Day 9: I’m a Pigeon, Watch me Spin

Tuesday, Sept 11

Accountability System: Ok. I think I figured out a way to incentivize them (AP and Honors students) to do their homework and me to get them feedback. Depending on how much of the class does their homework and when I get feedback returned, we can earn up to 3 points a week. Then as a class, they can spend points to get things like choosing their own lab partners, I bring snacks, we go on a field trip, whatever we figure out is something they want to work towards earning. It’s very Operant Conditioning, but I need that sometimes when the intrinsic motivation isn’t enough to overcome my ADHD/depression/etc. I am super motivated to do things for my kids. Sometimes my brain doesn’t cooperate, so maybe this will help. I know I’m a grown-ass adult who should be able to just do the things I need to do. Unfortunately I have a cascade of disabilities which make that super hard and nothing I have tried before has worked on this particular issue, so I’ll drop all the way back down to Skinnerism and be a dang pigeon in a box.

Physics: Started Chapter 4, which is speed, velocity, and acceleration. We watched a video about relative motion, as well as the first ten minutes of “Frames of Reference“. They asked a few questions about relative vs absolute motion, acceleration vs speed, and the other fairly regular questions, and that was it. Pretty chill class. I never had a problem getting stuff from or back to students in this class last year, so I am not implementing the accountability system in hopes I can keep up what worked last year.

Honors Physics: Phase Change! For real! We talked about warming and cooling processes, latent heat, and then dove into practice problems. I ended the class with a super challenge question that has water in an aluminum pail, ice is added, what is equilibrium temp and how much, if any, ice melts. SUPA DUPA TRICKY.

AP Physics: Lab day! This week’s little lab is an “unconventional measurements” lab where they get cups and a plate and a straw and some string and some beans and a little vial and some other stuff, and they are asked to measure some things like volume of the vial, length of the table, etc. They got pretty clever about their measuring.

The big lab is a reaction time lab with a focus on error analysis and plan/conduct investigations. Students measure their reaction time under three different triggers

  • visual. Grab the ruler when you see it drop.
  • Cue word at the end a list of other words of unknown length. If boat is the cue word, it might be a list of words like: blue, tree, frighten, jump, grandfather, boat.
  • Being given a word as a cue, and while grabbing the ruler you also have to respond with an associated word. This one is very challenging for them.

I found this lab online as a biology lab and made it more physicsy. I also asked them to add weight to the ruler and see how that affects things. I genuinely have no idea how this is going to turn out. If it’s just shenanigans I’ll make some changes for Friday.

Once they had done a bunch of reaction time tests, their job was to take that information and use it to design an effective way to measure the period of pendulums of different lengths with the least amount of error using a stopwatch. The goal here is understanding sources of error and how to mitigate those, not the mathematical relationship between length and period. It seemed like a good idea when I thought of it. We’ll see how rich the discussion is for it tomorrow and Monday.

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