Day 33: Rocket Train Simulation in Relativity

Relativity has been spending several days working carefully through a set of questions and using a computer simulation that Noah Segal put together (based on David Mermin’s rocket train situation). You can see a similar activity in this post by Chad Orzel about a low-tech class simulation. The questions are challenging, so every once in a while we’ve been whiteboarding our ideas and sharing them with each other. Continue reading Day 33: Rocket Train Simulation in Relativity

Day 29: Light and Color Free Play

This week’s focus in Great Experiments is Newton, light, and color. We started with some time for free exploration and play with a selection of materials from the “light stuff” cabinet. We tried to make the room as dark as possible (with mediocre success). I just let them find interesting effects with the goal of finding something worth sharing with the class. After a while, we … Continue reading Day 29: Light and Color Free Play

Day 22: Spontaneous Generation

In our last Great Experiments class, we read about Pasteur’s broth experiment and thought a little about how we might recreate it. Today, I set up the supplies I had for them and let them take the lead on setting things up, making choices, and actually doing the work. They worked through the various gas nozzles not working, how to get the bunsen burner set … Continue reading Day 22: Spontaneous Generation

Day 18: Learning through conversation

Teaching this Great Experiments in Science class is stretching me in lots of different ways. I am working with material outside of my most comfortable content area. I am gathering materials and doing experiments that I haven’t done before (sometimes even physics ones). I am figuring out how to teach a really interdisciplinary class, and the humanities side of it (especially doing readings and structuring discussions about readings) … Continue reading Day 18: Learning through conversation

Day 17: Free Fall Mini Project

Great Experiments is continuing to work on their Galileo unit. We started today sharing our experiences with finding ways to take data about position and time for objects rolling down ramps. There were several different ideas, including two different video approaches, using a stopwatch while releasing the ball from different distances, and putting rubber bands on the track to make a “metronome” as the ball … Continue reading Day 17: Free Fall Mini Project

Day 14: Galileo and Veritasium

Our next set of investigations in Great Experiments is focused on Galileo. When I was prepping for the class this summer, I read Galileo for the first time, and one of my first thoughts (besides, “Wow! This is amazing! Why haven’t I read this before?”) was how much it was like a Veritasium video. That also seemed like a gentler way in for the kids, so … Continue reading Day 14: Galileo and Veritasium

Day 12: Water isn’t an element

Great Experiments switched from microscopes to chemistry today for a one-day investigation into how people knew elements were elements. That idea is something that always bothered me as a student—saying an element is the simplest component of something is fine, but how did people know that something was the simplest component? That part always seemed left out of chemistry classes. So today we talked about … Continue reading Day 12: Water isn’t an element

Day 11: Enthusiastic Arguments in Relativity

In Relativity, we continued with our relative motion questions (via Preconceptions in Mechanics). We’ve been using Plickers, which the kids really adore (and which I feel ambivalent about—the tech is really nice and works easily and quickly; I don’t like that it forces everyone to the same pace). In any case, the discussions have been… animated. You can get just a tiny sense of things … Continue reading Day 11: Enthusiastic Arguments in Relativity

Day 8: Hooke, Micrographia, and our own experiments with microscopes

One of my trimester electives (11th/12th grade science) right now is called Great Experiments in Science. The idea is for it to be a really interdisciplinary course where we engage with primary source documents, read some secondary sources, and try to recreate experiments (or parts of experiments) across the sciences. (No big deal, right?) I am also hoping to bring a social justice thread into … Continue reading Day 8: Hooke, Micrographia, and our own experiments with microscopes

Day 7: First Day of Classes!

YAY! At long last, classes are finally happening! I love these first days. 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 … Continue reading Day 7: First Day of Classes!