AP PhysicsCourse of study 05.28.14 Final

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MT. DIABLO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
COURSE OF STUDY
COURSE TITLE: AP Physics C: Mechanics
COURSE NUMBER: 2728
CBEDS NUMBER: 2623
DEPARTMENT:
Science
LENGTH OF COURSE: 1 year
CREDITS PER SEMESTER: 5
GRADE LEVEL(S): 11-12
REQUIRED OR ELECTIVE: This course fulfills one year of the high school
electives and UC/CSU “d” requirement
PREREQUISITES:
Required - Algebra II
Concurrent enrollment in Pre-calculus and permission of instructor
BOARD OF EDUCATION ADOPTION:
COURSE DESCRIPTION:
AP Physics C: Mechanics is equivalent to the first term of the Physics for Scientists and
Engineers course taken by students majoring in physics, chemistry, engineering, biological
sciences, and computer programs at a college or university. Algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and
vectors are used to solve mechanics problems requiring students to be concurrently enrolled in a
pre-calculus, calculus or higher mathematics course. Students investigate the world around them
in an inquiry based manner applying the concepts they learn to real world scenarios. A written
lab portfolio is required though specific labs are not. Technology is also stressed in this course.
Students are expected to use a computer program such as Excel for graphing their data then
analyze the information from the graph. Also, electronic equipment such as photo gates, motion
sensors and force sensors are instrumental to student learning. The topics that students explore
include force and motion in one or two dimensions as well as rotation. Energy is also a focus of
the course including collisions, satellite motion and oscillations such as with pendulums or
springs. Approved textbook: Physics for Scientists and Engineers with Modern Physics,
Pearson, 4th edition by Douglas C. Giancoli. Text support includes the online student and teacher
resource: Mastering Physics and the student non-consumable workbook Physics for Scientists &
Engineers with Modern Physics, Volume I, Student Study Guide & Selected Solutions Manual by
Frank L. H. Wolfs.
COURSE PURPOSE:
Since AP Physics C: Mechanics only covers mechanics the opportunity to spend more time and
delve deeper arises. Colleagues have described this course as moving similarly to a glacier. As
with a glacier, the movement through the curriculum is done at a slow rate but also as with a
glacier, it goes very deep and covers a wide range of applications. This gives students the
opportunity to really grasp the concepts at a meaningful depth, applying their upper level math
skills to the material. It also means that students apply the knowledge to the real world in
practical manners.
The focus in AP Physics is on inquiry based learning. This means that students design and
perform their own experiments. Additionally, they analyze the collected data which serves as
evidence to support their claims. One such lab is using coffee filters to explore free fall and the
coefficient of friction. Students decide how they will drop coffee filters and measure their velocity.
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Are they changing the mass of the coffee filters by increasing the number of filters they are
dropping, adding mass or perhaps changing the shape of the filter or angle of descent? How
about height; how can changes in height effect the friction? All of these are questions the
students discuss in their lab groups as part of the process of designing their lab and deciding
which variables to test.
Another example of inquiry based learning is the Inquiry Station. This teaching strategy allows
students to explore phenomenon before learning the physics concepts. One example of inquiry
stations involves resonance. Students rotate in small groups to approximately five stations. At
each of these stations they find equipment with instructions and a few guiding questions. For
instance at their resonance stations students will find locations where the tone from the tuning
fork resonates, amplifying the sound. After visiting all stations, we reconvene as a whole class
and discuss the common thread throughout the stations giving us a starting point for the next
topic or chapter.
Technology is also stressed in this course. Students are expected to use a computer program
such as excel for graphing their data then analyze the information from the graph. Also,
electronic equipment such as photo gates, motion sensors and even flying pigs are instrumental
to their learning! Students use electronic pigs that flap their wings to fly in a circle in order to
calculate centripetal force and motion.
The topics that students explore include force and motion in one or two dimensions as well as
rotation. Energy is also a focus of the course including collisions, satellite motion and oscillation
such as pendulums or springs. In order to understand these concepts at a deep level, students
will practice Habits of Mind Skills such as Thinking About Thinking, Questioning and Posing
Problems, and Thinking and Communicating With Clarity and Precision throughout the course.
