Day 8 – Buggy Whiteboarding

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Physics 11 – Today was the students’ first shot at whiteboarding models that they’ve developed.  The photo above is interesting because during their presentation, this group realized that the direction on their graph was wrong.

The group below has a valuable statement on possible errors in data:


And the group below were the only ones that got to point of getting a mathematical model of the buggy motion. They had some good things to say with their presentation, more than what is shown here.



Day 4 – CV Buggies


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Physics 11 – The day started with a ball drop activity before we moved on to using constant velocity buggies* to analyze motion and come up with a model for constant velocity.  To reinforce how “almost meaningless” the physics in Science 10 is (they do kinematics in science 10), most students perform this task as if they’ve never studied motion before.  This suits me fine, because we get to start from scratch with model building.

I got the “it depends” idea from Brian Frank and his excellent blog:

I also reviewed how to get an equation of a line using the slope-intercept form. I anticipate many battles over the next few weeks as kids are weened off of x and y, and start to view symbols as having a meaning and not just a placeholder for something that is solved for.

* My choice was either to use $220 of my $250 classroom budget for the year and buy the buggies through the school and their supplier, or spend $100 of my own money and order the buggies myself (from the USA for less than 1/2 the price than the rip-off educational science stores).  I bought them myself.  That’s what we have to do in BC.

Day 22: Quiz Day

My physics 11 students had their 2nd quiz today, and then they continued along with their constant acceleration labs. There’s not a lot to report, quizzing still seems to take up a lot of class time. I guess that’s just the way things go. I could pressure the students to work faster but that’s not really the point. They’re just consolidating their learning and doing everything correct AND fast doesn’t seem to be the best expectation. That’s all I have for Day 22…

Day 18: Graphing Solutions


Near the end of class in physics, I challenged my students to solve a word problem where a faster runner catches a slower runner,  when the slower runner starts sooner.

Most groups approached the correct answer (they were bit rushed), but not using the method I anticipated. As shown above, most graphs were drawn incorrectly. Well, the graph leads to the correct answer, but it doesn’t represent what the runners are doing. The graph shows that one runner starts ahead of the other and they both start at the same time. Strictly speaking, the graph is wrong if the independent variable represents a clock reading.

In any event, the general problem solving showed that many kids have transferred their knowledge from qualitative understandings to quantitative analysis.