Day 3: Hints at CAPM and Vectors

No student pictures today, unfortunately. Maybe I should start planning classes around good photo opportunities, because that means the students are doing interesting things. Thoughts to ponder.

Physics: We spent almost the entire period going over the homework, which was fine, because it let me introduce some new ideas and ways of thinking about things in terms of vectors and forces and tension. They are not yet used to thinking based on ideal situations and come up with a lot of, “But what about…?” questions involving complications that exist in real life but not when we get our supplies from the Ideal Physics Supply Room where the massless pulleys are right next to the sky hooks and behind the string that doesn’t stretch. Their observations are valid and based on their real life experiences. If a person hanging from two ropes pulls harder on one rope, that rope will have more tension in it. True thing. But having one rope longer than another changes nothing. This doesn’t make sense to them, because in their minds “longer rope” means the person is reaching up higher on one rope. I’ll have to think more about how to guide their application of past experiences to new physics ideas. The reading over the weekend is Chapter 3, Newton’s First Law, so we can do some fun stations and activities to play with inertia. My class is at 15, so five stations with three people at each station will be great. Just gotta get that sorted out over the weekend.

Physics Honors and AP Physics: In both advanced classes we’re still working on the same topics, just at different levels. We practiced interpreting position-time graphs using these examples:


Students told stories about mushrooms on rocket ships, dogs and cats, spies escaping, all kinds of great ideas came out. There were other practice graphs that showed motion of two objects, so we also got stories of car races and people chasing each other and so much other creativity. I’m hoping they get the idea that physics is all about telling stories of how things move and what they are doing and how we can describe it with all these different representations.

I also talked about how position-time and velocity-time graphs are related to each other, how the kinematics equations come straight out of the graphs, and started getting the AP class started on calculus and some very basic introduction into the idea that changing velocity breaks our CVPM model, so we’ll need to find another one that incorporates those ideas. Luckily the CVPM model is a special case of the CAPM model, so we’ll see how well those two things can be woven together. All of the students are happy to hear that I’m going to be making changes, and one student told me that he preferred my style and approach over other approaches he’s experienced. That’s a good feeling.

This weekend will be spent re-developing both AP and Honors, so I have a big task ahead of me. I’m super exhausted today, but tomorrow I don’t have to get up early for ANY REASON, so I can sleep in as long as I like. And then I will take all my resources, find a big table, and camp out until I have at least this next term planned out and all my classroom policies written up for both classes. Planning curriculum is honestly my comfort zone and something I enjoy, so it’ll be a fun day. I just wish I had like seven computer monitors to more easily swap between all the different documents I know I’ll be needing to look at.

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