17 Today’s Physics Olympics practice was going fine, and then it turned into a Gangnam Style dance party. Luckily, I had my phone handy!


16 Today my AP class worked with Vpython. We just started the unit on Newton’s Laws of Motion, so making a “cart” move along a track with a constant force applied to it seemed like a good beginning. This video shows the results of the first two-student team to finish the coding. I am pleased that it was a team of two girls.

I didn’t post yesterday because it was Yom Kippur and we did not have school. I did not post the day BEFORE yesterday because…well, I found nothing to take a photo of. I thought about photographing the histogram of multiple-choice scores from my first test in AP physics, but that just did not seem very exciting. In the conceptual class the students worked in groups on understanding position vs. time graphs while I checked notebooks and spoke with each group. So, not photogenic plus I was too busy talking to students. I am very happy that my conceptual classes are small enough that I can do that in one class period!

##AP ##vpython


14 Apparently this group of AP students found their assigned problem too easy. While they were waiting for the other groups to finish, they decorated their board. No, I don’t know what a Dido is. I thought they were headstones for graves.

Assessment 2


13 Today we had our second graphing assessment in the conceptual classes. It was supposed to be yesterday, but it made more sense to do the lab yesterday, so I asked the kids and they said having the assessment on Friday would be OK with them. Each subject area has days we are supposed to use for tests, and science gets Tuesdays and Thursdays. This was a quiz-length assessment, which can be scheduled any day.

Since these are conceptual-level kids, I gave them the formula for slope and y=mx + b on the front board. I will probably do that for as long as they need it. After all, that is something they could easily look up if they needed to know it “in the real world.”

##assessment ##graphing

Car/Bowling Ball

12 My conceptual students are working on the constant velocity model paradigm lab. Some of them use a toy car (with either one or two batteries powering it) and some of them use a bowling ball they let go off a small ramp.


##CVPM  ##paradigmlab  ##video

Activities Fair


11 Today our school held an activities fair, in which students had the opportunity to sign up for extracurricular activities, such as the drumming club, the news magazine, Model UN, and Science Competitions. I’m the Science Competitions co-sponsor, and we do Physics Olympics, DOE Science Bowl, the IIT Bridge Building contest, and whatever else kids want to compete in. I’ve been trying to revive our Science Olympiad team, but there doesn’t seem to be much interest. These three kids have been enthusiastic participants, and now they are encouraging more kids to sign up!



10 After school today we had our first Physics Olympics practice of the season. We participate in a league of nine schools that holds three meets per year. At each meet there are two “build-ahead” events and three “rotation” events, plus problem solving. The “build-aheads” require each school to bring completed items to the meet, like a mousetrap car or a catapult. The “rotation” events need to be practiced, because each team gets 25 minutes in a room with a given set of materials and has to accomplish something. Today one student worked on a module for the “Tower of Marsh” rotation event, in which students have to build the tallest tower with the smallest base, using nothing but flat toothpicks and mini-marshmallows. In future practices, we will see if this design holds up, and develop new designs.

This year’s first meet is October 20th.


9 My conceptual students are a mix of “getting it” and “not getting it” right now. So we did a quick review to get the pattern of variables, numbers, and units, fitting in with the overall pattern of axis labels and titles on graphs. For homework this weekend, they are doing Dan Meyer’s flight data activity and trying to get meaning out of slopes and y-intercepts. I’m grading their circle lab Lab Reports for my homework.



8 The AP class is investigating the effect of ramp angle on a cart’s acceleration. They are using motion sensors.


7 This graph originally had some errors. It is based on a linear data set that was one of several I assigned for graphing-by-hand practice. Students spotted the mistakes and we fixed them. Then as students practiced making graphs in Excel, we referred to this diagram to help customize the trendline equation from Excel. Conceptual students have their first graphing assessment tomorrow.

(I know I didn’t post yesterday. Oops.)