Day 118: Got Their Motors Running

Friday, April 6

The cold has moved from my throat (yay being able to talk!) to my sinuses (boooooooo!), but at least I’m feeling even a little bit better than yesterday. My friend Sofia and I are presenting a workshop tonight at Silicon Valley Comic Con on “Teaching Science Through Comics”. We’ve spent weeks working on it, and a lot of time on the phone this week perfecting it, and I think it’s going to be pretty dang awesome. It also spurred me to get a haircut instead of showing up looking like an ill-groomed shaggy dog.

Physics: Review questions! The exam on circuits is on Monday, so today we are reviewing all the ideas. It’s so weird to teach it all theoretically and in slightly more than one week. We started circuits last Wednesday and didn’t have class on Friday, so that’s six classes. We’ve done two full chapters in those six classes. I want to play some more!

Honors Physics: Making motors! I had to excavate push pins from my home office supplies, but with those, paper clips, mag wire, a battery, a magnet, and some cardboard, these kids were asked to rig something up. We talked about the basics yesterday. Today they had to make it happen. Some of them started finding things around the room to try different things. I love it when I wind them up (ha, motor jokes) and let them go and get to watch them try to put their knowledge of physics to use. I had to give out a few hints, like “make sure your coil can turn on a reasonably balanced axel” which not a single one of them thought about before I said anything. A few also argued that their spins just fine the way it is. It’s cool. I’m not going to tell you how to do it. Just test it and see!

AP Physics: Midterm! I gave them 15 multiple choice and 1 free response to do in 45 minutes. This is far less than half an actual AP exam, and about half the class didn’t finish in 45 minutes, but we still have time to review and get them sped up. There’s more than a month of class left since the AP is on May 14. However well or not well they do today, it’s fine. They seem to have a hard time recognizing that they have to learn things until they do poorly on an exam, anyway, so I hope this lights a fire under one or two of them.

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