Day 8: Dueling Buggies & Tides

AP Physics: Dueling Buggies

We finished up the dueling buggies lab practical today. We also talked a little about what it means for a given approach to be “better”.


Earth Science: Tides

I gave students a one-month tide chart for Olympic National Park and had them look for patterns. I really like that their tide charts include the moon phases, so my students were making some connections between the biggest changes in the tides and the phase of the moon. We also talked about how to make sure the patterns were valid, which lead to looking at the tide charts for some additional months.

Day 7: Angular Velocity & Currents

AP Physics: Angular Velocity

I’ve decided to try embedding circular motion with kinematics, rather than introducing it as a separate unit, so today I introduced constant angular velocity. Students used a Direct Measurement Video of a rotating disk to plot both angle vs. time and distance vs. time for dots at different radii. I also introduced them to doing calculations in a spreadsheet since some of the number crunching they needed to do could be repetitive. Spreadsheets, high speed video, and some new physics was a lot to take in at once, so I gave more structure than usual, and my students rolled with it well.


Earth Science: Currents

Students prepped whiteboards with their conclusions to yesterday’s lab using the claim-evidence-reasoning framework. Students seemed excited to share their work with the class. Afterward, we made some connections to ocean currents.


Day 6: Dueling Buggies & Currents

AP Physics: Dueling Buggies

We finished discussing the whiteboards students prepped yesterday, then students started working on the dueling buggies practical, where they must predict the position where a pair of buggies will collide given their starting position. My favorite moment was when a student was explaining his approach to his group, and I realized he’d come up with relative velocity. One student asked if he could cheat and just graph the lines and find the intersection, so we talked about the fact that using tools from class on a problem in class is never cheating 🙂 A lot of groups asked me if they were taking the “easiest” approach, so I want to plan some time to talk about what that means when we test their answers on Thursday.

Earth Science: Currents

Students designed experiments to look at how water temperature or salinity drive currents. Students embraced designing their own experiments and it was a lot of fun listening to them discuss how density and other concepts from middle school connect to the lab. Before the lab, I asked them about what makes a good experiment. My students listed things like a procedure, that they’re often asked to turn in, and pieces like a hypothesis that are steps of the “classic” scientific method. I want to keep revisiting this during the trimester to move them towards deeper characteristics of a good experiment.



Day 3: Uncertainty & Ocean Currents

AP Physics: Uncertainty

I did a short lecture on uncertainty (I know, ugh, but I didn’t have any bright ideas for a better approach), then students figured out the uncertainty on their buggy lab measurements and prepped whiteboards. Tomorrow, as we dig deeper into the physical meaning of the graphs, we’ll translate the equations for the lines into physics-speak.


Earth Science: Ocean Currents

Students made some observations of a video of convection currents in a tank of water, then worked on combining those observations with a map of ocean temperatures and what they know about the Coriolis Effect to predict what the major ocean gyres should look like.


Day 2: Buggies & Coriolis Lab

Day 2 and I already forgot to take photos!

AP Physics: Buggies

We finished collecting data and graphing in the buggy lab. Every group produced two graphs: one with a full-speed buggy moving forward from 0; one with some other set-up. When I gave some groups half-speed buggies, I was pleased to see their first instinct was to make some observations before collecting any data. Here’s some of the things they noticed besides the speed:

  • “This one doesn’t light up.”
  • “This one is a lot quieter than the first one.”
  • “The wheels turn a lot slower on this one.”

Earth Science: Coriolis Lab

Students finished making observations on the Coriolis Effect lab, then wrote some rules to describe an object on a spinning surface. We also talked a little about the underlying skills, namely making observations and looking for patters to make a rule.

Day 1: Buggies & Coriolis

AP Physics: Buggies

Students started collecting data on the buggy lab today. Some groups ended up collecting several trials of the buggy traveling for the same amount of time, so their graph would only have one point. I’ll need to clarify that tomorrow.


Science 9: Coriolis Effect

Students got into the lab long enough to start predicting the path of a marble on a spinning table. Tomorrow, we’ll actually use the tables to see what happens.