Day 124: Gallery Walk, Board Meeting, & Mistakes Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Gallery Walk

Students did a gallery walk of some problems dealing with central net force and universal gravitation. There was a lot of good discussion as students worked on their problem, but I’m not sure how much students looked at the other problems.

Physics: Board Meeting

We had a board meeting for the snakey spring lab looking for a relationship between wavelength and frequency.

phys wb

This group used floor tiles as their distance measurement

Chemistry Essentials: Mistakes Whiteboarding

Students worked some problems translating between molar mass and moles of a substance, then did some mistakes whiteboarding to go over the problems.

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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.

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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.

Day 122: Central Net Force, Snakey Springs, & Gallery Walk

AP Physics 1: Central Net Force

Tomorrow is an off-campus learning day for seniors and freshmen, so I assigned my students to collect and graph data from a Pivot Interactives to determine what affects the force required to keep an object moving in a circle. To prime them, we spent some time today whiteboarding to get at the idea that an object moving in a circle must be experiencing unbalanced forces. Both sections came to a consensus on the free-body diagram pretty quickly and had exactly the conversations I wanted them to on the way.

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Physics: Snakey Springs

Students played with snakey springs to start building some ideas about waves. We had them tie a ribbon onto the spring to make it easier to track the particle motion of a small piece of the wave.

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Chemistry Essentials: Gallery Walk

We did a gallery walk of Friday’s problems before moving on to the balancing quiz. A lot of students opted to use the Mathlink cubes during the quiz, which I decided I’m okay with.

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Day 122: Universal Gravitation, Pendulums, & Formula Mass

Today was our first day back from spring break! We have kind of an odd start to the week since tomorrow freshmen and seniors have an off-campus learning day to accommodate state testing for sophomores and juniors.

AP Physics: Universal Gravitation

Students worked on an activity Lucas Walker presented at AAPT last summer using exoplanet data to find a relationship between centripetal acceleration and orbital radius. I was nervous about having students calculate the orbital velocity and acceleration in a spreadsheet since most of my students don’t have much experience with spreadsheets, but my students were very willing to dive in using the resources I provided and were very successful with the calculations.

Physics: Pendulums

Students collected data to model the impact of weight, drop angle, and mass on the period of a pendulum. I’m continuing to see students much more confident in their physics abilities than even the end of last trimester, and working more independently as a result.


Using the environment to make measuring release angle easier

Chemistry Essentials: Formula Mass

Students started making sense of formula mass by predicting the mass of various combinations of nuts, bolts, and washers. I wanted to give them something pretty concrete they could test directly in the lab before diving into true stoichiometry. When we shifted to chemical formulas at the end of the hour, a few students got tripped up if they skipped the particle diagram, but the math was pretty obvious to everyone once they got that step.

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Day 120: Practicals & Demos

AP Physics: Central Force Practical

I got out the record player and, as a class, we found where a mass starts to slip when the player is at 33 1/3 rpm. Students then calculated what radius they should place the same mass at when the record player is at 45 rpm. Since the velocity depends on the radius, the math got a little hairy, but students were pretty successful working through it and making sense of how all the variables were connected.


Physics: Projectile Practical

Students rolled a marble down a short ramp to turn it into a horizontal and predicted where it should hit the floor. Both my classes were able to complete it with less support than I expected. After each group managed to hit the target (an old carbon-copy referral form), I asked them to predict where, relative to their first marble, a lighter one should land.

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Chemistry Essentials: Demos

Students balanced a few different chemical reactions, then I demonstrated those reactions. Most of the students seem to be getting pretty confident with both skills and enjoyed the demonstrations. The thing I struggled with is the demos felt very separate from the balancing since they did confirm or otherwise add to the work students had done. I’m wondering if there is something I could have done differently to connect those two pieces better.

Day 119: Whiteboarding

AP Physics: Central Force Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded some problems dealing with a central net force. My students who have taken Astronomy are pretty excited with the connections they are seeing to orbits. I also pulled up a simulation of Newton’s Cannon to talk about a problem that asks why the ISS doesn’t crash into the earth.

Physics: Projectile Motion Mistakes

We did the mistakes game, focusing on the diagrams and initial set-up for problems rather than all of the math. There are a lot of long silences, so I might try giving students some structure for additional pre-discussion with their lab groups next time. Maybe students could do a gallery walk and jot down some potential questions for each whiteboard. There are a lot of groups opting to use “vertical” energy to solve for key values, which is pretty cool.


