Day 162: Quantum Mechanics Guest Lecturer

Today, one of my former students, who is a physics major at Cornell University, returned to my classroom to be a guest lecturer on quantum mechanics. Her talk was fantastic for several reasons. The level of the lecture was appropriate because, as an alumni, she knew what my students have already learned. She explained concepts really clearly without relying on mathematics well beyond my students, yet still alluded to the mathematical models so students appreciate them. As a physics major crushing her classes and doing really interesting research, she is an inspiration role model for my students. Thanks Cari!



Day 156-161: Physics for the 21st Century

I had an extended absence from school. As a result, I’m grouping the days I was gone into chunks to at least capture the time period. These shouldn’t be considered model lessons, but they worked out okay.

After the AP exam, we do a particle physics and cosmology unit. We already started the particle physics unit in preparation for the Particle Physics Masterclass at Fermilab.

The day after the AP exam, students watched the Nova’s The Big Bang Machine. It is a great overview of particle physics and sets the stage for future activities and topics we will study.

Now done with the AP exam, students started a self-paced exploration of modern physics: Physics for the 21st Century. The online resources are excellent and seem to align well with the readiness of the students. They will start with unit 1 and continue through the units at their own pace for the week.

  ##modern ##cosmology ##particlephysics  

Days 151 – 154: AP Physics 2 Exam Review

I had an extended absence from school. As a result, I’m grouping the days I was gone into chunks to at least capture the time period. The next two weeks shouldn’t be considered model lessons, but they worked out okay.

On the first day, I gave students sample free response question #3 from the Course and Exam Description document since they needed more practice with short response questions.

The next three days, students work in pairs at their own pace. First they tackled the sample multiple choice questions from the Course and Exam Description document. Discussing each answer with their partner as they progressed and discussing with others pairs when questions remained.

After completing the multiple choice, pairs reviewed a set of review notes that I prepared based on gaps I identified based on the results of the practice AP exam and questions that were asked in class. One topic about which students had questions was entropy. I love Knight’s College Physics text that we are using this year. However, I have found the Etkina’s College Physics text has a better section on entropy, microstates, and macrostates. So, I had students read that section as a supplement.

  ##ap &nsbp;

Days 148-150: AP Physics 2 Exam Review

Over these three days, students worked in pairs to analyze their performance AP Physics 2 practice exam. On the first day, students worked with a partner to review the multiple choice questions that they missed and read through the annotated solutions for the practice exam. I captured any question that a pair had to discuss with the entire class later.

On the second day, students continued to review their performance on the multiple choice portion of the exam. We also discussed the most frequently missed multiple choice questions as a class.

On the third day, we shifted to the free response portion of the exam. I scored it very strictly, and scores were lower than I expected. We’ll see how the practice exam compares to the actual AP Physics 2 exam in a few days. We focused primarily on the first two free response questions, and specifically on how the short answer and paragraph-length responses need to written carefully to ensure that the question asked is being answered.


Day 147: AP Physics 2 Final/Practice Exam

Today was not a normal day of school as there was PARCC testing for freshmen. AP students were strongly encouraged to attend a practice exam or review session in the morning and another in the afternoon. It wasn’t a perfect system since many students have more than two AP courses and had to choose. However, it was great to have a vast majority of my students for a three-hour block of time in which to administer the AP Physics 2 practice exam, which also counts as their final exam.

It will be a very busy couple of days to score all of the exams, especially since I do the same thing in AP Computer Science. However, students in previous years have shared how useful it was to take a full-length exam, have it scored, and use it to direct their review efforts over the next week.


Day 146: AP Physics 2 Exam Structure

Today, I shared with the AP Physics 2 students the structure of the AP Physics 2 exam and the practice exam that they will take on Monday. This practice exam counts as their final exam for the course. This provides sufficient motivation for students to take it seriously and, therefore, it serves as a great indication of where they should focus their efforts for the next week and a half to prepare for the actual AP Physics 2 exam. It was harder than usual to set expectations for the exam since I’m not sure exactly what to expect with the new course. Regardless, I feel that the adjustments that I made this year to better align with the focus of the new course have worked well, and I expect students will be well prepared. I am anxious to see how they do on the practice exam on Monday!