AP Physics C: Mechanics is equivalent to the first term of the Physics for Scientists and
Engineers course taken by students majoring in physics, chemistry, engineering, biological
sciences, and computer programs at a college or university. Algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and
vectors will be used to solve mechanics problems requiring students to be concurrently enrolled
in a pre-calculus, calculus or higher mathematics course. Students investigate the world around
them in an inquiry based manner applying the concepts they learn to real world scenarios.
COURSE OUTLINE:
The first topic covered in AP Physics D: Mechanics is Kinematics. This includes motion in one
dimension such as free fall, which is analyzed by graphing. Students are taught to use slopes,
derivatives, anti-derivatives and area under the curve to analyze displacement, velocity and
acceleration of motion. As part of kinematics vectors are broken into their components for adding
magnitudes and with the use of trigonometry directions are found. These are the topics of
Chapters two and three. At the beginning of each chapter is a chapter opening question. This
question is addressed as a warm-up before students begin the chapter. At this time all answers
are acknowledged and discussed with students providing reasoning for their answer. As the
concept is developed throughout the chapter the question is brought up again so students can
reevaluate their comprehension allowing them to correct their misconceptions.
Next Newton’s laws of motion are investigated in chapters four, five and six. Static equilibrium or
inertia, forces such as the force due to gravity or the normal force provided by the surface are
included. Free body diagrams are an important tool that is learned for evaluating net force.
These concepts are then applied to circular motion. Friction is added as a force that is
considered. The kinematics and dynamics of uniform circular motion include centripetal motion
and the effects of banked curves on resultant forces acting on a body. Finally, Newton’s laws are
applied to gravitation including escape velocity, Kepler’s laws and satellite motion. In the
Mastering Physics on line resource which accompanies the text, students can access the Study
Area where ActivPhysics for Part 1: Mechanics can be found. For chapter five there are seven of
these inter-actives including one on satellite motion. These are valuable resources that reinforce
student learning.
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Chapters seven and eight cover work, energy and power. Students can access the PowerPoint
presentations for each chapter in the assignment section of Mastering Physics. The intention is
that students take notes on the information before coming to class where the serious work can
begin. In chapters seven and eight the work energy theorem is of particular importance. The
basics of gravitational forces are applied to potential energy then with the use of conservation of
energy, kinetic energy comes into play. To complete the picture Hooke’s laws for springs are
learned as well as spring potential energy.
In chapter nine momentum, collisions, and conservation of momentum are covered. Impulse is
defined and the impulse-momentum theorem is introduced. Finally, center of mass and its effects
on translational motion are learned. As formative assessment students are given online quizzes
that are posted in Mastering Physics. Students receive hints when submitting incorrect answers
and are given second or third chances to earn points. This promotes a learning opportunity
rather than a punitive high stakes evaluation of learning.
Chapters ten and eleven investigate torque and angular quantities such as angular velocity or
angular acceleration. Rotational plus translational motions are applied to rolling and slipping.
Finally, conservation of momentum is applied to angular situations. The text provides many
examples including calculus based problems as well as conceptual examples. During class
students are broken into small groups and assigned an example. They work through this
example and become the master of this problem so they can teach the rest of class. The text
provides the complete solution including an explanation of the strategies used to solve similar
problems. End of chapter problems are also assigned with the answers being posted in students
Mastering Physics resource before the summative test.
The final topic for the course is in chapter fourteen and covers oscillations. Simple Harmonic
Motion is defined then applied to pendulums and springs. Forces are applied to oscillations so
damping and forced oscillations are covered with resonance being introduced. The workbook
that accompanies this text (Student Study Guide & Selected Solutions Manual) offers very
complete and informative chapter summaries. Also included are key problems and a practice quiz
that reinforces student learning.
For Lab Sciences Only
LABORATORY ACTIVITIES:
AP Physics students spend at least 20% of their class time doing hands-on laboratory work;
approximately five to eight labs per quarter. For most laboratory activities, students will be asked
to design their own experiment, test their ideas by conducting their experiment, make
observations and collect data. Therefore, students are required to spend class time collaborating
in their lab groups designing their lab in advance. Many labs also require post lab class time
clarifying concepts, calculations and linearization of graphs. Most labs also include a pre-lab
assignment, which is given as homework to further assist students in preparing for the lab. These
activities develop student’s critical thinking as well as Habits of Mind skills such as Thinking About
Thinking as they develop their plan, Questioning and Posing Problems in their pre and post lab
writing as well as the obvious skill of Gathering Data Through All Senses.
