Day 62: Naked Eurekas Tomorrow

Thursday, Dec 14

Physics: Starting liquids! We talked a bit about pressure and buoyancy, and then students did a basic “confirm Archimedes’ principle” lab where they measured the net force on an object outside and inside the water. I meant to tell them all about Archimedes’ Naked Eurekas (incidentally, that’s the name of my new prog rock band), but that will have to wait for tomorrow when we’ll also do penny boats because hahahahahaha doing significant academic content on the last day before winter break. You’re hilarious.

Honors Physics: Interference continues to break the students’ brains, although I think I did repair the damage from yesterday about standing waves. They’re pretty good with constructive and destructive interference now, so I then talked about double slits and interference fringes from the diffraction of waves, which they were able to understand with only a few mental fuses blowing. I was feeling brave and like REALLY breaking some brains, so we talked about Young’s Double Slit experiment and how light behaves differently depending on where you have an observer to see which slit the photon “goes through”, and all the fuses in the room promptly exploded. It was fun to watch. They kept asking me, “What if…?” questions, and unfortunately I am not able to answer questions about what would happen if quantum mechanics was different. I’m barely able to answer questions about what would happen based on the quantum mechanics I know, so “what if they behaved this way” is not a question I can address. We watched a few videos and some animations, they still HATE IT, but that’s ok. Hating new physics ideas is the first step to loving them. It’s not caring that is troublesome.

AP Physics: Potential! We’ve now covered the four basics of electrostatics, which I wanted in their brains before break. When we review on return it will make a lot more sense after two weeks of processing. We did a few AP B FR questions to practice, and they thought they were hilariously easy. Great! That’s what I want! Then we did an AP C FR question, and they were abruptly brought back down to Earth. Yeah. AP C requires a much more thorough knowledge and ability. Tomorrow we’re going to talk about methods of charging and play with balloons and charge plastic rods with plastic bags and stuff. Light, easy stuff that is important to know and fun to play with, so pre-break brains can get some new info through playing and not doing any calculus.

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