T-31 Days: How Does Time Accelerate?

Tuesday, April 30

How is everything going so fast and so slow? I have a month left to write four grad school papers that I thought I’d have two months to do, but then April disappeared. And then my paper disappeared. Hours of work just… gone. So, I did it again, and now I have two copies of it that I’ve been saving back and forth obsessively. I usually do obsessive saving anyway, but of course the one time I don’t

Physics: Felt like a pretty good day today. We’re rushing, no doubt, but today felt good and the kids seemed to follow the material of the atomic nucleus, why neutrons matter, stability vs instability, and conservation of mass. Tomorrow is supposed to be the geiger counter lab where they listen to a counter pop, but I think I’m going to do that as a demo and then have them do a half-life activity. The usual things are pennies, m&ms, puzzle pieces, anything that has two sides. One side is “stable” after a throw and is put to the side. The “unstable” ones are thrown again until they’re all “stable”. I want to find a way to make that more interesting.

So, I asked Twitter. One awesome suggestion was that instead of taking out the stable ones, turn them into another object (like they’re now new types of atoms). She said she uses beans and aluminum shot, and then gives groups a “sample” for them to use to find the age. That’s super cool! A thing I’m trying to think through is giving students an idea of different half-lives using multi-sided dice. I made a spreadsheet showing the graphs of different decay rates and different numbers of trials, which brought back many years old spreadsheet skills from when I first graduated college, so that’s kinda neat. I think the pennies-to-beads or similar plus Jenn’s samples is about right for the lab tomorrow. The more complex dice bit can wait until later.

Honors Physics: Still doing circular motion. Today I did the rare “hand out a big packet of problems” teaching technique, but we went through it together with the thinking being “have I seen this type of question before?” and looking at whether they are asking something new or something they’ve seen before. That’s super hard for students to do sometimes, because swinging a hammer in a circle is totally different from driving around a curve in your car, right? NOPE! Ha ha! It’s the same physics! Wooooo! I focused on analyzing the structure of the problems and how the relationships we know (F = ma, a_c = v^2/R, v =d/t) can all be combined in a number of ways. I’ve done this sort of thing before, but never this explicitly and stopping to have them think about WHY we were doing this and what is helpful about it. We ended with vertical circles and the max/min ideas in a very qualitative manner, so I’m hoping these ideas will make sense. Tomorrow is conical pendula. heh heh heh heh

AP Physics: MC final exam for E&M!

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