Though student’s work in small collaborative groups for labs, each student is responsible for
submitting their own written report; which analyzes, synthesizes, and evaluates data connecting
students’ results to physics concepts. Some labs are done using simple, “low-tech” equipment
and others are done with probe-ware or sensors and a computer. Students are given a lab
notebook. This notebook acts as a portfolio documenting student’s progress through the AP level
physics labs. The written potion of the lab aids students in developing Habits of Mind Thinking
and Communicating With Clarity and Precision.
The concept covered in the first lab of the year is Experimental Precision and Data Collection. To
this end, students spend class time designing a lab relating the radius of a circle to its
circumference. Students will design a method of measuring a variety of bottle caps using a
micrometer, ruler, and string. They will analyze their findings by graphing radius or diameter
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versus the measured circumference using a graphing program such as Excel. A percent
difference including uncertainty is calculated between their findings and the expected results of
circumference equals two pi times the radius. This first lab gives students the opportunity to
familiarize themselves with the expected method of writing a lab report and using a computer for
graphing. Evidence based writing is stressed where students use their data to support their
claims or conclusions in order to clearly communicate their results.
This lab takes one and three quarters of an hour of class time.
The next lab, “Merrily We Roll Along”, covers one dimensional kinematics using ramps and a
variety of balls, cylinders or rods. Students may vary the mass, or shape of objects as well as the
angle or height of the ramp. The time it takes an object to roll down the ramp is measured with
photo gates. Students are required to generate a computerized graph of their results as part of
their analysis. They must also clearly show the expected results for the slope of their graph and
calculate the error in this experiment. Students are expected to collaborate in their group as to
what could be done differently next time to improve their precision or further investigate this topic.
Two hours of class time are spent on the pre-lab, lab and post-lab analysis.
The concept of free fall is explored next using photo gates and a variety of objects in the Drop
Tower lab. By relating this concept to the amusement park ride, the Drop Tower, students apply
the physics concepts to the real world immediately. This is an exercise in the Habits of Mind of
connecting past knowledge to new situations. In this lab, students may vary the height or mass of
the object that is being dropped. Since their results of the relationship between distance and time
are expected to be exponential, the concept of linearizing a graph is stressed. Additional class
time is spent evaluating the shape of graphs in an effort to understand the value of using graphs
to represent the relationship between the variables. Derivatives and anti-derivatives are
introduced at this time and applied to their distance, velocity and acceleration versus time graphs.
A minimum of two hours of class time is spent on this lab.
Vectors are introduced next with the “Riding With The Wind” lab incorporating the concepts of
Newton’s Laws and vectors. This lab requires students to use free body diagrams to represent
the forces acting on a cart with a sail as a fan blows on it. The angle of the sail, the magnitude
and direction of the wind force, or the mass of the cart can be varied at student discretion.
Analysis is expected to include evidence based writing supporting the use of vectors in adding
and multiplying forces.
One and a half hours of class time are spent on this lab.
Projectile motion is explored next by applying Newton’s Laws of motion in the “Horizontal Motion”
lab. Students are given a variety of curved ramps, and manual or electronic photo gate timers.
After measuring the time it takes a ball to travel a horizontal distance at the bottom of the ramp,
students predict where the ball will land when launched from the height of the lab table. Students
are required to calculate the percent difference between experimental and actual horizontal range
including uncertainty of measurements. Possible sources of error such as friction are to be
considered when analyzing the precision of this experiment.
One and one quarter hours of class time are spent on this lab.
The concept of vectors is applied to Newton’s Laws concerning force. A force table is used
where force is applied on a ring in three different directions. When the ring is kept in the center of
the table then equilibrium is reached and according to Newton’s First Law the sum of the forces
equals zero. Students record the angles and forces required to reach equilibrium then using
trigonometry break the vectors into their components. Finally, they add the vector components
and determine the percent difference between their vectors and the expected result of zero net
force. Another option is for students to measure two force vectors acting on the ring and
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calculate the third force vector required to reach equilibrium. Students use a process to analyze
the options during the design segment of this experiment.
