Day 153: Bulb Boy and Polarity Shift

Advanced Physics:

My three sections of physics were pretty small today thank to the AP Calc test.  About half of each class was missing.  Today was spent working through the circuits in an activity I call Bulb Boy.  The activity consists of 5 different circuits (well 6 if you count the single bulb, single cell, single wire ask I wrote about yesterday).  Here are the guts of the handout.  Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 7.35.00 PM


You’ll notice I do not use the terms series and parallel.  Basically, there are two reasons.  First of all, if I use those terms, I have to define them first, RATHER than letting the activity and post-activity discussion define them (recall concept first, then name).  I also find that just because some students know the names of the terms does not mean they understand them or can use the equipment to physically set them up.

Here are just a few shots of some of the set-ups:

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The post-activity discussion for this is really rich.  More on that tomorrow.

General Physics:

We went through the 7 Charge Questions they were asked to explore last night.  I’ve written about them before here.  This group also had an opportunity to try the Harry Potter Demo.  With this group, we do not focus too much on each the details of the charge, but more on the interactions and how the force(s) are involved.  Because we are a bit short of time (aren’t we all), we are giving a differentiated authentic assessment (yep, a mouthful).  We decided to use the game ‘Polarity Shift’ from The Universe and More website.  There are some pretty nice teacher materials provided at the website that we obtained the questions from.  We made use of them and provided a chance for the students to decide how much they wanted to work for. Here is a sample of the questions and how it was differentiated.

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SIDEBAR: The Universe and More website is a goldmine of computer based learning experiences. We also use the Graphing Game on occasion. I really encourage you to visit the site, it would be a wise investment of your time.

Day 152: No Clever Title today

Today was a strange and tough start to the week.  A tragedy occurred last night evening (around 7:30PM) at a very popular outdoor site in our area. I’m thinking about what has come to be known as the Trestle Trail Bridge Shooting. I will not go into the details, but will mention that four people were killed and a fifth is in critical condition. While the family affected did not attend our schools, the children did attend a parochial school in our city and the Trestle Trail connects our community and it’s neighbor.  Nearly everyone in the community knows the area and has been there.  We did not talk about it in my classes, but it was there in many minds including mine.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the families involved.

Advanced Physics:

We started the class by discussing how to use an analogue (panel) meter t measure electrical potential difference (or voltage). We just measured the potential difference across individual cells, then the cells ‘end-to-end’, two cells ‘side-by-side’, and finally in a cell holder (it was interesting to watch the students struggle to figure out how to use only two cells in the holder and to get he maximum potential difference).  Here are a few photos:

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If you look closely at the meter, you will see I have added a label, electrical potential difference, in J/C, to remind the student exactly what the ‘voltage’ and volt mean.

From there we built the simplest circuit… one cell, one wire, and one bulb.  I ask  hem to get it to light two different ways and that simply switching the cell ends does not count.  This activity is one of the more famous ‘electrical tasks’, even discussed in the documentary Minds Of Our Own.  It is interesting to me that several of our engineering and manufacturing academy students will say almost immediately that it cannot be done.. two wire need to be used, but the other students will just dig in and give it a try.  I like this task because it introduces circuits and how a simple bulb is wired, that the bulb does not ‘care which direction the charge moves through it.  Tomorrow more circuits, with electrical potential difference readings taken while the circuit is functioning.

General Physics:

We discussed the energy test they took on Friday and then had a brief introduction to the next unit, electrical concepts here too.  They were sent home with the task of answering the 7 Charge questions.