Day 103: Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Waves Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded problems from Friday. There was some great discussion about particle motion in a longitudinal wave in one class, and we ended up getting out a slinky and tieing a ribbon to one of the rings to try and see the motion first-hand.

Physics: Pendulum Representations Whiteboarding

We whiteboarded and discussed some problems sketching representations of a pendulum’s motion, including free-body diagrams, energy bar charts, and motion graphs. Students made a lot of good connections over the course of the discussion. On some of the questions, there were multiple approaches to the answer, which was great to see.

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Chemistry Essentials: Chemical Formula Whiteboarding

I gave students some problems where they had to decide whether a given chemical formula is likely, then we whiteboarded their answers for some discussion and a gallery walk. I especially liked the discussion that came out of a a couple of problems that included metals, like lead and copper, that can form multiple charges during ionic bonding.chem formula wb.jpg

Day 154: Colliding Bouncy Balls & Isostacy

AP Physics: Colliding Bouncy Balls

Students continued to work on their final projects. One student worked on colliding pairs of bouncy balls together at different speeds to see how bouncing changes against an elastic surface instead of a hard one.

Earth Science: Isostacy

We didn’t actually use the word isostacy today, but students floated blocks of different kinds of wood in a bucket of water and measured the ratio of the block above the water to below the water. I’d love to plan ahead better and get a better mix of blocks with several with the same density, but different volumes. I was able to get around that by having them stack two identical blocks to see the ratio stays the same.


Day 147: Project Work & Plate Tectonics

AP Physics: Project Work

Students continued working on their final projects for physics. I had a fun conversation with a student who plays baseball and is planning to analyze hitting a baseball. I’m extremely ignorant about sports, so wanted to make sure there would be enough meat for him to dig into and, as he talked about everything that goes into an effective swing, it quickly became clear he will need to pick some aspects of the swing to focus on.

Earth Science: Plate Tectonics

Students played with PhET’s plate tectonics simulation to reinforce what is going on at plate boundaries. I think if I fleshed out what students are doing in the simulation, I could significantly reduce (or get rid of completely) the notes I did yesterday.


Day 146: Project Intro & Convection Currents

AP Physics: Project Intro

For the rest of the trimester, my students will be working on a project I borrowed from Casey Rutherford. They will pick something they are interested in, explain it using physics from the course, then do some kind of data collection and modeling. A lot of students seem really excited about the project. I’m embedding checkpoints about once a week so I can make sure students stay on track. Today, with most of my students taking the AP Literature exam, I gave them time to start playing with ideas for a topic.


A few students played with balanced torques today

Earth Science: Convection Currents

I’ve been working on replacing the notes in Earth Science with more hands-on activities, but I caved and gave the slides on how convection currents drive plate tectonics today. I really like the way this brought together a lot of ideas from labs we’ve been doing recently, but I found myself wishing that students had some exposure to mountain-building and volcanoes, which are the next unit.

Day 145: AP Test Day & Pangea

AP Physics: AP Test Day!

As I write this, my students are sitting in the AP Physics 1 exam! I only saw one of my classes before the test, and I told them they could do whatever will help them feel good going into this afternoon’s test, with one of the options being to simply relax for a period. The class asked me to go over one of their last quizzes and to review a few concepts. After that, a few students worked independently to go over a practice test they took. Meanwhile, I taught a group of students how to play Quiddler and had a blast while getting royally trounced by all of them.


Earth Science: Pangea

Students got continents with indicators for what kinds of rocks and fossils are present. They used that information, along with the shapes, to construct Pangea, which should lead nicely to the idea of moving plates. I didn’t get to see yet how it went; the AP Chem teacher offered to trade classes with me since she has a lot of my physics students and they were begging for one more chance to ask me questions.


Day 144: Review & Seafloor Spreading

AP Physics: Review

A little over half of my students were at the AP Chemistry test today, so I left it open for students in class to do what they needed to feel ready for tomorrow’s exam. I had one group of students go back over old quizzes to focus on mistakes they’d made, while some other students asked for a free-response question on circuits.

Earth Science: Seafloor Spreading

Students looked at maps of a couple of different data on the mid-Atlantic ridge. Next time, I might try to get them pre-colored maps of the data to allow for more time on the analysis and interpretation. This did combine nicely with Friday’s look at earthquake depth to justify subduction on the coast of South America. I lead students through the connection due to lack of time, but it would be interesting to give students more room to connect this data to Friday’s earthquake data.


Day 143: Plickers & Plates

AP Physics: Plickers

Most of my students will be taking the AP Chemistry exam on Monday, so this was our last day all together before the AP Physics exam. We did one last round of Plickers, using some problems many students got wrong on the practice exam they did outside of class.

Earth Science: Tectonic Plates

My students don’t know it yet, but we started on tectonic plates today. They plotted the location of some earthquakes, color-coding them by depth, then they started looking for patterns. On Monday, we’ll talk about that it’s all means.