This lab requires one and one quarter hours of class time.
In order to further understand Newton’s Second Law, students are given a double pulley system
in which to experiment with an Atwood’s machine. This apparatus allows students to slow down
acceleration due to gravity by counter weighting their object. In fact, they can simulate
acceleration due to gravity on the moon! They use free body diagrams and Newton’s Second
Law for their exploration.
One and a half hours of class time are spent on this lab.
Friction is another example of Newton’s Laws at work. For their experiment on friction, students
can use ramps and a variety of objects such as blocks made of a variety of materials. Some
blocks are wood or aluminum; others have sandpaper on one side which changes the amount of
friction between the block and the ramp. The mass of the block or the angle of the ramp can also
be varied. Students need to use Habits of Mind skills in order to develop a decision process to
design their experiment. The force required to begin the blocks sliding down a ramp can be
measured or calculated. Results of the force of static or kinetic friction versus the normal force
can be analyzed by graphing using a computer program such as Excel. The slope of the graph
should result in the coefficient of friction. Computers are again an important factor in graphing the
results; and free body diagrams are a vital tool for analysis.
This lab requires one and a half hours of class time.
To further investigate air friction and drag force, coffee filters become lab equipment! One or
more coffee filters can be dropped while students measure their velocity. Are they changing the
mass of the coffee filters by increasing the number of filters they are dropping, adding mass or
perhaps changing the shape or angle of descent? How about height; how can changes in height
effect the friction? All of these are questions the students develop in the process of deciding
which variables to test and how to do so. Graphing their results assists students in organizing
their data and drawing their conclusions. Conclusions must be supported by evidence from their
data.
This experiment takes one and a half hours of class time to complete.
As students’ progress from linear motion to rotational motion, they use a “Whirligig” for a simple
experiment. This is a 12” pipe with a string going through the inside. At one end of the string is a
rubber stopper and the other has several masses. This is spun until equilibrium is reached which
means a constant velocity and a constant radius of the circle of the stopper. From the
measurements of mass and radius, the velocity of the stopper and the forces acting on it can be
calculated. Students gain exposure to the new concept of rotational motion and develop their
critical thinking while analyzing this lab. This lab serves as a good introduction for the more
complex lab which follows.
This lab takes one and one quarter hour of class time.
When pigs fly, the concepts of centripetal force and acceleration are being analyzed in AP
Physics class! In this experiment, students develop a method of measuring the diameter or
radius of the flying pig and the angle they are flying. They may use clinometers to measure the
angle or trigonometry to calculate it. The other factors that need to be measured are the time it
takes a pig to fly one lap and the little piggy’s mass. Though during the analysis students actually
find that the mass is irrelevant; which is an important concept for students to discover! Though
this lab sounds like nothing but fun, in fact the calculations and graphs are complex. This means
it takes a little longer than other labs.
This lab takes one and three quarters of an hour of class time.
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Energy is the next topic that is covered in this course and is introduced by the use of “Energy
Stations”. For this experiment, students work in small groups to investigate a chosen energy
topic; meaning each group has a different topic. They are given the equipment with detailed
instructions to perform the experiment and collect data. For example, one of the energy stations
requires students to investigate the energy transfers of mixing baking soda and vinegar, which is
an endothermic reaction. After making observations and recording changes in temperature,
students are asked to combine calcium chloride with water. This produces an exothermic
reaction. These concepts and others guide students through a multi-step process of observation
in a new framework which includes energy transfers. Students are redefining what they already
know and adding physics to their cognition of the world around them. After completing their
experiment, students rotate from station to station learning from their peers who have become
masters of the concepts at their station. By teaching others, students deepen their understanding
of the topic. Habits of Mind are used throughout this exercise by guiding students into
questioning and posing problems and applying past knowledge to new situations.
These energy stations take a minimum of one and one quarter hours of class time.
The “Hopper Popper” lab makes use of a simple toy to further investigate energy by applying the
conservation of energy. A “Hopper Popper” is half of a hollow ball made of an elastic material
that will store potential energy when turned inside out. When set against a firm surface such as a
floor or lab table and then released, it will return to its original shape, pushing off the surface
when doing so. This means the “Hopper Popper” flies into the air! Using conservation of energy,
the potential energy can be calculated by measuring the maximum height of the flight of the
popper. This is more complicated than it sounds and takes true team work and fluent
communication between partners as described in Habits of Mind skills. Next, the kinetic energy
and thereby the velocity can be calculated.
