IMG_20130228_095447110 We experimentally determined equipotential lines in AP physics today, using digital multimeters and carbon-infused conductive paper. It was a small class due to DECA, the musical, and a swim meet, so a bunch of kids will have to make it up, but that should not be too bad. I’ll be putting these pretty drawings on the bulletin board.

Projectile Motion Map

20130226-144356.jpg108 This is another colored-pencil activity I do with my conceptual students. We start with just the vertical motion and then put it together with horizontal motion. Everyone in the class winds up with their own copy made with their own color choices.

I used to do this with transparencies on an overhead projector, having photocopied graph paper (red line graph paper, not blue line graph paper) onto the transparencies. I think maybe I ink-jet-printed a couple of transparencies, too. Those water-soluble markers would then get all over my hands, where they were suddenly no longer water-soluble. (WHY???) Anyway, then after a year or so of using the Promethean ActivBoard, I discovered how to put a grid on a page in a flipchart. Bye-bye transparencies! Now I only get out the overhead projector when I need a bright light source for something.




20130226-144501.jpg107 One of the things I love about Excel is making 3-D surface charts. Here a student has placed three charges and has entered formulas to calculate the electric potential at a grid of points around the region where the charges are. You can find instructions in this pdf by Bob Beichner. The instructions have been published in The Physics Teacher [Phys. Teach. 35, 95 (1997)].


Extra: Third Place!

P1020460EXTRA POST! WE CAME IN THIRD! We had a small group this time, at the third and final meet of the Physics Olympics season. Some of our kids were at Academic Team, some were at an Indoor Track Meet, and some were at an all-day rehearsal for the musical, Hairspray!, which is scheduled for this week Thursday – Saturday. However, we were able to maintain our third place status!

This meet had an odd beginning, since less than two weeks ago the senior coach at one of the schools died suddenly. We began with a remembrance of him, and a couple of us said a few words. Then it was a lot of work for my kids, as all of them were involved in most of the events! There was an odd ending as well: two teams tied for first place! When there is a tie score, we skip the next place number, so there was no second place team. But two teams tied for third place, too! Our team and the other school from my district that competes, Henderson HS, tied! Of course, Henderson HS is East’s arch-rival!

This was the final meet for seniors, of course, including my team captain of the past two years. This is a wonderful moment. Third place is the highest we have ever scored, as the two top teams dominate every meet. Since I have been the coach (this is my 11th year) we have never placed this high!


106 Some of my kids are missing today’s (Friday, 2/22) lecture on electric potential. So I had three kids video it, and I am trying to edit it into one video. Tiring! But here is a small clip.

Hall Duty

IMG_20130221_103144 105 Three days out of the week I have hall duty fourth period. I check to make sure all the doors are shut and locked, none of the girls’ bathrooms have fresh graffiti (and I report it if they do), and that every student in the halls has a hall pass. I also get to see what is on the walls of the school. Posters for the upcoming musical. Posters for the 5K last Fall that somehow were never taken down. Advertisements for the student council’s weekly donuts-and-cocoa sale. Art projects that change every few weeks. And there are a few paintings like this one, which look right from one point of view only. The Physics 2 Honors classes make these every year with colored “duct” tape, and a few are popular enough to wind up permanently painted on the walls. This one is near our “Little Vikings” preschool where teens take part in the childcare. Here is a slightly different view:IMG_20130221_103154


104 These are a few of our videos for analysis in the conceptual classes. The last clip in the video is in “instant replay” mode. Students will be producing several graphs and answering questions designed to help them connect projectile motion to the balanced force model and the unbalanced force model.




103 Today the conceptual classes had an introduction to projectiles, which consisted of playing catch with a soft foam apple. After playing and noting some different paths that the apple took, we decided on some possible factors that affect that path.IMG_20130219_081436


Free Fall

102 When we investigate free fall, we drop picket fences, and we also fling them upward using rubber bands. This does not work every time, but it is quick enough to get five good trials with usable slopes. We compare the slopes of these graphs to the slopes of graphs made with the dropped picket fences.



20130215-103718.jpg102 I gave out these valentines from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories to my AP class.