125 The AP class is investigating the resistivity of conductive dough. I was going to make it myself, but then I had jury duty and I had to ask the kids to make it and bring it in. Which they did! It seemed to work pretty well for some groups, but not for others. I will be experimenting on my own at home to troubleshoot some of the issues. Mostly, it had nothing to do with kids using the digital multimeters incorrectly to measure current, though if they did things wrong yesterday they may have blown a fuse and I could not tell. So that is another thing I need to check.


Pi Day!

pie120 The AP class had a test today, on potential and capacitance. Then we ate pie! The choices were: pumpkin, apple, blueberry, blackberry, chocolate, chocolate pudding, chocolate cream, and oreo/peanut butter ice cream pie!


20130305-104336.jpg113 Today the tech ed teacher sent a student to my room with a box full of breadboards and components. It’s like Christmas (or whatever other gift-giving holiday you celebrate)! I’m looking forward to sorting these and figuring out what all the ICs are. I’ve got a very enthusiastic student helper, too!


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!


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



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



101 A colleague asked me if I could send some AP students to his honors-level physics 1 classes to encourage them to sign up for AP Physics for next year. So I asked my AP class to tell me what periods they were available, what class they had during those periods, and why they should get to do this. Here are a few of the responses for why they should be selected for this mission. I love the last one:

I will aim to successfully utilize logos, pathos, and ethos, in addition to my fun attitude, in order to attract the young scholars.

I LOL’d! (see, I am hip and can use the young people’s slang!)

Equilibrium Practical

20130104-125218.jpg73 (I fell asleep before posting yesterday) The AP class is making mobiles. It is a tradition! I require that each must have a theme and students vote on the best theme. Really we are finished with equilibrium and are on Newtonian Gravitation, but we HAVE to do the mobiles!


today was all assessments all day, but after school the Physics Olympics team was working on prototyping electric cars for the next meet. This is one student and a prototype (we usually prototype with K’nex). Every February the electric car event specifies motors, voltage, size, and other aspects of the car, and scoring criteria. This year the goal is to build an efficient, fast car, and the score will be based on the time to go a specific distance and the total voltage of the batteries. Specifically,

Score = 100/(V x t)
where V is the magnitude of the sum of the potential difference ratings on all batteries in circuit, and t is the magnitude of the photogate time in seconds.

So, we want lightweight, low friction, one 1.5-volt cell, and it is important that the car go straight (not veering by more than 1.5 m over a 10-m track). We’ll work on perfecting the design over break and in the new year.

Physics Olympics Meet #2


EXTRA! We had our second Physics Olympics meet of the year yesterday. I am proud of this group of kids (and five others, not shown) for placing third in the DC Circuits Mystery Lab event, in which one of the things they had to do was determine the capacitance of a capacitor using the time constant, with a stopwatch and a voltmeter as their tools. We learned that technique less than a week ago, and haven’t gotten to the theory of it in AP Physics yet. Heck, we haven’t started E&M in AP Physics yet. I am also pleased that the problem-solving team solved all their problems correctly, including the one that had to be solved symbolically rather than numerically. But I am also angry at them for ignoring the instruction on significant figures. They had too many sig figs and that brought our score down.

We also took third place in the aluminum foil tower event, in which students had to build a tower with a 60-cm piece of foil which would support a ping-pong ball. Tallest tower wins. We got over 1 meter, but I don’t know by how much.

Unfortunately, we did not score very high in the build-ahead events, so overall we were in 7th place for the meet (out of 9 schools). But we are still in third place overall for the league to date, so he have hope. In the next meet, there will be an electric vehicle event, the efficient bridge event (we use the IIT rules and our event is the local qualifier for their contest), and the physics relay! The relay involves both athletic requirements and problem-solving, and is quite a challenge. My school used to dominate the relay, since I had athletes in my Physics 2 class. I’m hoping we can re-establish our awesomeness this year with the relay.

Final scores: