Day 43: Coulomb’s Law Computational Model Continued

Today, AP Physics 2 students continued to develop their computational model of a the electric force on one or more point charges due to one of more charged objects. Some developed simple harmonic oscillators; others, helixes; others, eccentric orbits. Everyone got at least a basic version of the computational model working. Brandon, Tiffany, and Chris made some of my favorites:

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  ##electrostatics ##representations ##tech ##glowscript  

Day 42: Coulomb’s Law Computational Model

Today, AP Physics 2 students started developing their a computational model for Coulomb’s Law. Unlike some of their previous computational models in GlowScript, I provided a minimal framework this time. The goal of students developing their own computational model for a free point charge in the presence of a fixed charged object was threefold: 1) students would develop a deeper understanding of Coulomb’s Law; 2) this model would serve as a bridge to understanding electric fields; 3) this model provides an opportunity to model a dynamics problem using vector math. In order to work towards this third goal, I introduced the concept of a unit vector and the functions to normalize a vector and returns its magnitude.

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  ##electrostatics ##representations ##tech ##glowscript  

Day 41: Electron Theory Review

Today AP Physics 2 started the Electrostatics unit. The first topic was electron theory, which is review of last year’s class for all students (regardless of which class they took last year). Rather than a review lecture which would have little engagement, I finally had the idea to leverage peer instruction in this context. I presented a few notes on electron theory, emphasized the theme of explaining macroscopic phenomena from an atomic perspective, and then we spent the rest of class discussing conceptual questions via peer instruction. Students were much more engaged and I had much greater confidence in what they did and didn’t retain from last year.


  ##electrostatics ##peerinstruction  

Day 40: Thermodynamics Exam

Today AP Physics 2 concluded the thermodynamics unit with an exam. I didn’t bother to take a photo. Instead, I’ll share a photo from my 8th hour AP Computer Science class. They were having trouble focusing minutes before the bell and also discovered there were buttons on the monitors with which they could play.


Nice rainbow!


Day 39: Practice

I felt that the AP Physics 2 student needed one more day practicing solving problems before the thermodynamics exam. I supplied a couple of practice problems and students worked together in small groups to solve them. They were very engaged. At the end of class, students were definitive that the practice was very helpful. We’ll see how tomorrow’s exam goes….



Day 38: Peer Instruction Conceptual Review

Today in AP Physics 2, we spent the entire period discussing conceptual questions via peer review. The past couple of times I felt that we didn’t explore that many questions after we finished the quiz. So, today we had all of class and went back and discussed some of those questions we didn’t have time for previously. My favorite was this Next-Time Question by Hewitt that highlights the difference between temperature and thermal energy.

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I had students type their answer as a couple of sentences into InfuseLearning. It was helpful to share various answers as examples and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.

  ##thermo ##peerinstruction  

Day 37: Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Today in AP Physics 2, we discussed the Second Law of Thermodynamics from the perspective of entropy as a measure of the probability that a certain state will occur. Groups finished their analysis of their data from yesterday’s activity. I then shared the analysis of the data aggregated across all of the groups. It dramatically illustrated how quickly the entropy of the system increases and how it does not decrease with a sufficiently large sample size.

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