Day 161: Final Project Presentations, Lab Final, & Nuke Whiteboarding

This will probably be my last post of the year. Today was the last day for seniors, so my Physics and AP Physics 1 classes wrapped up today. My Chemistry Essentials class is mostly juniors, which means they will continue through the end of next week, but I’ll miss out since I’m going to the AP Physics reading.

This year, I’ve been doing a lot of work to try and build a strong whole-class culture and, compared to previous years, I had a lot more students talk about how they’ll missing being in their specific hour of physics, suggesting there was a strong sense of community. That was a really exciting element of my last day for the year.

AP Physics 1: Final Project Presentations

We finished up final project presentations. There was one group that designed and built a rig to reliably launch a hockey puck to measure the stopping distance along various surfaces in order to determine toe coefficient of friction. For the final, students were given a spring with a known spring constant and tasked with finding the mass of a mystery object.

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Physics: Lab Final

Students did a lab practical for the second half of their final exam. There was lots of great conversation as students worked through the problem and it was a lot of fun for me to see students using so many of the skills we’ve been working on this year.

Chemistry Essentials: Nuke Whiteboarding

We did a quick refresher on nuclear decay using the whiteboards before taking the quiz on nuclear chemistry.

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Day 160: Final Project Presentations, Final Exam Part 1, & Mistakes Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Final Project Presentations

We started presenting final projects. I have each group prepare a presentation, but am pretty lenient on length. I have a couple of students on the trap shooting team that presented today on their examination of the recoil on a shotgun. I hadn’t realized the shotgun barrel is above the center of mass, so there is an upward recoil in addition to the backward recoil.

Physics: Final Exam Part 1

Seniors are done tomorrow, but we’re on a standard schedule both today and tomorrow. To accommodate that, we split the physics final exam into two parts. Today, students took a pretty standard written final.

Chemistry Essentials: Mistakes Whiteboarding

I showed students a table to organize their work on half life calculations, then we did some mistakes whiteboarding on yesterday’s problems. The table made the problems much easier for a lot of students, which was great.

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Day 157: Senior Skip Day & Mistakes Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1 & Physics: Senior Skip Day

Today was senior skip day, so only a few of my students were in class. Most of the AP students opted to work on their final project and some of the Physics students started reviewing for the final.

Chemistry Essentials: Mistakes Whiteboarding

We did some mistakes whiteboarding with problems for nuclear decay. I had a few students ask how we know alpha particles are always helium-4, which got me wondering if there’s a better way I could introduce the types of nuclear decay we study than just giving some notes on the types of decay we’ll be using.

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Day 156: Final Project Work & Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Final Project Work

Students continued working on their final projects. One group is working on how the speed of a basketball affects the rebound of a backboard. They were working on some energy bar charts today and came up with some interesting notation; they labeled their kinetic energy blocks with “H” and “V” to keep track of how the components of the velocity were changing and how that fit with the energy.

Physics: Mirror Calculations Gallery Walk

Students did a gallery walk of yesterday’s problems. My sub from yesterday commented on how well they’d collaborated on the problems, so I was surprised that my students felt very lost on the problems. Once we started whiteboarding, it was clear they knew how to do the problems, but just weren’t confident yet.

I’ve also been randomly assigning groups almost every day, and I’ve come to enjoy the first few minutes of whiteboarding. Students immediately start comparing answers and approaches with the other people in their group and have lots of great conversation about similarities and differences in their work.

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Chemistry Essentials: Nuclear Notation Gallery Walk

Students whiteboarded yesterday’s problems translating between different representations of an isotope for a gallery walk. Afterward, we started working on some problems writing out nuclear reactions for alpha and beta decay. I wish the decay problems started with some where the nucleus is reasonable to draw to help make identifying the products of the decay more concrete.

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Day 154: Final Projects, Mistakes Whiteboarding, & Nuclear Structure PhET

AP Physics 1: Final Projects

Students continued to work on their final projects. I have one group that’s interested in finding a way to measure the rate my Van de Graaff generator builds up charge. They spent some time today experimenting with ways to indirectly measure the charge.

Physics: Ray Diagram Mistake Whiteboarding

Students did some mistakes whiteboarding with ray diagrams for curved mirrors. Several students commented on mistakes they thought were especially helpful or interesting, which made me feel really good about the culture I try to build in my class. Students were also sad when they realized this will be their last round of mistakes whiteboarding in high school.

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Chemistry Essentials: PhET Nuclear Structure

Students used PhET’s Build an Atom simulation to experiment with nuclear structure to kick of our nuclear chemistry unit. A lot of the information was a review from the first half of the course, but most needed a refresher.

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Day 153: Final Projects, Ray Diagrams, & Whiteboarding

AP Physics 1: Final Projects

Students continued work on their final projects. One group wants to figure out the charge vs. time function for my Van de Graaff generator. All three students in the group have different predictions for what that function will look like, which lead to some debates with lots of great thinking.

Physics: Ray Diagrams

Students finished working on some ray diagrams for curved mirrors and prepped whiteboards for some mistakes whiteboarding on Monday. Yesterday, a lot of students got frustrated when the rays didn’t meet perfectly or when they had to use virtual rays, but I think a lot of that resolved today.

Chemistry Essentials: Reaction Types Whiteboarding

As a quick refresher before today’s quiz, I gave students a fairly long worksheet, then had them pick out one example of each reaction type to put on a whiteboard. One student showed me how he’s been splitting the formulas in single replacement and double replacement reactions to relate back to general forms like AB + CD → AD + BC.

reaction types splitting

Day 151: Final Project Work, Curved Mirrors Round 2, & Gallery Walk

AP Physics 1: Final Project Work

Students continued working on their final projects. One group that is also in AP Computer Science is planning to write a program to model the motion of a soccer ball got excited when they realized they can change gravity in their project.

Physics: Curved Mirrors Round 2

The data from yesterday’s lab was pretty rough, so we used a simulation from The Physics Classroom to collect some idealized data. Students prepped their boards, but we ran out of time for the board meeting.

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Chemistry Essentials: Gallery Walk

We did a gallery walk to go over the answers to yesterday’s problems using an activity series to predict whether a single replacement reaction is likely.

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