final exam into two parts. Today, students took a pretty standard written final.

Chemistry Essentials: Mistakes Whiteboarding

I showed students a table to organize their work on half life calculations, then we did some mistakes whiteboarding on yesterday’s problems. The table made the problems much easier for a lot of students, which was great.

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Day 159: Final Project Work, Review Whiteboarding, & Half Life Problems

AP Physics 1: Final Project Work

Students worked on polishing their final projects. One student needed to measure some angles in a video clip on Netflix, and had the brilliantly simple idea to just hold a protractor against her screen.

Physics: Review Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded problems off the final review. A few students asked to chose their own groups since this would be our final round of whiteboarding, but I’m glad I stuck with shuffling them since there was some great conversation during the first few minutes when students were comparing answers on their problems.

Chemistry Essentials: Half Life Problems

We had a board meeting with the results of yesterday’s lab, then students worked on some half life problems. I don’t think I do a great job of linking the lab to the calculations, and I could see it in the ways students were struggling with the calculations.

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Day 158: Final Project Work, Final Review, & Half-Life Lab

AP Physics 1: Final Project Work

Students worked on finalizing data collection for their final projects. One group engineered a clever rig to measure how much a fishing rod bent when there was a load.

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It was also PJ day for seniors

Physics: Final Review

Students started working on their final review. We didn’t do anything too exciting, just a selection of problems from each topic, but there was a lot of great discussion as students sought out peers who could help with topics they were rusty on.

Chemistry Essentials: Half Life Lab

Students used paper “pennies” for the classic half-life lab. I have student submit their group’s results in a Google form I’ve been using for a few years; it currently has data from 54 groups, which will be nice for tomorrow’s discussion.

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Day 157: Senior Skip Day & Mistakes Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1 & Physics: Senior Skip Day

Today was senior skip day, so only a few of my students were in class. Most of the AP students opted to work on their final project and some of the Physics students started reviewing for the final.

Chemistry Essentials: Mistakes Whiteboarding

We did some mistakes whiteboarding with problems for nuclear decay. I had a few students ask how we know alpha particles are always helium-4, which got me wondering if there’s a better way I could introduce the types of nuclear decay we study than just giving some notes on the types of decay we’ll be using.

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Day 153: Final Projects, Ray Diagrams, & Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Final Projects

Students continued work on their final projects. One group wants to figure out the charge vs. time function for my Van de Graaff generator. All three students in the group have different predictions for what that function will look like, which lead to some debates with lots of great thinking.

Physics: Ray Diagrams

Students finished working on some ray diagrams for curved mirrors and prepped whiteboards for some mistakes whiteboarding on Monday. Yesterday, a lot of students got frustrated when the rays didn’t meet perfectly or when they had to use virtual rays, but I think a lot of that resolved today.

Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Types Whiteboarding

As a quick refresher before today’s quiz, I gave students a fairly long worksheet, then had them pick out one example of each reaction type to put on a whiteboard. One student showed me how he’s been splitting the formulas in single replacement and double replacement reactions to relate back to general forms like AB + CD → AD + BC.

reaction types splitting

Day 152: Final Projects, Board Meeting, & Activity Series Practical

AP Physics 1: Final Projects

Final project proposals are due tomorrow, so students worked on finalizing their topic. I got to have a lot of fun conversations today to help students narrow down their topic. One student had picked out a clip from The Cat in the Hat but wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with it, so we spent some time talking about the physics involved.

Physics: Curved Mirror Board Meeting

We whiteboarded the results of yesterday’s lab to get to the mirror equation.

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Chemistry Essentials: Activity Series Practical

Students got a pre-1982 penny and a post-1982 penny, each with a wedge cut to expose the insides, and used an activity series to predict which would react with hydrochloric acid.

pennies in hcl.jpg

Day 151: Final Project Work, Curved Mirrors Round 2, & Gallery Walk

AP Physics 1: Final Project Work

Students continued working on their final projects. One group that is also in AP Computer Science is planning to write a program to model the motion of a soccer ball got excited when they realized they can change gravity in their project.

Physics: Curved Mirrors Round 2

The data from yesterday’s lab was pretty rough, so we used a simulation from The Physics Classroom to collect some idealized data. Students prepped their boards, but we ran out of time for the board meeting.

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Chemistry Essentials: Gallery Walk

We did a gallery walk to go over the answers to yesterday’s problems using an activity series to predict whether a single replacement reaction is likely.

chem Sr wb.jpg

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.

concave mirror lab.jpg

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 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.

laser security system.jpg

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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