Modern Physics (for 11th/12th graders) started with a variation of a Quarknet Data Portfolio activity to learn how to make histograms and to start thinking about how they could be useful.
There were multiple parts to the activity. In one part, they found sums for pairs of dice. They made histograms for their groups, but also pooled data as a class and made one big histogram.
They definitely saw the value of having LOTS of data.
Highlight: I used (as usual) Random.org to make random groups. Students thought about how they could use the histogram to see if the website REALLY randomized things (and discussed what a scandal it would be if it wasn’t really random).
Physics 10 (our brand new yearlong course for 10th graders!) jumped right in with an experiment for a “consistent speed” (their words) cart.
These students came in well-trained from Chem 9 last year, and they were able to do the pre-lab, take data, make graphs by hand, find equations of lines, make whiteboards, and have really impressive board meetings all in 65 minutes.
In the board meetings, I hardly had to speak at all. Students dug into the meanings of the slopes and intercepts, matched the slopes to the different cars, thought about units, questioned choices others made, asked about how other groups found the slopes on their graph, and listened to lots of voices. Almost completely on their own. This is where we are starting on Day 1. Can’t wait for Days 2 through n.
Lots of visitors (other faculty) were in and out of the classroom throughout the day, which was also a great thing to start on Day 1. (Evidence: Alan photobombing students taking data in a photo on this page.)