Friday, June 28, 2013

Cool Students' Physix Projects

It has been a tradition of our Physix class to end the year with a major project that involves the students selecting one of three possible projects to complete.

Catapult Project: This involves the students building a catapult that meets specific criteria and tosses a medium egg as far as possible and over a one-meter high wall.

Instrument Project: The students who chose this project would build an instrument that meets certain criteria such as craftsmanship, variety of tone generation, etc. Below are some of this year's cool productions.

The ends are pennies!

Believe it or not, this is an organ (see the picture below). 

The organ does work well! :-)

Cigar Box Guitar 1

Percussion Instrument 1

Cigar Box Guitar 2


Percussion Instrument 2

PhysArt Project: This project entails the students to select any art area of their choice and put together and art piece that connect the arts with Physix. Below is a sample of such cool PhysArt projects from this year's collection.

PhysArt Project [Original Student Composition 1]

PhysArt Project [Original Student Composition 2]

PhysArt Project [Kaleidoscope]

PhysArt Project [LHC]

PhysArt Project [Physix meets Fabric 1]

PhysArt Project [Physix meets Fabric 2]

PhysArt Project [Figure Drawing with Einstein Quotes]

Please, share some project ideas you do in your Physix classes. Thank you

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Art & Physix, what a powerful educational pair!

I have been fortunate to be an avid lover of the Arts. And, thanks to David Perkins and his highly recommended book "The Intelligent Eye: Learning to Think by Looking at Art", I was able to see the value of combining the Arts and Physix in my approach to teaching/learning Physix and to assist my students to grow as critical and careful thinkers.
The following activity is an illustration of such a nice marriage of the Arts & Physix. It involves a writing prompt (another way of connecting the students' learning in Physix with other areas of learning, English writing in this case) that introduces students to Scientific Methods, sharpens their critical thinking, and strengthens their listening and writing skills. 

*** Start of Activity ***

a) I hand students a little piece of paper each.
b) I display the two questions "Murder or Suicide? & What is your Physix-Based Evidence?" and ask students to use one side of the sheet of paper to   write their names, the date, and their responses to these two questions.  
c) In addition, I ask the students to use clues from the art piece itself (no Googling or Wikiing is allowed then) to guesstimate the general period of the art piece and the nationality of the artist.
d) I then display the following art piece, ask the students to use their clickers to pick one of the two choices (murder or suicide?) to collect data of their responses, and then give them the signal to start the thinking and writing processes. 

e) Once they are done, they stand so that I pair each student up with another student in class (think-pair-share) to discuss their respective responses and commit them to the other side of the same sheet of paper while making sure they write the names of their respective partners (to encourage listening, collaboration, staging an argument, and the value of citation.)
f) The papers are collected and then the students use their clickers once again to select an answer choice to gauge how much change in opinion did occur from pre to post discussion.
g) The class is shown the histogram distribution of their answers to the prompt but the actual answer is not shown (to build up some suspense) for it will be displayed in my reference/citation slide and long after all the slides that introduce and elaborate upon the concepts related to scientific methods.
h) The lively discussions, the intelligent arguments raised, and the preliminary Physix concepts used are the highlight of the activity!

*** End of Activity ***

Now, it is your turn!

1) Without looking up the source code of this web page, assume the role of one of my students, have a partner do the same, and go through the motions of the activity to test it.
2) In the comments area, share the results of your experience, your guesstimates, and the Physix of course!
3) Also comment on how you would use other art pieces to help your students appreciate art on one hand and connect Physix with art on the other hand?
4) I use other art areas in other contexts of coverage of Physix material (which I will share in future posts ISA), share what you do with your students.

Thank you and keep the Arts in mind while doing Physix for they are indeed a powerful educational pair! 


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Are Simulations Effective?

Simulations programs such as Interactive Physics, PhET, Physlets , iDevices Apps help students either generate animations such as my Gravity Animation or manipulate physical quantities to generate what if situations regarding various Physix phenomena. 

What is your experience with such educational tools and how effective you think they are in advancing your students' understanding of Physix concepts?  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

New AP Physics Offerings, Good or Bad?

The much-talked about redesign of the AP Physics B program has finally materialized. I got an email from the College Board that started with "The 2014-15 school year marks the launch of the redesigned AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 courses (formerly AP Physics B).

My initial reaction is "Well, it is about time!" for I always thought that the AP Physics B exam was more about quantity than quality of content. 

I hope the changes are for the good and the initial reading seems to suggest so but I would have to reserve judgment until I complete reading all the material that the College Board is providing. 

If you already delved into the material or have been part of the group that drafted the changes, please, share your ideas, opinion, or suggestions in the comments area. Thank you