Day 154: Final Projects, Mistakes Whiteboarding, & Nuclear Structure PhET

AP Physics 1: Final Projects

Students continued to work on their final projects. I have one group that’s interested in finding a way to measure the rate my Van de Graaff generator builds up charge. They spent some time today experimenting with ways to indirectly measure the charge.

Physics: Ray Diagram Mistake Whiteboarding

Students did some mistakes whiteboarding with ray diagrams for curved mirrors. Several students commented on mistakes they thought were especially helpful or interesting, which made me feel really good about the culture I try to build in my class. Students were also sad when they realized this will be their last round of mistakes whiteboarding in high school.

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Chemistry Essentials: PhET Nuclear Structure

Students used PhET’s Build an Atom simulation to experiment with nuclear structure to kick of our nuclear chemistry unit. A lot of the information was a review from the first half of the course, but most needed a refresher.

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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 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.

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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.

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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 149: Free Response, Curved Mirrors, & Activity Series

AP Physics 1: Free-Response

The 2019 free response were released last Thursday. I always have some students interested in discussing the problems, so I offered to go through my solutions with interested students today. The students who opted into the discussion said they struggled in the spots I expected them to, but felt really good about the rest of the problems. We’ll see for sure in July!

Physics: Curved Mirrors

We discussed the results of Friday’s lab, especially some rough ray diagrams I had students sketch. We also got a nice visual of the focal point using a big concave mirror, a ray box that fires several laser beams, and some chalk dust.

Chemistry Essentials: Activity Series

Students combined several different metals and nitrates to rank the reactivity of the metals. One of the reactions is fairly subtle, but students did a nice job of recognizing what was being produced in each reaction.

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Day 148: Survey, Curved Mirrors, & Pivot Reaction Types

I was out today, so my classes had a sub.

AP Physics 1: Survey

My district requires all teachers to have students complete a teacher evaluation survey. Since it’s ideal to have students complete it without the teacher in the room, I picked today.  Teachers chose which classes to give the survey to; since AP Physics 1 is the only class where I keep the same students all year, I decided to survey them. While there are certainly flaws in student evaluations, I am interested in seeing the results to get another view of the culture in my classroom.

Physics: Curved Mirrors

Students did a lab to play with curved mirrors to start building some ideas about the images formed by concave and convex mirrors.

Chemistry Essentials: Pivot Interactives Reaction Types

I am as part of Pivot Interactive’s Chemistry Fellows program.

Students used Pivot Interactives to get one more look at some of the different reaction types before their quiz. Along with a single replacement and a double replacement reaction, I had students use what they know about synthesis reactions to finally explain why burning steel wool gets heavier.

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Day 146: Exam Debrief & Mistakes Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Exam Debrief

A lot of my students were gone today for the AP Literature exam. I took some time to introduce the final project students will be working on, then we talked a little about how they felt the AP Physics 1 exam went. Most students felt better about the free response than the multiple choice, which is pretty consistent with what I’ve heard from past years.

Physics: Mirror Mistakes

We did some mistakes whiteboarding with ray diagrams for plane mirrors and students pretty quickly got the hang of the diagrams. One student declared we need a song for mistakes whiteboarding; I’ll be sure to update if we come up with one.

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Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Types Mistakes

We did mistakes whiteboarding with some problems for recognizing different reaction types. Students were very successful at making sense of these problems and I hat pretty minimal intervention.

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Day 145: AP Exam Day, Ray Diagrams, & Reaction Types

AP Physics 1: AP Exam Day

My second hour met this morning before the AP Physics 1 exam. I didn’t want to force them to spend an hour doing tough physics just before the exam, so I left the day pretty open. A couple of students brought cookies to share. When the class discovered one student hadn’t heard of Go Fish, they got out some playing cards and taught him the game.

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Physics: Ray Diagrams

Students worked on some problems drawing ray diagrams for plane mirrors. They had some trouble picking out which rays were important, but managed to get the hang of it by the end.

Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Types Problems

Students worked on some problems identifying different reaction types. I was really pleased with how many students defaulted to explaining their thinking about what the particles were doing when they asked for help.

Day 144: Lab Practical, Board Meeting, & Lego Reaction Types

AP Physics 1: Lab Practical

Today was our last day of regular class before the AP exam. We worked on a lab practical where students figure out where to drop an unrolling toilet paper roll so that it will hit the ground as a roll that is simply dropped. I’ve got a worksheet where I added some questions to hit most of the topics from mechanics. I didn’t have any groups finish, but they did a lot of good thinking.


Physics: Plane Mirror Board Meeting

Students whiteboarded their results from Friday’s plane mirror lab. Several groups had some trouble distinguishing between units and variables in their equation because they were thrown off by the unitless slope, but we were able to work through it.

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Chemistry Essentials: Lego Reaction Types

Students did a lab manipulating cubes to go from the reactants to the products for the major types of reactions we are learning to reinforce what is going on at the particle level. I usually use Legos, but forgot to ask a colleague to bring them in, so we pulled out the Mathlink cubes.

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Day 143: Model Summaries, Reflection Lab, & Reading

AP Physics 1: Model Summaries

My favorite dedicated review activity is model summaries, where students whiteboard key diagrams and formulas for each model. Students have those diagrams in their toolkits, so today was mostly about reminding students to use them and reassuring them they know how to use these tools.


Physics: Reflection Lab

Students collected data for a relationship between the incident angle and reflected angle in a mirror. We did the pre-lab discussion yesterday, and I did have to get ornery about reminding students to go back to their notes from that discussion to get started, but the lab went very smoothly from there. We’d bought some laser pointers a year or two ago, so I had students use those instead of pins in cardboard, and I really like that students could see the light rays directly.

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Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Types Reading

I’ve got some ideas for a card sort to introduce reaction types, but ran out of time to put something together and went back to a reading in our textbook. I had students write definitions for each reaction type using both the textbook language and their own words and I had students come up with their own larger categories for the reaction types, both of which lead to some good discussion.