This lab requires one and one quarter of an hour of class time.
Another lab which explores Conservation of Energy is the “Bull’s Eye” Lab. Similar to the lab
where students predict the horizontal range of a launched ball, students predict the landing spot
of a dart from a spring loaded toy gun. Though the same methods as the “Horizontal Motion” lab
can be used for the prediction, this lab is complicated by the use of a spring loading mechanism.
Therefore, use of conservation of energy allows calculation of the initial spring potential energy,
the final kinetic energy and final velocity. Finally, the data can be analyzed by graphing in order
to ascertain the spring constant. Truly, there is more than one way to solve a problem and this
lab assists students in finding creative solutions to problems, as well as developing the Habits of
Mind skill of flexibility.
One and one quarter hours of class time are required for this lab.
The next topic of study is conservation of momentum, as well as one and two-dimensional
collisions. One of the possible set-ups in the “Exploding Cart” lab is to place two spring loaded
carts end to end. One of the springs is released causing the carts to accelerate away from each
other. Students develop a method to measure distance and times of the carts in order to
calculate velocity. By using the mass of the carts, momentum can be calculated. Before the
spring is released the momentum is zero, so the expected final momentum is also zero. This
allows students to calculate a percent difference between the expected and actual final
momentum of the system. This lab can be done using an air track or carts that are propelled
toward each other rather than exploding apart as described above. Besides these design
decisions, students analyze their findings by comparing these experimental collisions to what they
already know of the real world collisions. Applying past knowledge to new situations is a Habits
of Mind skill.
This lab required one and three quarters of an hour of class time.
Continuing investigations of momentum lead to differentiation of elastic and inelastic collisions. In
the “Go Cart” lab, a pendulum with a mallet at the end is swung so it collides with a dynamic cart.
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The mallet has half a ball on each end. One of the balls will cause the mallet to bounce, which is
an elastic collision and the other will bring it to a stop or inelastic collision after hitting the cart.
Initial potential energy at the top of the swing is compared to final kinetic energy at the bottom of
the swing so that velocity and thereby momentum can be calculated. By comparing the
momentum of the cart and mallet after collision students can ascertain which scenario transfers
greater momentum to the cart. Error analysis is important for this experiment. Choices students
have for this lab included varying the height of the pendulum, the mass of the cart, as well as the
method for measuring velocity. This experiment gives students a fuller understanding of elastic
and inelastic collisions in a creative manner. They must also compare these results to real life
collisions in order to critically analyze the relevance of collisions.
This lab takes one and one half hours of class time.
Circular motion is continued at this time but at a more complex level. The “Turning Point” lab
uses conservation of energy with a twist of circular motion. For this experiment a string pendulum
with a ball at the end is used. A bar is placed at the bottom of the swing so that as the pendulum
continues to swing past the bar it has a smaller radius. The bar is adjusted until the length of the
string above the bar is at a minimum yet the string remains taut during its swing. Students are
required to graph the results and calculate the error by comparing the slope of the graph to the
expected value. This type of analysis of data is significant in developing critical thinking and
evidence based reasoning.
This lab requires one and one half hours of class time.
Continuing with the concepts of rotational kinematics and dynamics; the “Rotational Motion” lab is
next. For this lab a turntable, with pegs at varying distances from the center, rotates at variable
speed. Photo gates are used to measure linear velocity so students can compare the linear
velocity to the radius. By graphing using Excel, linear velocity versus the radius, students find
that the slope is the angular speed. This process of analysis challenges students’ critical thinking
enabling them to internalize their comprehension of rotational dynamics. Students must be able
to clearly communicate in their lab report why the slope of their graph is expected to be the
angular speed and they must support their claims using their data as evidence.
This lab takes one and three quarters of an hour of class time.
