Day 52: Light, Space, and Murder

Thursday, Nov 30

Physics: Talked more about satellites and orbital velocity and elliptical orbits and energy. Teased the idea of escape velocity for us to do next time. The other physics teacher will be their sub tomorrow, so he’ll do his usual song and dance with them that he does with his own classes. We’ll debrief on Monday for sure.

Honors Physics: Tell me everything you know about light.  And they did. They gave me a big, big list of all kinds of things about light, and I wrote down everything they mentioned. Once we had a good list going, I had them figure out how to categorize the different things into groups that they had to choose. We ended up with three broad categories and two kinda silly categories, and then we talked about in what order we should talk about these ideas. It’s amazing how easy it is for students to design their own curriculum. Almost none of this came from me, which was really great. They thought the first thing we should talk about was sources of light, so I gave a brief review of the Bohr Model and emission again because there were still some blank looks and shaking heads even when I gave basically the same review yesterday before we looked at glowing things. No worries! I’ll tell this story as many times as it takes. Then we talked very, very briefly about another source of light, blackbody radiation, which they will do tomorrow with the PhET sim.

I’m going to a science open house at the Naval Postgraduate School in the afternoon, so they will have a sub and answer questions using the simulation which we can debrief on Monday and talk through any confusion. I’m really, really enjoying this process of helping them refine their knowledge and find patterns and relationships in things they already know while adding in some new stuff to fill gaps and round out the bigger ideas. Good grief I love this job.

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Yes, “murder” is listed under light, because a student was asking if light could kill someone, so I wrote it down as a use of light.

AP Physics: First we did the released AP FR problems from 2012Q3 and 2014Q2 so there was some more practice with rolling and sliding and circular motion and rotation and all the things that I wanted them to get at least one more shot at before we moved on. They were a lot more confident after the practice, and since today was a double period, they could get that practice AND we could move on to talking about SHM. One class started with talking about the pendulum and tomorrow will move on to learning about springs. The other class I won’t see tomorrow because of a local science event, so I started springs with them and will have them do some activities tomorrow with a pendulum while I’m gone.

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