Today is it – the last day of the semester. Finals are over and I’m looking forward to a break for a couple of weeks. It won’t be too much of a break I have a decent amount of grading to do and a lot of preparation to do for next semester. Regardless, it will be a quieter time spent with family.
My section of Honors Physics had their final exam today. I used some of that time to administer the FCI post-test. Since this is the first year that we have fully implemented Modeling Instruction in Honors Physics, I’m curious as to what our gains will be. Mine for this year weren’t better than my single section last year, but my sample size is too small for any conclusions to be made. I will compile the data across all sections from last year and this year and compare.
I had an easy day today as I had class for only one of the three testing periods. As has become tradition, I gave bags of cheese and/or caramel popcorn for Naper Nuts and Sweets to the physical science teachers. Something nice to snack on while proctoring exams!
Thanks to feedback from @arundquist and @wslaton, the student trying to determine the moment of inertia for his color guard rifle was able to do so by creating a physical pendulum and using the parallel axis theorem. This is an awesome example of how colleagues on Twitter can help each other’s students. I’ll share more capstones later, but here is the Rifle Toss Capstone (the equations aren’t displaying properly, but there is a PDF at the end).
Rather than a typical lab practicum like we do for most units, we did an engineering design lab instead. Casey Rutherford shared a great lab last year where students designed, built, tested, redesigned, and rebuilt bumpers to minimize the force experienced when a cart crashes into a barrier at the end of an elevated track. Students were very engaged in the lab and quite the competitive atmosphere among groups developed. Here is the design that performed the best:
Here is an example measurement (red is without the bumper; blue, with):
No classes today but worth a post since we held the final Science under the Sea event this evening in the pool. Eight groups of junior high students (42 in all) and their high school mentors were joined by their parents for the demonstration of their underwater remote operated vehicles (ROVs). It was a fantastic turnout and a wonderful cumulating event for the students.
I’m helping to lead a Technology Integration Team at my school this year. As I’ve mentioned before, we don’t need a technology integration team, we need an instructional best practices team. I’m pleased that the direction of our team has completely shifted away from technology and is now squarely focused on instruction.
This afternoon we discussed at length what is required to change the culture of our school to make the transformation to inquiry-based learning. What are the challenges? And, critical to answer first, does this need to happen? Should we bother to try and do this?
When we meet again in January, we will each share our thoughts on the above questions. I have a lot of thinking to do and would appreciate any ideas you have as well.
I feel fortunate to work at a school with colleagues who feel passionately about instruction and tackling these large issues and administrators who promote this vision and support these efforts.