Day 152: Final Project, Pinhole Viewers, & Activity Series

A lot of my AP Physics and Physics students were gone today for the AP Calc exam.

AP Physics: Final Project

I handed out copies of the 2018 free response for students who will be taking the exam next week. Students also had time to work on the problems and their final projects. I have a few students interested in programming, so I gave students the option of either collecting data or writing a program to model their topic. One student is toying with the idea of taking that approach to explore escape velocity.

Physics: Pinhole Viewers

Leah Segal recently tweeted that she gets through spring with seniors by trying out things she wants to do differently now, rather than waiting until next fall. With that in mind, I adjusted my introduction to today’s pinhole viewer lab. After a quick intro to the pinhole viewers, I had students get into their lab groups for a few minutes to talk about what they could change about the viewers. When I brought students back to have a whole class discussion of the pre-lab, students were much more involved and engaged than in prior pre-labs. Afterward, we went outside for students to spend some time exploring the ideas they’d come up with.

pinhole viewer.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Activity Series

Students worked on a worksheet that focused on predicting whether a reaction is possible based on the activity series. I’m struggling a lot with keeping students engaged right now; the students who were focused made sense of what I needed them to make sense of today, but I also had a lot of students who were very checked out. This is pretty typical of the last few weeks, so I need to keep working on helping students see the value in the day-to-day work.

Day 151: Inertial Balance, Shadows, & Activity Series

AP Physics: Inertial Balance

Since about 60% of my students are taking the AP Physics 1 exam on the make-up date, I’m adding in some review activities along with working on the final project. Today, I set up the inertial balance and asked students to make a few predictions about the motion, as well as what should happen when the mass is supported vertically. At the end of the hour, we used a motion detector to check students’ predictions.

For the final project, students’ proposal was due at the start of the school day today, and a few students told me they were hesitant about moving forward before seeing my feedback. Next time around, a Friday afternoon deadline may be better since then I can get feedback before their next class period.


Physics: Shadows

The other physics teacher and I decided to wrap up the year with some basic optics. Today, students made shadows and sketched ray diagrams to explain what they saw. A lot of students commented that the ray diagrams were a really useful tool to think about what was going on, which was nice to hear, since we’ve had to really work on buy-in on a lot of other diagrams this year.


Chemistry Essentials: Activity Series

Students did a simple lab to develop an activity series for several pure metals. Most of the solutions were 0.1 M, which wasn’t strong enough to get a very visible reaction in the time we had. Next time, I need to make sure I allow time to mix stronger solutions.

activity series.jpg

Day 149: Whiteboarding & Equilibrium

Physics: Whiteboarding

I had all of my students for the first time this week! We did some abbreviated whiteboarding of the labs and problems from this week as a way to summarize the big ideas we’ve been working on.


Chemistry: Equilibrium

Students set up a reversible reaction in several test tubes, then experimented with how to change the equilibrium. Afterward, we spent some time discussing the role energy plays in why some of the methods to disturb equilibrium worked.


Day 148: Intensity Problems & Equilibrium

Physics: Intensity Problems

Today is the last day I’ll be missing a significant number of students for AP testing. The students who were in class worked on some problems using the intensity relationship they found earlier this week. One class had a question I need to do some digging on. They were wondering if, when photons are released, they are already travelling at the speed of light, or if they have to accelerate from rest.

Chemistry: Equilibrium

Students spend a little time with the textbook working on vocabulary for equilibrium and reversible reactions. We also spent some time playing with the PhET sim on reversible reactions and they had a lot of great observations and ideas to try.

reversible phet

Day 147: Joly Photometer & Energy in Reactions

Physics: Joly Photometer

With over half of my students gone for another AP test today, I ended up giving them the hour to finish yesterday’s assignment with the Joly Photometer Direct Measurement Video. I’ll have a lot of students gone tomorrow for AP calc, so I need to figure out how I want to handle discussing the results of this and Monday’s lab.

Chemistry: Energy in Reactions

We talked about of yesterday’s lab, then took a look at energy changes in chemical reactions to start thinking about why some of the things we tried change the reaction rate.


Day 146: Joly Photometer & Reaction Rates

Physics: Joly Photometer

Students used the Joly Photometer Direct Measurement Video to find a relationship between light intensity and distance from a source. I could tell a lot of my students had an AP test yesterday; I spent a lot more time than usual discussing with lab groups what variables they should graph, how they should collect data on those variables, and how to interpret and linearize the graph. I think their struggles had more to do with how mentally fried the AP chem students were than anything else.

joly photometer.PNG

Chemistry: Reaction Rates

Students timed a reaction between copper chloride and hydrogen peroxide under different conditions to determine what impacts the reaction rate.


Day 145: Light Intensity & Exothermic vs. Endothermic

Physics: Light Intensity

About half of my students were gone for an AP exam today. The students who were here used a flashlight to find a relationship between the area light covers and the distance to a light source.IMG_1844

Chemistry: Exothermic vs. Endothermic Reactions

I introduced students to exothermic and endothermic reactions and we used a PhET simulation to look at the role of energy. Then, students did a short lab where they made observations of these two reactions.


Day 144: Ray Diagrams & Activity Series

Physics: Ray Diagrams

Students worked through some pinhole ray diagrams.

Chemistry: Activity Series

Students did a simple lab to produce an activity series for single replacement reactions. As we discussed the results, I realized students were not making the connection to what was replacing what. Next time, I think I’ll have students write out reaction equations ¬†for at least some of these and plan some questions to solidify the connections to single replacement reactions.

Day 143: Pinhole Cameras & Reaction Types

Physics: Pinhole Cameras

Students built simple pinhole cameras, then experimented with how to change the image that appeared and drew some ray diagrams to explain their observations. A lot of students were really thinking deeply about what the ray diagrams mean and how to interpret them to understand the image produced, which was great to see.

Chemistry: Reaction Types

Students did a lab where they observed each of the five reaction types in action. Several groups were really thinking through how their observations connected back to the reaction equation, which lead to some great conversations.


Day 142: Whiteboarding

Physics: Ray Diagram Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded their solutions to the shadow and color worksheets from earlier this week. Students had a good grasp of the ray diagrams and there was some good discussion about the color stuff. We used some overhead projectors with stained glass panes to test a few of the color questions.

Chemistry: Reaction Types Whiteboarding

Students whiteboarded their solutions to the problems on yesterday’s lab. Compared to last tri, students had a much better grasp of the different types, especially single replacement and double replacement. I think the Legos helped reinforced the physical meaning of the reaction equations.