In Part 1 of this unit, students will learn about data collection, graphing skills (both by hand and computer aided [Desmos]), and the fundamental mathematical patterns of the course: horizontal line, proportional, linear, quadratic, and inverse. Students perform several experiments, each targeting a different pattern and build the mathematical models of physical phenomena. During each experiment, students start with an uninformed wild guess, then through inquiry and making sense through group consensus, can make an accurate data informed prediction.
Students are confronted with a scenario of a student who is texting and driving in the school parking lot and they are tasked to determine the effect of various parameters to see if a student will collide with a pedestrian. Students must begin by breaking the scenario down into more manageable parts to determine what must be studied about the situation. Through a series of labs and activities, students learn how to model and predict situations with constant velocity and acceleration. Then, coding a spreadsheet, students model the complex situation of a texting driver, reacting, and braking during a potentially hazardous situation to create an evidence-based argument.
In order to contextualize the Energy unit, students are tasked to engineer a bungee cord that will optimize the enjoyment of a doll’s bungee jump. To do this, students first develop the mathematical patterns through inquiry on gravitational energy, kinetic energy, and elastic energy. Once the patterns have been established, students further build on their spreadsheet coding skills, in order to use computational thinking to create a program that will help predict the length of bungee cord necessary for a variety of situations.
This unit is centered on designing a shoe for a customer. Students decide on a particular type of shoe that they want to design and utilize ideas of force, impulse, and friction to meet the needs of a particular customer. Force plates are used study the relationship between force, time, and impulse to allow students to get the mathematical models that allow them to make data informed decisions about their shoe design.
The phenomenon that launches this unit is a cell phone call to a student in the class, where the caller on speaker phone asks “How are you hearing me?”. Over the course of the unit, students discover the patterns with waves. Then use that understanding to explain ultrasound medical imagining technology and ultimately how cell phones work. Cell phone communication is operationalized by the engineering challenge of communicating a three letter signal by first coding a spreadsheet to digitize the signal in binary (ASCII), then transmit the digital signal using light and sound (AM and FM), then receive and decode the signal to complete the communication. This project models the sending and receiving of a text message.
This unit is loaded with phenomena. The real world task of being a member of Oregon's Energy Commission that must create a 50-Year Energy Plan propels students through a learning arc that includes electricity, magnetism, power production, and climate science. After the Request for a 50-Year Energy Plan students jigsaw energy sources and power production. They need to understand the basic physics of how generators works leads us to build and explore motors (starting with speakers which also connect to the Waves & Technology unit) and inefficient generators (electric guitars). The need for large amounts of energy and efficient generators motivates us to engineer wind turbines and optimize solar cells for a local facilities use. Creating the rubric to evaluate large scale power production launches us into climate science. With all the learning of the unit students and many real world constraints student finally complete, compare, and evaluate their 50-Year Energy Plan.
By using the hook of Halley’s comet, dark matter, and dark energy students data mine Newton’s Law of Universal Gravity and build an and evaluate other arguments for the Big Bang.
This unit launches with a slow-motion video of a speaker as it plays music. In the previous unit, students developed a model of sound. This unit allows students to investigate the cause of a speaker’s vibration in addition to the effect.
Students dissect speakers to explore the inner workings, and engineer homemade cup speakers to manipulate the parts of the speaker. They identify that most speakers have the same parts–a magnet, a coil of wire, and a membrane. Students investigate each of these parts to figure out how they work together in the speaker system. Along the way, students manipulate the components (e.g. changing the strength of the magnet, number of coils, direction of current) to see how this technology can be modified and applied to a variety of contexts, like MagLev trains, junkyard magnets, and electric motors.
In this activity about light and perception, learners discover how a flash of light can create a lingering image called an "afterimage" on the retina of the eye. Learners will be surprised when they continue to see an image of a bright object after staring at it and looking away. Use this activity to introduce learners to principles of optics and perception as well as to explain why the full moon often appears larger when it is on the horizon than when it is overhead. This lesson guide also includes a few extensions like how to take "afterimage photographs."
In this demonstration, amaze learners by performing simple tricks using mirrors. These tricks take advantage of how a mirror can reflect your right side so it appears to be your left side. To make the effect more dramatic, cover the mirror with a cloth, climb onto the table, straddle the mirror, and then drop the cloth as you appear to "take off." This resource contains information about how this trick was applied during the making of the movie "Star Wars."
In this simple exploration, a coiled phone cord slows the motion of a wave so you can see how a single pulse travels and what happens when two traveling wave pulses meet in the middle.
This webpage from Exploratorium provides an activity that demonstrates the Bernoulli principle with readily available materials. In this activity a table tennis ball is levitated in a stream of air from a vacuum cleaner. The site provides an explanation of what happens, asks questions about the activity, and also describes applications to flight. This activity is part of Exploratorium's Science Snacks series.
In this quick and simple activity, learners explore how the distribution of the mass of an object determines the position of its center of gravity, its angular momentum, and your ability to balance it. Learners discover it is easier to balance a wooden dowel on the tip of their fingers when a lump of clay is near the top of the stick. Use this activity to introduce learners to rotational inertia.
CK-12 Basic Physics - Second Edition updates CK-12 Basic Physics and is intended to be used as one small part of a multifaceted strategy to teach physics conceptually and mathematically.
In this optics activity, learners discover that when they rotate a special black and white pattern called a Benham's Disk, it produces the illusion of colored rings. Learners experiment with the speed of rotation and direction of rotation to observe varying patterns. Use this activity to explain to learners how our eyes detect color and how different color receptors in the eye respond at different rates.
Demonstrate the Bernoulli Principle using simple materials on a small or large scale. This resource includes two activities that allow learners to experience the Bernoulli Principle, in which an object is suspended in air by blowing down on it. Use this activity to explain how atomizers work and why windows are sometimes sucked out of their frames as two trains rush past each other.
In this activity, a spinning bicycle wheel resists efforts to tilt it and point the axle in a new direction. Learners use the bicycle wheel like a giant gyroscope to explore angular momentum and torque. Learners can participate in the assembly of the Bicycle Wheel Gyro or use a preassembled unit to explore these concepts and go for an unexpected spin!
This activity provides instructions for using a flashlight and aquarium (or other container of water) to explain why the sky is blue and sunsets are red. When the white light from the sun shines through the earth's atmosphere, it collides with gas molecules with the blue light scattering more than the other colors, leaving a dominant yellow-orange hue to the transmitted light. The scattered light makes the sky blue; the transmitted light makes the sunset reddish orange. The section entitled What's Going On? explains this phenomena.