Day 14: Board Meeting, Dueling Buggies, & Density Challenge

AP Physics 1: Board Meeting

We had a board meeting on the impulse lab students have been working on. There were a few groups with really nice results, but this is a very tough one to get consistently accurate slopes, which made the discussion tough, even though my students did a nice job. It was a little tricky getting to the formula we’ll be using for impulse since the lab had a non-constant force, but the equation assumes a constant one. Next year, I might switch to the half-Atwood machine, rather than saving it for unbalanced forces.

impulse lab.jpg

Physics: Dueling Buggies

Students finished up the dueling buggies lab practical. I saw a much wider range of approaches than in my AP classes this year; most of my AP students are in the same math classes, which I think encourages them to think about problems in similar ways. My regular classes, meanwhile, have a much wider range of students, so there was a lot of great discussion about different ways to think about this problem.

dueling buggies.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Density Challenge

I am receiving access to Pivot Interactives this year in exchange for piloting some of their chemistry activities.

Students used Pivot Interactives to make mass vs. volume graphs to identify unknown liquids by their density. A lot of students had some trouble getting started, but, once I pointed out the similarities to the density of water lab we’d done, they were very successful. The videos don’t zero the balance so that the graph will end up with an intercept; this was the first graph with a non-zero intercept they’ve seen in this class, so it was challenging, but we were able to work through it. I think just about every group picked gallium as their unknown liquid, which is fitting, since it would be the hardest to do in the classroom.

pivot density.PNG


Day 13: Impulse, Dueling Buggies, & Mistakes Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Impulse

Students finished up their data collection for the impulse lab. Some groups have really nice looking data, while other groups have graphs where the pattern is much less clear. I need to spend some time trouble-shooting this lab to see about getting more consistent results. Most of the groups did a nice job of taking turns operating the LabQuest, even without me explicitly directing them to.


Physics: Dueling Buggies

Students wrapped up yesterday’s mistakes whiteboarding, then started work predicting where two buggies would collide. My classes, especially my 1st hour, are taking very quickly to mistakes whiteboarding, so the conversations were much better than I usually expect at this time of year.

dueling buggiea.jpg

Chemistry: Density Mistakes Whiteboarding

We only got through one problem yesterday, so we finished doing mistakes whiteboarding for some density problems. Yesterday, it was very tough to get students to speak up, so today I had students spend a minute or two talking to a neighbor about each whiteboard before we shifted to whole class discussion, which helped a little. The biggest factor was a few students who were gone yesterday were very eager to participate and, once they asked some questions, other students seemed more comfortable speaking up.

Day 12: Impulse & Mistakes Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Impulse

We started by discussing the idea that both the magnitude of a force and the amount of time its applied seem to matter for changes in momentum to get to the idea that we could compare the area of a force vs. time graph to the change in velocity. Students used elastic strings to connect carts to force sensors and started collecting data. This was the first lab where students used the dynamics track and where they collected quantitative data from the LabQuests, but students seemed to get comfortable with the equipment pretty quickly.


Physics: CVPM Mistakes Whiteboarding

Students did mistakes whiteboarding with yesterday’s quantitative CVPM problems. In my 1st hour, a lot of groups were very vocal about picking a mistake one of them had made, and I love the way this places a value on their mistakes and gives them the opportunity to conquer the mistake.

phys mistake.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Density Mistakes Whiteboarding

This was my chemistry class’s first experience with mistakes whiteboarding. I started the hour with a short vocabulary review that seemed to help cement the key concepts we’re working with. The class was very quiet during the whiteboard presentations, so we only go through one. I think tomorrow I’ll have them do some talking to a neighbor about each board before we shift to whole class.

chem mistake.jpg

Day 11: Uncertainty, Problems, & More Problems

AP Physics 1: Uncertainty

We did a quick preview of tomorrow’s lab on impulse, then talked about the challenges of finding the uncertainty of measurements given the tools we have so far. This lead into Brad Wysocki’s measurement lab to take a look at uncertainty caused primarily by your measuring tool. In my 2nd hour, I asked groups to find the area of some index cards using each ruler, but the size of the cards lined up too nicely with the rulers and the main points weren’t as clear as I’d like. In my 4th hour, I switched to Post-Its and the uncertainty was much clearer.


Physics: CVPM Problems

Students started working problems using CVPM. The problem set started with several descriptions of motion and students had to determine which statements CVPM could apply to. That was a more challenging task than I expected, largely because a lot of students were not clear about what I meant by CVPM, so I need to work on keeping that language clear. I also found my 1st hour, that mostly worked individually on the last problems, very easily shifted to working in groups today while a had a lot of students in my 6th hour opting to work alone, even though most of them went into groups on their own last time.