Chemistry Essentials: Balancing Mistakes Game

We did the mistakes game with yesterday’s problems on balancing chemical equations. I’ve got the opposite problem of my physics class, where lots of students have things to say, which leads to too many people talking at once. Most of my contributions end up being to re-focus the discussion or redirect students, rather content-related questions to move things along. I’m okay with this problem, even if I’m not sure how to solve it yet.


Day 118: Board Meeting, Projectile Problems, & Balancing

AP Physics: Board Meeting

We had our board meeting for yesterday’s lab on centripetal force. I approached it as three mini board meetings since students had done experiments for how three different variables affect the force. The units on slope ended up being a very powerful way for students to see the connections between their three graphs. It was especially exciting when we got to the force vs. mass graph and students saw the connections to Newton’s 2nd Law. One class noticed the slope on the force vs. 1/radius graph has units of Joules, but I’m not sure of the significance of that yet.

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Physics: Projectiles

Students whiteboarded yesterday’s problems for a gallery walk. They are consistently viewing free-fall as just a special case of models we’ve already covered, which made the problems pretty easy.  Afterward, students started working problems for horizontal projectiles.

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Chemistry Essentials: Balancing Reactions

After some discussion about the labs from the past few days, students worked on some problems balancing chemical equations. The students who started by sketching a particle diagram were generally very successful at seeing how to balance. A few students got tripped up determining when individual letters in a formula represent individual atoms, especially when the formula included a polyatomic ion, but were getting the hang of it after a couple problems.

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Day 117: Central Net Force, Free Fall, & Balancing Equations

AP Physics: Central Net Force

Students worked on an activity in Pivot Interactives to find how speed, mass, and radius affect the centripetal force. One of the great things about this time of year is my students not only have a lot of skills, they are very confident in those skills, so I got to listen to good conversations about experimental design, uncertainty, and linearization without stepping in to do any coaching.

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Physics: Free Fall

Students worked on some free-fall problems. There was a pretty even split between groups who relied on velocity vs. time graphs and groups who relied on energy. For the first time, I had a couple of groups draw separate v-t graphs for when the object was rising and when it was falling, which helped them organize their thinking.

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Chemistry Essentials: Balancing Equations

Students used the PhET Balancing Chemical Equations sim to start exploring what it means for a chemical equation to be balanced. This not only seemed to help students make sense of balancing, but to do some retroactive meaning-making on the work we’ve been doing on representing reactions.

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Day 114: Rotation Problems, v-t Graphs, & Representing Reactions

Today’s walkout happened to fall during homeroom, so it didn’t have much impact on my classes. A group of senior students organized a short march around the school, and I was very proud watching students march past the windows of my classroom.

All three of my classes were doing problems on a worksheet, so I failed to get good pictures of their work.

AP Physics: Rotation Problems

Students worked through some problems on angular motion with an emphasis on angle vs. time and angular velocity vs. time graphs. The problems went very smoothly; I can most likely count on not needing the whole period to whiteboard the problems tomorrow.

Physics: v-t Graphs

Students worked on some conceptual problems sketching and interpreting velocity vs. time graphs for projectiles. Students are feeling very confident about projectile motion, which is good to see. There are also a lot of great conversations where groups are self-correcting their answers, which is exactly what I’m after.

Chemistry Essentials: Representing Reactions

I introduced students to the notation for chemical reactions and had them practice translating between equations, statements, and particle diagrams. Some students are struggling to keep track of all the details, which is what I expect when they first see the equations.

Day 112: Rotation, Free-Fall, & Skew Dice

Today was the first day of a new trimester.

AP Physics: Rotation

Students used Pivot Interactives to make angular position vs. time graphs for several points on a disk with a constant angular velocity and a point on an accelerating disk. Back in September, my students who took calculus last year were able to make a lot of connections when we did graphs for linear motion. One of the great things about returning to circular motion now is my students currently taking calculus now have enough background knowledge that they were able to make some very similar connections today.


Physics: Free-Fall

To kick off projectile motion, students worked through a worksheet I got from Michael Lerner where they were asked to describe the motion of a falling orange using a variety of tools from earlier in the year. This seemed to help some student synthesize and connect a lot of ideas from earlier in the year.

Chemistry Essentials: Skew Dice

A lot of my students haven’t had chemistry since first trimester, so I wanted to reestablish some class norms. I used Frank Noschese’s subversive grouping to get students into group, then had them whiteboard a CER to answer whether skew dice are fair. Time got a little tight, so a lot of groups collected less data than I normally would push for, but in the follow-up discussion, that gave us the opportunity to talk about the value of getting as much data as possible.