Day 55: Linking Mechanics to E&M

Tuesday, Dec 5

Physics: Time dilation and E=mc^2. I had to read/watch multiple things to get a handle on it, so I figured it would be best for the kids to hear it in a few different ways, so we watched a handful of short youtube videos before I gave them an open notes, open classmates quiz on the material in an attempt to get even more discussion going. There’s an exam scheduled for Friday, but most of it is focused on orbiting satellites and such much more than the ideas of relativity.

Honors Physics: Yesterday we finished our discussion of light sources (emission and blackbody radiation), so today I had them first develop a rubric for what they thought would be important in order to assess their understanding of those two basic ideas and gave them effectively unlimited options when it comes to choosing how to have their understanding assessed. Projects so far include a rap music video, a museum exhibit, and a bunch of videos/presentations. I effectively pushed all of the cognitive load for this entire assessment on to them. We’ll see how this goes. Tomorrow we start properties of light.

AP Physics: As promised yesterday, we went through and talked about combinations of springs. Even though there aren’t a huge number of questions of that type on the AP, it’s a really great introduction to the ideas of series and parallel and why the equivalent k’s make physical sense that I hope to leverage when we get to resistors and capacitors. After finishing that, we began Universal Gravitation. The “Weighing the Earth” experiment is one of my favorites in its elegance and simplicity. I don’t know that they appreciated it quite as much as I do, but at least they’ve heard of it now. We ended with finding g for Earth, Moon, and Jupiter and talked about how even though Jupiter is 300x more massive than the Earth, it has less than 3x g at its surface, which leads into the inverse square relationship tomorrow. I’m super excited about this, because ending Mechanics on gravity segues beautifully into electrostatics. We’ll probably start that next week, which is even more exciting, because I frickin’ love electricity.