Chemistry Essentials: Density Problems

We started by discussing the results of yesterday’s lab. I ended up projecting some data I collected rather than making whiteboards. When we were talking about whether measuring a bigger dowel would give a different density, student comments revealed some of the class was interpreting data points on my graph as dots in a particle diagram. I’m really excited that my students are looking for connections between the different representations and are willing to share their thinking, even if we have some work to do on distinguishing between those representations.

Afterward, students worked on some problems relating particle diagrams, mass vs. volume graphs, and density. A lot of students had trouble getting started because they were struggling with the vocabulary; I pretty quickly wished I’d put together a short vocabulary activity to reinforce terms before we got to work.


Day 10: p-t Graphs, Groupwork Reflection, & Density

AP Physics: p-t Graphs

Students sketched momentum vs. time graphs for bowling balls hit with various combinations of taps, then we got out billiard balls and motion detectors to transition to true momentum vs. time graphs. It was a little tricky for students to predict what the graph would look like when the billiard ball reversed direction, but we got there by the end of the hour.

Physics: Groupwork Reflection

Today we had a few whiteboards to finish from Friday and a quiz to take. One of my goals this year is to improve the quality of the collaboration in my classroom, so we also took a few minutes to talk about some of the different abilities students needed to complete the problems and mistakes whiteboarding, then I asked students to complete a short reflection based on a list of things effective groups do I got from Scot Hovan at a modeling workshop. I haven’t had a chance to read the reflections yet, but it looked like students were giving it some good thought and I overheard several students showing their reflection to a peer they’d used as a positive example.

Chemistry Essentials: Density

We got out the metal dowels from last week’s volume lab to find their density. I asked groups to design their own experiment, and wished I’d taken the time for a little more discussion on what makes a good experiment. The worksheet I used started with questions about what variables they needed and how to measure those variables, but a lot of students had trouble with articulating how they would get a variety of values for the data table.


Day 9: Momentum, Mistakes Whiteboarding, & Board Meeting

AP Physics 1: Momentum

We discussed what students saw in yesterday’s bowling ball lab to get to a rule for how taps affect motion. Yesterday, a lot of groups started having conversations about how the size of the tap and the mass of the bowling ball plays into how much the motion changes, so I took advantage of that to introduce the definition of momentum, which lead smoothly into framing Newton’s 1st Law in terms of changes in momentum.

bowling ball race.jpg

Physics: Mistakes Whiteboarding

I introduced mistakes whiteboarding today with some photos from the first time I made fried mozzarella with nectarines and balsamic glaze so we could have some discussion about which photo did more for my learning. Students then whiteboarded yesterday’s problems and had some great discussion about the problems.

Chemistry Essentials: Board Meeting Continued

Today, we picked up discussing yesterdays lab on density. Since we’d made a good list of observations about the graphs yesterday, today I had students whiteboard “for every” statements describing their slopes, which, along with particle diagrams, lead nicely into a definition of slope. For next time, I’d love to find a second liquid that gives a pretty nice slope so students can contrast the two.

Day 8: Bowling Balls, Motion Maps, & Density

AP Physics 1: Bowling Balls

Students worked on a bowling ball and mallet lab based on Frank Noschese’s version. There was some good debate about whether a bowling ball needs to be tapped to roll at a constant speed, so we used the Motion Shot app to make a motion map we could use to check.


Physics: Motion Maps

To introduce motion maps, I drove a fridge rover across my whiteboard and marked the position at regular time intervals. Motion maps also linked nicely back to the buggy lab, since I forced students to use time as the independent variable. Students then worked on problems; in my 1st hour, most of my students chose to work at desks mostly independently, which I think made the problems more challenging for both my students and for me. In my 6th hour, I started by letting students know the problems were designed to be done in groups and talked about the advantages of completing the task in a group. I’m also wondering if it would help if I made more use of a strategy I got from Designing Groupwork: Strategies for Heterogeneous Classrooms where we take time for some explicit class discussions about what skills are needed for a task to emphasize the value of multiple abilities.

motion map.jpg

Chemistry Essentials: Density of Water

Students did a lab to find the density of water, then we had a short board meeting with the results. We kept the board meeting pretty simple and I was very pleased with how it went; my favorite observation is a student who noticed that different groups had data points at different masses, but every group still got the same slope.