Physics 11 – Today I was away from class again so a TOC came in to cover. The main task for the day was for the physics students to learn how to calculate kinetic and gravitational energy.
Ideally I would like students to work through this by doing two experiments, having already learned that Es = 1/2 k x^2
- launch a spring loaded cart using different springs and measure the speed that results
- launch a spring loaded cart up a ramp using different springs and see how high it goes
Both of these activities really require a decent cart with spring (ie little friction) and a motion sensor for the speed. Especially for task #1 we would need a decent computer for quickly graphing the data and manipulating the graphs.
This kind of activity would take at least two classes and probably three. The question I wonder is whether it’s worth it. Research says yes but it’s also about value systems. We can spend a lot of time going deep on topics and using good process skills, or we can move through the topics quickly and maybe work on some interesting and creative (engineering) projects.