Sept 16 Physics Teacher’s Blog

We have finished the first couple weeks of physics class at BUA. During the first two weeks we studied statics, inertia, and weight.  Towards the end the students struggled through an introduction to vectors and trigonometry.  We will revisit vectors when we get to dynamics in two weeks.  You can view a lot of cool demos from our opening weeks on my Facebook page.

Cinderblock demo

Tablecloth demo

We had a lot of fun with inertia in the opening days.  Over the next two weeks we will be exploring kinematics, velocity and acceleration.  That will develop into an exploration of the physics of the fable of Galileo dropping objects of different mass from the top of the Tower of Pisa.

During these opening weeks the students are learning a lot of skills related work for the year.  How to take notes, how to learn at home and optimize their work in the classroom.  In class we are using a cloud based software called Visual Classroom.  Visual Classroom is a collaboration tool which allows students to work together, share knowledge, and engage in joint-sense making.  We begin with a virtual conversation and then develop a verbal conversation.

Competition is good, but I am trying to get students to compete not against each other but with each other.   Each class, or House, is competing against the others to outdo each other.  Last year, Slytherin won the Physics House Cup.

The students are learning to use a variety of equipment in their experimentation.  I try to avoid canned labs where every group uses the exact same equipment and has the same procedure.  Using Visual Classroom, students can compare their procedure to that of other groups.  By collaborating with their classmates as a whole they are developing a boarder experimental understanding.  Although it slows things down, I like this better than just telling them the best way to do an experiment with known results.  Today we started with simple experiments to measure the velocity of a LEGO robot, and will soon move into more complicated kinematic examples.

One way of understanding my laboratory philosophy is to watch this video which just came out from DEILAB.  I had the honor of helping to teach this workshop over the summer over at Cathedral High School.

To quote Aron Lee “Success is a collaborative art.  Remember this day, remember what you did, remember how you felt, know what your power is, don’t let anyone else dictate your possibilities.  Failure is good if you learn from it and fail forward.”