The final topic for the course is oscillations. “Hooke’s Law and Harmonic Motion” lab uses a
spring, a variety of masses and a timer or photo gate. Though Hooke’s law has already been
investigated in the “Bull’s Eye” lab, the focus was on conservation of energy. This time students
develop two methods of finding the spring constant (k), and then compare the two in order to
calculate their error. One method is to measure both the weight of the object placed on the
bottom of the spring and the spring displacement, which is the stretch of the spring. Using a
computer program to graph the results, students find the slope is the spring constant. A second
way of finding the spring constant is to use the period of the spring when it oscillates. A graph of
period versus mass is plotted which students find to be exponential. In order to linearize the
graph, the period is squared. Students use the slope of this linearized graph to calculate the
spring constant. The two methods of finding the spring constant yield different results so the error
must be calculated then evaluated. This type of critical analysis is crucial to students’ success in
AP Physics.
This lab takes two hours of class time.
Resources used for supporting lab activity include the AP Physics Lab Guide by J. Patrick Polley,
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Beloit College, Wisconsin, 2003 and the AP Physics Lab
Manual A Guided Inquiry Approach by Borislaw Bilash II, Cenco.
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KEY ASSIGNMENTS:
Throughout the course, inquiry and investigative learning are emphasized. One such assignment
is the Socratic discussion on friction as covered in chapter five.
Socratic Discussion on Friction: For this lesson students are broken into groups of three or
four and given a prompt and diagram asking students to discuss which object will have the
greatest speed when reaching the bottom of the ramp. Both objects are poised at the top of the
ramp, one of which is at a greater angle than the other. Students are given time to discuss this in
their group and write their individual response to the question. Next they are asked their potential
energy at the top of the ramp and their kinetic energy at the bottom of the ramp. Since they are
both starting at the same height, it is now evident that both have the same initial potential energy
which indicates they have the same final kinetic energy and velocity. This typically contradicts
the initial conclusion that the object on the steeper ramp will be going faster than the other. This
method of presenting friction is much more powerful and learnt on a deeper level because
students have persisted through a meta-cognitive process.
Another key assignment is the inquiry lab on inertia which is the basis of Newton’s first law from
chapter four.
Inquiry Station on Inertia: In this assignment, students rotate to six stations where equipment
and directions are set for them to investigate. One such station has an index card which students
balance on their finger with a quarter on top. They then flick the card out from under the quarter
leaving it poised on their fingertip! Though they don’t yet have physics terms to apply to the
event, they’ve just experienced inertia first hand. They are then asked to diagram their set-up
and hypothesize a possible explanation of the occurrence. The other stations include pulling a
table cloth out from under a setting of plates and flatware, dropping a slinky while observing its
center of mass and pulling an embroidery hoop balanced on top of a bottle out from under a
marker. The common thread in these stations is that the more massive objects stay put while the
less massive ones don’t. This is students’ introduction to inertia. These events are referenced
throughout our unit on inertia allowing students to apply new knowledge to what they have
already learned.
One project that students complete is the Egg Drop.
Egg Drop: This project involves concepts of energy and momentum as covered in chapters
seven through nine. The goal is for students to design and build a container for an egg which will
protect it when dropped from the top of the football stadium. The container they design must
increase the time of impact in order to decrease the force acting on the egg. This relates to
impulse, energy and momentum.
Another key assignment is the Global Climate Summit.
Global Climate Summit: This is an extension of our unit on energy from chapters seven and
eight. Students are broken into small groups of three or four and assigned a fictitious country.
They are given information about how global warming is affecting their country. Some examples
of problems the groups are suffering from include flood, drought, or reduced shoreline. Students
are to research possible solutions and develop a plan of action. This plan of action must consider
economic, environmental and social equity impacts. Therefore, if only one group of people such
as the elderly are suffering health problems due to the increased temperature, then solutions
must be considered. Students also research the engineered technologies of hydrogen fuel cells,
geological sequestration, atmospheric sequestration, or oceanic sequestration.
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experiments are performed on each of these technologies.
Finally, the Global Climate Summit begins and groups report on their research on sequestration
or fuel cells. Next, countries present their improvement plan they’ve developed. Finally,
proposals that each group have prepared are presented to the summit and representatives from
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all countries discuss and agree whether to accept, modify or deny them. One such proposal
would be that all countries are to increase their use of alternative energy sources such as solar,
wind, algae or tidal by ten percent in ten years, twenty percent in twenty years and thirty percent
in thirty years. A Global Climate Summit agreement is drafted and all members of all countries
sign. This project focuses on the current relevant energy crisis which is a societal issue. It forces
students to find creative solutions to problems and to realize that no solutions are simple because
effects on other people and countries must be considered. Also, solutions that only consider
short term results are not sustainable and therefore unwise. The growth of students throughout
this project is awesome!
