Physics 11 – Students conducted a lab on Hooke’s Law today. They were prompted to model the relationship between an external force and how it affects a spring it is acting on. Data collection went pretty well and I strongly suggested that students use Excel to produce their graphs. Several groups opted to hand graph their data, which was very surprising to me. However, after pointing out a few things that they could do to improve their graphs, most of these groups eventually realized that re-doing it in Excel would be a lot of faster and probably more accurate.
Physics 11 – After a few classes of thinking and discussing concepts, it was time to do some concrete work on forces. The students examined the relationship between spring force and spring extension. They were tasked with designing their own test procedure, gathering data, and graphing it to come up with a model for springs. Several groups didn’t measure spring extension but measured the total length of the spring. While they could have subtracted the initial length, they didn’t. This is the problem with verbal instructions – there will always be students that miss out on details. From their perspective, there would be no obvious reason why they want to use extension data rather than total length.
I haven’t gone over their labs yet. My general plan is to give feedback to each student, including a checklist of things to look for such as: titles and headings, data table and observations, repeatable and understandable procedure, graphs and data analysis, and a decent conclusion and discussion. They already have a report format sheet and I’ll hand out an exemplar for this lab. The next time they hand in a lab report, they can be graded against a similar checklist and there will be no questions about expectations.