Day 2: “Where something is” and Lighting Bulbs

One section of Physics 10 had its second day today. We articulated what position was and did a second take of the buggy lab with measurements of position instead of distance. Another amazing board meeting happened by the end of class, along with some beginnings of realizations about how important units really are for communication. (“How could some of us have a slope of 19 and some … Continue reading Day 2: “Where something is” and Lighting Bulbs

Day 1: Dice, Histograms, and Buggies

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 … Continue reading Day 1: Dice, Histograms, and Buggies

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 ball falling on the moving cart from the Frames of … Continue reading Day 6: Translating between graphs, TIPERs, and Light Clocks

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