Well, I’ve jumped onto the 180 bandwagon. I’m a bit late starting, but starting nonetheless. The first day is always a split day with the freshmen in for the morning, then the rest of the student body joining in the afternoon. This means we see our classes for only 20 minutes. What can you do in 20 minutes, well, here is what I did:
1. Took attendance using a seating chart, but not really the typical seating chart. I learned this technique from one of my mentors, an incredible woman named Patricia Westphal. For each of my classes, I export student demographic data from Infinite Campus into an Excell spreadsheet. Then I can sort the data according to any of the demographics. I explain to the students that physics is about gathering data and solving challenges and this is the first one. Once they correctly figure out the pattern, present the data gathered in some type of diagram with an explanation, they can choose their own seats. it’s worked on when there are a few spare minutes, but I never give them in-class time to work on it.
2. Showed them the syllabus, my electronic version. Here is the link to the Advanced Physics e-syllabus
and this is the General Physics link:
The students were also given a paper copy to read more thoroughly.
3. With the remaining few minutes we levitated Whoppers Malted Milk Balls, described in the Little Gems Column of the September 2005 issue of The Physics Teacher. I switched from the peanut M&M’s used in the column to Whoopers because of possible nut allergies and because they have less mass so the students find it easier to leviate. This year a colleague added a small piece of a straw to make it even easier.