Day 7: First Day of Classes!

YAY! At long last, classes are finally happening! I love these first days.

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My relativity class got started with a buggy investigation this morning. The groups spread out around the school wherever they could find space since our class doesn’t meet in the physics lab. Really eager, lively group, and I’m excited to get to the really confusing stuff soon. We’re spending the first two weeks getting our heads wrapped around frames of reference (these kids haven’t taken any mechanics, so I’m going to take that first part slow). That still leaves 8 weeks for getting really confused about special relativity. I can’t wait.

My 9th grade trimester class got started today, too. We began by looking at a coupled pendulum and talking about what was surprising. They made awesome observations and set the groundwork for talking about energy (and then for coming back to oscillating particles and waves later in the trimester).

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Then we spent 20 minutes or so in an open-ended way with a Direct Measurement Video. These kids crushed it. First day of high school and I would have sworn they were juniors, not freshmen. They figured out how to use the tools, made plans for how to measure things, and then looked up other reference speeds because they weren’t sure if the speeds they were calculating made sense or not. A couple of times I couldn’t get their attention back easily because they were so wrapped up in this video. All of this even though I basically gave them no instructions or goals at all—I just let them play and see what they could do. I’m planning to use more of these videos later in the class, and it seemed like a good, accessible way to jump right in to thinking without needing any talking from me first. After that, we did the flavors of energy talk and I promised it would be the only day of the trimester that I gave them notes. Next class will be playing with the skate park PhET, then LOL diagrams.

I want to talk about my Great Experiments in Science elective that started this afternoon, but I forgot to take photos. They are doing similar activities tomorrow, though, so I will plan to write about them for Day 8. Spoiler alert: they are using microscopes. Get psyched.

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