In 2nd semester physics we started solving circuit problems. Here is one group’s whiteboard. I’ve been leaning toward having students make a new graph and new table for each reduction. In general this mix of representation helps students to make sense of what they are doing with out over reliance on equations. And solving the problem sort of feels like working on a sudoku puzzle.

Before doing circuits we did a review activity to help us retrieve information in our minds, seek our relationships, notice gaps in our understanding, and ask questions. With all new concepts, a lot of students were confusing units with algebraic symbols. We also needed to talk about difference between general cases vs point charge specific cases. Students had lots of good questions about cause of charge, electric field, and electric potential energy. We clarified a lot about connection between potential and potential energy.

In physics one we finished up our introduction to energy and cycled back to kinematics to examine free fall. I like holding off on freefall until after students have forces, impulse, and energy under their belts. Students can make sense of what we do and don’t mean by free fall, can productively grapple with why acceleration is same for all masses, and have better hooks for what we do and don’t mean by initial and final velocity.

Here is some data we collected for a bouncy ball, using a Vernier motion detector to calculate kinetic and potential energies.

Next year I’d like to design a coherent lesson around these graphs. So many cool things to notice and ask questions about.