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Toy cars

August 21, 2010
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We began class in honors physics today by going through the grading presentation I gave to my intro class, and it was really interesting to see how kids react to a grading system that is so different from what they’re used to; I think they were generally surprised that they could simply show me understanding by explaining something, and I’d record that in my gradebook.

In another class, we had a great “what is understanding?” conversation, and this led to considering the huge role perception and drive play in determining how well we understand something. Ultimately, a couple of kids even volunteered that they are 99% in control of their mindset in this class. I think they’re starting to drink the kool-aid.

We wrapped up class with the constant velocity lab that begins just by looking at a motorized cart, and setting the kids loose to measure something about it. It’s great to see just how much the kids struggle with experimental design at first. Everyone wants to simply measure out distances and find the time it takes to travel that distance. So I challenge them to instead measure the position of the cart at pre-chosen times, but this is much harder, and so they often end up doing multiple trials (let car run for 4s, then 6s), which leads to a great conversation of why this is sub-optimal.

Anyway, the kids arrived at some serious insights on their own, and I’m really looking forward to our wrap up discussion on Monday.

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