Another key assignment implements the hippocampus website: http://www.hippocampus.org.
Hippocampus: At this site students access the content for AP Physics C: Mechanics then the
particular modular that I assign. These modules present material including examples that
students need to work through in order to progress through the video. Hippocampus modules
provide hints so students can go back to try again after which solutions are provided. I scaffold
these lessons with prompts for students to take notes so students are prepared for additional
problem solving in class.
Other key assignments are end of chapter conceptual questions and problems.
End of Chapter Conceptual Questions and Problems: These problems offer students the
opportunity to practice the concepts learned in class. In order to enhance student learning,
solutions are posted in Mastering Physics before the summative test.
INSTRUCTIONS METHODS and/or STRATEGIES:
Risk Taking as encouraged in the Habits of Mind skills is vital in science. Scientists must
experiment outside their comfort zone in order to discover something new. For this reason a safe
classroom environment must be developed where there is no such thing as a “mistake”. This
format of welcoming all students and all ideas is begun on the first day of school and built on
during the following weeks. Mistakes are not punished but explored as a learning opportunity.
Many self-designed labs are not going to work the way they were intended and that is okay. As
long as the student clearly describes their findings in their lab report including what they would do
differently next time, then they have learned and are given credit for their “mistakes”.
Explicit Direct Instruction strategies such as think-pair-share, white boards and other checks
for understanding guide the lecture portion of the class. Teacher modeling and demonstrations
are also vital components of the classroom.
Bloom’s Taxonomy guides lesson planning promoting inquiry using critical thinking through the
use of open ended questions, class discussions, Socratic discussions, and inquiry stations where
students discover concepts before their presentation in lecture. Real-life experiences are used to
activate student’s prior knowledge of concepts. These strategies also emphasize the Habits of
Mind skills such as Thinking Flexibly, Questioning and Posing Problems, and Applying Past
Knowledge to New Situations.
The Flipped Classroom is used as a model for instruction of this class. This means that
homework lessons will be posted on instructor’s website (https://sites.google.com/site/mrslphysics),
or Mastering Physics which supplements the textbook. Mastering Physics allows students to take
online quizzes, access interactive assignments, tutorials, PowerPoint presentations and homework
solutions. By accessing these assignments as homework, class time can focus on practicing
problems with teacher support since students have learned the material and taken notes for
homework. For this reason, students are required to have access to the internet outside of class.
For students that cannot access the internet either in the computer lab in the library, their small
learning community academy or at home, a printed copy of the text of the posted lesson can be
provided. Other online links that are used include http://www.hippocampus.org. At this site students
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access the content for AP Physics C: Mechanics then the particular modular that I assign. These
modules present material including examples that students need to work out in order to progress
through the material. Hippocampus modules provide hints so students can go back to try again
after which solutions are provided. I scaffold these lessons with prompts for students to take notes
so students are prepared for additional problem solving in class.
Peer Tutoring is used in class with problem solving. Since many of the example problems given
for this level of physics involve multi-steps and therefore time, students are broken into small
groups and assigned an example. They work through this example on a large white board
becoming the master of this problem so they can teach the rest of class. This strategy keeps
students engaged while gaining practice with problem solving by using the physics concepts they
have learned. By teaching others, students deepen their understanding of the topic.
Designing models such as a container for safely dropping an egg supports engineering goals as
well as Habits of Mind such as Creating, Imagining and Innovation. Additionally, all labs are
student designed requiring similar development of skill.
The GUESS method of problem solving is expected to be used in solving all word problems. This
method scaffolds word problems so that students first write down their given: G. Next they record
the unknown variable or U followed by E for equation. Finally, the first S stands for substitute,
and the second S means solve. This strategy assists students in organizing the information in
order to follow a multi-step procedure for solving word problems. This is significant since almost
all problems are word problems about the world around us.
