Day 87: FCI Gains

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.

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Day 85: Capstones Almost Done

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).


  ##expdesign ##setbacks  

Day 84: Momentum Engineering Lab

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):



Day 82: Should We Change the Culture of Instruction?

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.