Physics 11 – I was introduced to energy bar charts through the physics modeling program, and it is one of the best things that I’ve introduced to my students. So much of the conceptual material for energy in physics 11 is covered with these bar graphs. All that is missing is the algebra and calculations.
The students were really engaged while working through practice questions on bar charts. I think this work really hits the sweet spot for the Zone of Proximal Development for the majority of students. The charts are new, thought-provoking and manageable.
I have been following the modeling curriculum fairly closely until now. I’m not equipped to do any experiments with energy. Rather, I’ll be use direct instruction that that the area under the curve of a Force-Displacement graph is energy. This will lead into the concept of working, and the formulas for gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy.
Physics 11 – Energy has been introduced in physics 11. So far the students are focusing on the idea of energy storage systems as opposed to something “having energy.” I used a couple of quotes from Richard Feynman to stress that we have a really hard time describing exactly what energy is, but we are not bad at saying where energy is stored.
It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge what energy is.
Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, “But how can it be like that?” because you will get “down the drain,” into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.
The students were really engaged during this activity and the students demonstrated good critical thinking. Without detailing it, this work touches on both the First Law of Thermodynamics (the total amount of energy doesn’t change) and the Second Law of Thermodynamics (Dissipated energy never goes down).