Sunday, April 26, 2015

This is a post about task cards and puzzles I have created for my AP Physics class.  I teach AP Physics - Mechanics.  So, these activities are specifically geared for that course, but could be used in other Mechanics courses as well (some could even be usefully in calculus).

Check them out :)

1)  Free Fall Task Cards - this is a set of 10 task cards that students can use to practice solving problems about Free Fall.  Each task card includes a QR Code that can be scanned so students have immediate feedback.

2)  Potential and Kinetic Energy and Conservation of Energy Task Cards - this is a set of 12 task cards that students can use to practice solving problems about Energy.  This packet also includes two worksheets that can be used as examples about a pendulum and a roller coaster.  QR codes are included on each task card.

3) Coming Soon - Projectile Motion Cards

4)  End of Year Word Puzzles - do you need something to fill some time or a short sub activity?  My students loved these Crossword and Word Search Puzzles.  The word search puzzle gives the symbol for various different physics terms and students will find the word that goes with the symbol.  The crossword puzzle features 25 different vocabulary words that students should be familiar with by the end of a mechanics course.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mental Math Challenge

Mental math is a serious problem.  I know that, as math teachers, we have all experienced the sinking feeling in our stomachs when we see students pull out their calculators to multiply by 10 or add 1!  It makes me want to pull my hair out :)

So, I decided to challenge my class the other day.  I told my Geometry Honors class that we were going to have a Mental Math Challenge.  They were not allowed to use a paper, pencil, or calculator.  They had to sit and listen to me give 4 directions such as…

Divide by 3.

No repeating, no calculator, no pencil…it was a serious recipe for disaster!

Quite frankly, I was surprised when I graded the google forms.  Students did HORRIBLE!

My students are great - the kids are good and they study…but they need help with mental math :)  I figure that mental math is like exercise…you need to keep doing it to keep your mind healthy!

So, I created these task cards to help.

I think they can be used in a few ways.

1.  You could use the stack of cards as a center.

2.  You could read the directions on each card to the class, and then choose a student to scan the QR Code.  (If you don't have a smart device to read the QR Code, no problem, an answer key is included).

3.  Give a few cards to each student or group and have them trade.

4.  Make the cards into a stack - punch a hole and put them on a ring.  Bring them in a car for one of your children :)

4.  The cards are easy to make differentiable - some are more difficult than others.

I envision creating another stack soon that also involves some negative and some larger numbers!

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Physics Mystery Bag Challenge

What in the world can you do on the day before Spring Break in Physics class with a bunch of senior boys who just want to be done with school?  (To be fair, I have girls in the class too, but they are much more willing to sit down and listen, even on the day before Spring Break!)

I searched pinterest and websites and came across this website Mystery Bag Challenge.  I felt like I could adapt this idea to fit my class.

I used the idea from the blog I mentioned and decided to try the Pom Pom Challenge.  I liked this activity because I already had most of the materials on hand - I just had to buy the pom poms.

The students entered the classroom and saw the Mystery Bags and immediately wanted them - they figured that there were Easter treats inside :)

Once everyone got to class, I divided the class into groups and showed them what was in the bag.  (All of the bags had the same materials):

The task at hand:  Build a pom pom launcher that can launch the pom pom as far as possible.  The group that launches it the farthest wins.  (I didn't need to offer any prize other than WINNING - did I mention I have a bunch of competitive students?)

The students got right to it and started to think up ideas.  As we went along I had to make a couple of rules…you had to actually build something, you couldn't just use a straw that was provided and make something that resembled a pea shooter.  Also, I had to make the rule that the pom poms could not be modified (students want to roll them in tape or attach one to a popsicle stick and launch that).

Here are some pictures of the students in process:

And a picture of a group that decided they didn't need all their supplies and were raising the white flag :)

There were a couple of really good efforts!

I hope you enjoyed reading about this activity!  I am trying to think of some more Mystery Physics in a bag, so if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them :)

Have a great Spring Break,