ASSESSMENTS INCLUDING METHODS and/or TOOLS
Tests will be given at the end of each unit. All tests will be timed with multiple choice and short
response questions in the AP format of testing. Multiple choice questions will focus on
understanding physics fundamentals synthesized at a conceptual level with critical analysis. The
short response questions require that students Strive for Accuracy and Precision (Habits of Mind)
by calculating physics quantities. Besides the summative assessment offered by written exams,
formative assessment of students’ progress will be based upon their laboratory design, lab report,
assignments, projects and presentations which have already been described.
For VAPA Courses Only:
ARTISTIC PERCEPTION
CREATIVE EXPRESSION:
HISTORICAL and CULTURAL CONTEXT:
ASTHETIC VALUING:
CONNECTIONS, RELATIONSHIPS, and APPLICATIONS:
INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS:
District adopted textbook and supplementary materials: Physics for Scientists and Engineers with
Modern Physics, Pearson, 4th edition by Douglas C. Giancoli. Text support includes the online
student and teacher resource: Mastering Physics and the student non-consumable workbook
Physics for Scientists & Engineers with Modern Physics, Volume I, Student Study Guide &
Selected Solutions Manual by Frank L. H. Wolfs.
Computer and projector for teacher
Lab equipment, including but not restricted, to computer interface, photo-gates, time of flight
sensor, motion and force sensors, rotational motion turntable, friction kit, flying pigs, ramps, and a
variety of balls.
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For Honors Distinction:
CORRESPONDING NON-HONORS COURSE:
Physics is the non-honors course corresponding to this proposed Advanced Placement
Physics C: Mechanics course.
DIFFERENCES in HONORS/NON-HONORS COURSES:
The AP Physics C: Mechanics class is designed to cover less material than Physics which
provides an overview of a large range of physics topics. Therefore, AP Physics students have
the opportunity to delve into the material at a broader and deeper level. Since only the topics of
mechanics are covered; force, motion, energy, momentum, rotational dynamics and oscillations
the opportunity to use calculus when applying these concepts is given. Time is also spent
investigating a wider variety of applications of physics concepts. This course is intended for
students pursuing STEM fields after high school.
In the Physics course, these topics are covered as well as waves, electricity, magnetism and
thermodynamics at the algebra level only using the Conceptual Physics textbook. For instance
when studying Newton’s laws, students in AP Physics apply the concept to an elevator and how
their apparent weight changes depending on whether the elevator is accelerating up, down or not
at all. Have you ever had your stomach do a flip flop as a speeding elevator quickly comes to a
stop? Newton’s laws explain such phenomenon. In AP Physics Newton’s laws are applied to
such situations and the changes in weight, force and acceleration are all calculated. In the
Physics class, the concept of feeling the floor pushing up against your feet making you feel
heavier as the elevator accelerates up is the extent of the application of Newton’s laws.
Another factor that differentiates AP Physics C: Mechanics from Physics is the lab portfolio. All
AP Physics labs are inquiry based and completely recorded in students’ lab journals. Students
are given a concept to explore with a variety of equipment. They not only design their own
experiment but analyze their data. They are required to use computer programming such as
excel to graph their data and develop a relationship between variables. Alternatively, though
students in Physics don’t develop their own experiment, they are provided scaffolding toward
critically analyzing their data and using evidence based writing.
An example of these
differences is the “Drop Tower” lab which both AP Physics and Physics students perform. Both
classes use the same equipment but the instructions for Physics are totally scripted and for AP
Physics, students determine their own procedure and variables. For analysis, graphing is
required in both classes but in AP Physics students use the computer for graphing and are
required to linearize the graph after finding that the relationship of height versus time is parabolic.
Students in the Physics course graph the results manually and are instructed to graph height
versus time squared. In both cases, acceleration due to gravity is calculated from the slope of the
graph; the difference is in the process of getting that result.
Also, in the AP Physics class all end of chapter tests are timed similar to the AP Testing format.
Students are given approximately two minutes per multiple choice question and fifteen minutes
for free response problems. In the Physics class, students are given unlimited time to finish their
test.
Committee Members:
Mt. Diablo HS
Mt. Diablo HS
Karen Lowande
Carol Mishler
Northgate HS
Student Achievement & School Support
Dan Reynolds
Marie Schirmer
Teacher
Science Department Chair &
Teacher
Teacher
School Support Administrator,
Science
11
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