Sample Physics Curriculum
The following is a window into a 16 day that follows a unit on the Law of Conservation of Energy and is centered around the Law of Conservation of Momentum.
Starter Activity (Do Now)
It is important that students know the class exceptions the moment class starts. In order to set the tone and give myself a chance to check in with students, I like to start each class with a Do Now. A Do Now is question, or a set of questions, that either reviews prior content and/or previews upcoming content.
Above is a sample from day 3 and 4 of the unit. Both Do Nows are a review of the pervious days content and walk students through.
The day 3 Do Now uses a comic strip of a bowling ball being launched from a giant rubber sheet to ask students to create a graphical representation of the physical world.
They day 4 Do Now asks students to imagine a tennis ball being dropped on top of a basket ball and to use algebra to represent and predict the motion of the two objects. Following this Do Now I take students outside and try the experiment using a tennis ball and basket ball.
This document lives on my class website and is updated daily, providing students with a collection of example problems.
* Solutions created during class are shown blue text, images, or links to .pdfs and/or videos.
Physics and Engineering Challenges
Throughout the year I like to have my students complete a various physics projects. The goal of these projects is to review content in a way gives students opportunities to be creative and experience various science and engineering practices. I also like to use these projects to give students opportunities to acquire and refine their abilities to work in digital platforms.
Below is a sample of the Egg Drop project students complete following the conservation of energy and momentum units.
Sample of Student Work
Hands on Laboratory Experience
At the center of all science courses is an opportunity to learn through hands on experiments in a laboratory setting. This is important for understanding content through real world experiences, as well as developing problem solving skills. The main purpose of a laboratory experiment is to develop students ability to create scientific arguments using logical and empirical rationale expressed in mathematics and prose.
I composed the above laboratory experiment to give students an hands on understanding of the Law of Conservation of Momentum. In this lab students must design an experiment using video analysis software that demonstrates the Law of Conservation of Momentum.
Organization is vitally important to every aspect of life. Our students have busy lives and need to be given time management and organization tools. One way I do this is using a unit calendar and homework packet. This allows students to plan ahead.
In the future I hope to create a more interactive digital unit calendar with reminders that students can access on their cell phones.
I am a strong believer in learn by doing student led inquiry, but occasionally it is necessary for students to receive direct instruction via a traditional lecture. I try to record all my lectures so students can use them as a resource later in the unit for studying. I also require my students to take Cornell Style notes in order to encourage students to review their notes 24 hours after the lecture.
Virtual Laboratory Simulations
Hands on laboratory experiences add great value to the educational experience, but sometimes the use of computer simulations can add efficiency to the learning process. I like to use this simulation when discussing conservation of momentum in two dimensional space because the results are perfect, allowing students to more easily account for the exchange of momentum during the collisions.
I like to follow this simulation with a hands on experiment where students play a game of marbles and video tape the collisions between marbles from an overhead view. Students then use a video analysis program to study the physics in the collisions.