Day 31: The Long Weekend Begins

Thursday, Oct 12

Today was the last day before a 5-day weekend (for the kids. I have to work Fri and Sat for parent conferences), so there was not a lot of focus happening.

Physics: We talked about the failed lab last from Tuesday and used the data from the other teacher’s class to talk about what we should have seen and worked through the calculations. It turned out the system had about 96% energy conservation, which is a lot more than I thought it would be. I asked them if the textbook talked about springs, and they said no, so I went ahead and talked about it, which they found SUPER DUPER INTERESTING. I guess because it was something extra and not in the reading? Who knows, but now my kids know about spring potential energy, but I didn’t talk any about simple machines, so I guess I’m going to have to pick that subject up on Wednesday.

Honors Physics: The pendulum! We went through anatomy of a pendulum and then they helped me find the period of a pendulum with a bunch of different variations, discovered that length is the only thing that mattered, and then tried to figure out the relationship between length and time. We took measurements for a bunch of different lengths, I had them graph it, make some predictions, test the predictions, etc. They figured out it wasn’t linear, which was basically all I was after, and then I told them what the relationship was. I feel like the pendulum is a great microcosm of physics, because you can talk about oscillations, kinematics, Newton’s laws, circular motion, conservation of energy, conservation of momentum with ballistic pendula, and probably a handful of other topics all using the exact same set-up, so I wanted to introduce the pendulum right now and use it as an application of the things we have already learned and an entry into the topics we haven’t learned yet. I mean, that’s pretty true for spring/mass oscillators, too, but those are a lot harder to fool with and change around than grabbing a hanging mass and holding a string.

AP Physics: Hopper Popper Lab! It leads to a lot of good conversations, and I didn’t want a huge ordeal of a lab right before the long weekend. I specifically have no homework due on Wednesday. I generally don’t believe in homework over breaks, because kids need some time to rest and relax and hang out, and they deserve a break after how hard they work all the time. The regular physics class has a couple sections of reading to do, but considering it’s maybe 3 pages, I don’t feel too bad about it.

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