Weeks of January 5 & 12, 2015

We’ve almost made it to the end of the first semester! Congratulations on your accomplishments! This blog post will cover our last week before mid-term exams as well as the mid-term exam schedule, which is as follows:


These Weeks in AP Physics
On Monday we’ll tie up loose ends with angular momentum so that we can take our circular and rotational motion unit test on Tuesday. We will spend Wednesday through Friday covering the oscillatory (back-and-forth) motion of pendulums and mass-spring systems. There will be one homework associated with this. With the remainder of our time and into Monday of exam week, we’ll review a smidge by going through old tests. EXAM WEEK: Your FRQ exam will be during the first period slot, and your MC exam will be during the 2nd period slot. Both will take the full period. Please be sure to bring a calculator to both exams. For the MC exam, you will need a number two pencil.

These Weeks in  Physics
We’ll start by wrapping up our unit on energy so that we can take the unit test on Tuesday or Wednesday. This will give us some time to review for the mid-term exam, but we will also likely start our momentum unit. However, momentum will be on the final exam in June but not on this mid-term exam. EXAM WEEK: Sixth period, your exam will be in the 6th/7th period slot. Tenth period, your exam will be during the 10th period slot. No class will take an exam during our lab periods (8th/9th.) Please be sure to bring a calculator and a number two pencil to your exam.

These Weeks in Astronomy
Aaahhh!! NO!!! I can’t believe our time together is over!!! You’ve been such a great group of people to work with, and I will miss you! OK, so with our remaining days, we will travel across the universe to its deepest regions, its darkest past, and its possible futures. This is a really fun topic to end on! We may or may not have time for a unit test on the universe, but it will be incorporated proportionally into the final exam. Our exam period is 11th period. Please be sure to bring your star maps (both rectangular and circular) with nothing written on them except your name. Also you may bring a calculator, which can be helpful but isn’t absolutely necessary. Finally, please be sure to bring a number two pencil.

Cool Science of these Weeks
NASA announced this week that it’s found another clue to the “Is-there-life-on-Mars?” puzzle. The Mars Curiosity Rover (a robot that’s cruising the surface of Mars doing research that it beams back to Earth) has detected regular bursts of methane gas coming out of a rock formation. In addition, Curiosity found organic molecules in that rock. Organic molecules, as you may recall from chemistry, are necessary for life as we know it, and methane is an excretory product of many forms of life. This doesn’t mean there’s necessarily life on Mars; methane and organic compounds can exist in the absence of life. However, their presence is also indicative that life on Mars may be present now or may have been present in the past. We do know that billions of years ago there was flowing water on Mars that was at the right temperature, salinity, and pH for a “primordial soup,” such as the one scientists speculate started life on Earth. Curiosity continues to collect data, so more answers could be coming down the line.

The Mars Curiosity rover takes a selfie in front of Olympus Mons, a giant mountain on Mars. (No, that’s not a desert on Earth. That’s MARS!!!)


Week of December 15, 2014

This is our last week of school before winter break. When we come back on January 5, we will have one week and one day before exams. 

This Week in AP Physics
We will investigate angular kinematics and angular dynamics by looking at angular displacement, angular velocity, angular acceleration caused by unbalanced external torque, moment of inertia, and angular momentum. We’ll do homeworks 3 & 4 and hopefully take our test on Friday.

This Week in Physics
On Monday we will take a quiz over the work-energy theorem as covered in assignment 2. Podcasts 5-11 will help you study. For Monday also please take notes on Podcast 12 – Conservation of EnergyPodcast 13 – Conservation of Energy Sample Problem 1, and Podcast 14 – Conservation of Energy Sample Problem 2. We will go over these and do assignment 3 on Tuesday-Wednesday. Our next topic, power, is a quick one. We’ll take notes on this in class and do a very short assignment 4. Our unit test will be Friday.

This Week in Astronomy
We will finish our planet presentations on Monday and then explore asteroids, comets, and meteoroids/meteors/meteorites. Expect our solar system unit test on Wednesday or Thursday. Remember that your Unit 3 – Outdoor Lab is due on Friday. Up next: I will give you nothing short of the universe, dears!

Cool Science of the Week
In physics we’ve been talking a lot about energy. One way that energy plays into our daily lives is when it takes the form of electrical energy, and this can be a hot button political and economic issue. This week Bloomberg (a source of business, financial, and economic news) announced that the Deutsche (German) Bank has predicted that by 2016, thanks to technological innovations, solar energy will be cheaper to produce than fossil fuel-based energy in thirty-six of our fifty states (even if the solar industry suffers reduced tax credits.) Wow! This is a good example of how science, ethics, and politics can collide. How will this affect the environment? How do you think the oil industry will respond? How will this change our economy and affect jobs, such as the many coal mining jobs in southeastern Ohio? If you were a politician, what role would you take to help or hinder the expansion of solar power in the US? What if the oil industry or the solar industry made big campaign contributions to you? Would that change your votes on the issue? Interesting questions! Science matters!
P.S. Ohio makes the list as one of the 36 states!

Week of December 8, 2014

This Week in AP Physics
We will continue to explore circular and rotational motion with notes and assignments as announced. There are two experiments we will do for this unit. One will require a formal lab report, as announced. Be aware that the due date for the impulse-momentum unit lab report has been extended.

This Week in Physics
We will continue to debrief the podcasts and assignments from last week. When announced, please take notes on Podcast 7 – Work-Energy Theorem, Podcast 8 – Work-Energy Theorem Sample Problem 1Podcast 9 – Work-Energy Theorem Sample Problem 2Podcast 10 – Work-Energy Theorem Sample Problem 3, and Podcast 11 – Work-Energy Theorem Sample Problem 4. Remember to ,keep your “personal learning goal” in mind for the energy unit. Your paragraph will be due the day after we take the unit test.

This Week in Astronomy
We will complete our planetary research projects and presentations. Expect the unit test early next week.

Cool Science of the Week
Did you know that the flu vaccine doesn’t always work? (I might sort of know this already…) The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced this week that the 2014 flu vaccine is not as effective as hoped because the flu virus has mutated. This got me to thinking about how flu vaccines work. Unlike vaccines for illnesses like mumps or polio, whose viruses are always the same, we’re never sure which flu virus strains will be prominent from one year to the next. Every year scientists predict which strains of flu are likely to be most prevalent in the coming year, and they create that year’s flu vaccine based on those predictions. Sometimes their predictions are right, and sometimes they’re not right, and sometimes they’re neither right nor wrong, because sometimes, as it did this year, a prominent strain of flu mutates enough that the vaccine can’t provide protection from it.

A computer generated image of the influenza virus.