This year we are trying a new graphical representation for the momentum transfer model: IFF charts. Kelly O’Shea has described them in detail on her blog. Students have readily adopted them and appreciate the similarity between LOL diagrams and these IFF charts. I have observed that students are much less likely to make mistakes regarding the direction (and signs) of velocity when using the IFF charts.
I love this time of year in AP Physics B. Students have a week of in-class time to work on their capstones. They have already submitted proposals and I’ve talked to students to make sure their capstone isn’t over ambitious for the time we have or is too simplistic. One student is analyzing the motion of a color guard rifle tossed in the air. He is currently trying to empirically determine the moment of inertia of the rifle. Any suggestions on how to do so? His current plan is to spin the rife on a lab stand and measure the impulse he imparts and the rotational velocity and then calculate the moment.
(The cameras in the background are car backup cameras encased in epoxy to make them waterproof for use in the underwater ROV project.)
Two other teachers and I had the opportunity to lead our school’s second-year teacher (at our school) cohort this afternoon. We led them through an 21st century skills and inquiry-based instruction activity. They had some fantastic ideas. It is wonderful that these teachers, from a wide variety of disciplines, will continue to meet together through their first four years at our school. They have such an opportunity to learn from each other.
Today was the first meeting of the district-wide science curriculum team. Over the next several years, we will restructure science education in our district. We are starting 6-12 but will bring in EC-5 in a year or so. We are focused on the Next Generation Science Standards. This first meeting we started to get to know each other and discussed the conceptual shifts, cross-cutting concepts, and science and engineering practices. We have a ton of work ahead of us, but this is a rare opportunity to dramatically affect science education in our district. Personally, I found it very insightful to listen to junior high teachers since I’ve almost never talked to any of them about science education.
Today I missed class to attend the annual AP Science Symposium posted by Hinsdale Central High School. I’ve attended the symposium for several years and always look forward to it. The day is mostly unstructured and provides an opportunity for AP science teachers to discuss topics of interest. This year, we physics teachers focused primarily on the new AP Physics 1/2 courses and a bit about Next Generation Science Standards. Lots of discussion about Modeling Instruction (especially for this crowd). I snapped a photo about why the College Board is revising so many AP science courses and I may share it on Monday when we start discussing NGSS.
Every year I feel that I share something that will help other teachers, and I leave with something new that they have shared with me. That’s the best kind of professional development.
Today was the final of three days featuring computing opportunities at my school. It was somewhat more draining than the other computing teacher and I expected, but it was worth it as we definitely increased the visibility of what students do in the computing classes. We also had a lot of help from existing and former students willing to demo their programs. Today’s theme was computing and games. We had student playing a variety of games: arcade style in Python, multi-level challenge in Scratch, super tic-tac-toe in Java, and networked chess in Java:
Due to availability of the small cafeteria, we opted to host our Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week activities a week early. Yesterday’s activities focused on computing and robotics. Today’s activities highlighted computing and art. We demoed and displayed student programs such as media computation collages and fractal trees. We also had iPads available for students to try the Hour of Code activities.