Thursday, April 5
I’m finally feeling like a reasonable human again. Voice works 80% of the time with a few cracks here and there. I’m present enough mentally to make plans and keep up with what’s happening around me instead of desperately trying to get through each moment and hoping the next is bearable. I even ate lunch today! Real lunch and not just a protein bar! There were vegetables and everything.
Physics: This is the first time I have taught circuits anything but 100% lab based in five years. I don’t like it. There just isn’t enough time for them to really get their hands on things. There are two labs, yes, and it is easier for the students to just read a thing off an analog meter rather than use a digital multimeter, but I’m unconvinced it shows understanding of circuits vs being able to identify one number as larger than another number. No one particularly enjoyed today’s class, even me. I tried really hard to make it exciting and talk about real-life situations and breakers/fuses and houses burning down and the conceptual difference between series and parallel. There was nowhere near the engagement and interest I see when they’re building lots of circuits and measuring lots of things. Some kids were a bit in to it, but since today’s class is at 8am, most of them were bleary eyed and just ready for this week to be over.
Honors Physics: The students revisited the induction stations and were asked to write a couple sentences about each one, what they saw, and how it relates to the science we have learned. That took most of class. Next was a very quick discussion of how motors generators work so we can build a motor tomorrow and then begin moving into a discussion of power plants.
AP Physics: The students did the station labs and were asked to write a similar thing to what I asked of honors. The AP kids did a lot better this time with an exploration-based lab experience, especially since they had a ton of theoretical knowledge to connect to real life. I remember in my AP E&M course, I “learned” all the things and scored a 5 on the AP, but I never got to see any of it happening in real life and didn’t actually understand how the things were connected. There’s a discussion to be had as to whether getting a lot of 5s justifies the teaching methods, but thankfully my current school cares way more about student learning than artificial measures of garbage meaninglessness.
Anyway, here are the stations. Yes, they are hilariously janky and home-made. They get the job done, so I haven’t put forth the effort yet to make better versions. It’s on the list, along with thousands of other things. This first one is a solenoid wrapped around a tiny paint can hooked up to a galvanometer. One of the strongest magnets we have is stuck to a pipe for waving around type behaviors.
Station 2: A loop of mag wire and a horn magnet. This is my personal horn magnet (yes, I have one of those). Students are supposed to send current through the loop and compare how it interacts with the magnet.
Station 3: Wrapping a compass in a bunch of wire. Another relic of my very early career at my very first school where I was from 2008-2010. I made do with what I had. I told the students to fool around with turning the compass into a motor using the current to make it spin the way they wanted.
Station 4: The electromagnet. The students check out the nail by itself, the coil by itself with and without current, and then the coil with the nail in it. They’re using the compass to test things and seeing how many brads they can pick up.
These are extraordinarily simple induction/electromagnetism demos, but the students love the hell out of them. I really do want to fancy them up some, but, again, The List Is Long.