Day 20: Forces and Jumping

In our last class (which was a week ago), the Mechanics kids had whiteboarded a problem about a student jumping (which I got from Noah Segal, who—in addition to being a great physics teacher—is also a wizard of MS Word art): The discussion (last class) was centered around the first situation. The original whiteboard showed…

Day 13: Newton’s 2nd Law Experiment

We started Unbalanced Forces, so now we’re really doing physics! Of course, we started by doing an experiment. It was so cool to jump into our first real pre-lab with kids who’ve been there with me before. I showed them something and they exclaimed, “Observations!” and started listing them before I even really finished showing them…

Day 12: First Quiz and Density Experiment in Chem 9

We started class by talking about my weird and hippie grading ways. Then we took our first quiz. I didn’t announce it ahead of time because I thought it would be better if we talked about how the grading would work right before they took it (and minimized the potential anxiety about assessments and grades)….

Day 11: Bear and the Honey and the final day of CAPM

We spent our Mechanics class solving problems and working on good habits (keeping units attached to numbers, using physically meaningful symbols). I let it take up the time today, and I went around to different groups as they worked to get as many people as possible to see how using the slope and the area…

Day 10: Building Boats in Chemistry

Most of our class time today in Chem 9 was spent building boats and following an only slightly edited version of this activity. In the morning, many students noted wearily that they had built boats to float pennies many times (even multiple years in middle school). I promised them that this activity would be different…

Day 9: Rules for the Direction of the Unbalanced Force

The set of problems today asked students to draw multiple representations based on given velocity-time graphs, but also to say whether the forces were balanced, unbalanced in the positive direction, or unbalanced in the negative direction. After the first problem, one student volunteered a rule (I didn’t prompt this!)—that the unbalanced forces were correlated with the acceleration….

Day 8: “Aha” moments with kinematics graphs

Kinematics is clicking into place for the Mechanics students. We wrapped up the TIPERs problems in our packet (including whiteboarding), and we’re ready to add in the quantitative side by using the graphs to solve problems. For this problem, there was a lively discussion about tangent lines (ARE THEY REAL OR MADE UP???), the intermediate value theorem, and…

Day 7: Volume in mL and cubic cm

One of my Chem 9 sections needed to finish whiteboarding the final bit of the Mass & Change, so this morning started with the 9th grade’s best whiteboarding session so far. They talked for a (relatively) long time without any intervention from me, asking each other about whether the alka-seltzer dissolves like sugar (“breaking up…

Day 6: Translating between graphs, TIPERs, and Light Clocks

Relativity (the class) made the shift from “regular old” relative motion to the beginnings of Special Relativity by thinking about the light clock. When we were trying to think about the difference in path length for the light in the stationary clock versus moving clock, one student went up to make the connection to the…

Day 5: Mass & Change Whiteboards

On our third day of chemistry, we spent most of our time making and discussing whiteboards to represent each part of the mass and change experiments. Here is a great selection of the boards from various parts of the process. (Many of these boards were later edited because of different ideas in the discussions.) I…

Day 4: Position, Velocity, Acceleration

We sorted ourselves into new (random) groups, worked for a bit, started whiteboarding problems, and finished with our first quiz in Advanced Mechanics. We were working on this TIPERs problem (pasted into a page in my CAPM packet): It’s the first time I’ve used this problem, and I am totally in love with it. Amazing…

Day 3: What does a negative acceleration mean?

We didn’t answer that question today, but we asked it a lot. Almost everyone in the class has really wondered that on their own by now. One student has proposed that it has to do with the direction of the forces, but that didn’t get much traction (yet). We will come back to that question…