Day 69: All The Classics

Wednesday, Jan 10

Physics: We begin thermo! It’s one of my favorites. They did a reading last night about heat vs temperature, and then we did the basic calorimetry lab today in class (two coffee cups, 100g mass, hot water, thermometer). At first I wasn’t sure why we were doing a lab that involved topics from something we hadn’t talked about yet, but I talked to my colleague about it and he said he’s found that this gives the students something to hang their knowledge on. Ok, I get that. This is why I wanted to just go through business as usual this year and get a feeling for how their curriculum is planned, so I could make sense of things that confused me at first. I think I might approach things considerably different next year with more inquiry with mixing different amounts of water at different temperatures so students can get an intuitive feel for how heat is distributed when objects reach thermal equilibrium, but good ol’ coffee cup calorimetry is certainly a classic way to do things.

Honors Physics: We had our first presentation today on refraction, and it went quite well. They were a little hand-wavey when it came to lens diagrams (which is fine; I can review that no problem), but had some cool activities with students playing with different combinations  of lenses and looking at things around the room. I had a lot of fun fooling with the lenses, myself, and they had some good conceptual questions for practice at the end. Tomorrow, reflection!

AP Physics: Hoo, wow, did the second class go more smoothly than the first class. I’m getting less sketchball on Gauss’s Law with every class, but it’s still a process. The first class I was kinda disorganized and jumped around too much, but in the second class I smoothed it out into a coherent narrative of what we were learning and why and how it all moved together. We went from a rod of length L (with a side step to an infinite rod), bent that rod into a hoop, nested a bunch of hoops to make a disk, then sent the hoops to infinity to get an infinite plane, and THEN took two infinite planes and put them a distance d apart with equal and opposite charge to develop a capacitor and understand why E is constant inside a capacitor and 0 outside (ideally). It’s almost like these things flow together.

Then I moved over to Gauss’s Law. We started with a basic idea of flux and skipped the 16 pages of derivation in the textbook to get to the end result and then use that to show some other cool stuff and convince them things I asked them to accept by fiat last week are both actually true and hilariously easy to prove once we have this in our toolbox. Soon begins nested spheres and cylinders! Wooo! Hoping to be done with electrostatics completely by the end of next week or sooner so we can move on to precious, precious circuits. Still on track for that plan. *fingers crossed*

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