Week of April 8, 2013


This week in physics: On Monday we’ll have an open-notes quiz over podcasts 3 & 4 from the electric circuits unit. (These were announced for the Thursday before break, but the assemblies got in our way. Hopefully you already have the notes and can veg over break. :)) After the quiz, we’ll debrief the podcasts to answer any questions you may have, and then we’ll work together on assignment 2 followed by a formal quiz the day after we finish the assignment. The next fantastic thing we’ll do is another mini-lab in which we’ll uncover the secrets of a second type of circuit. The day after you do this lab, we’ll have another open-notes podcast quiz over Electric Circuits Podcast 5 and Electric Circuits Podcast 6. Then we’ll follow the same pattern (debrief, assignment, formal quiz.) It’s entirely likely that some of this will spill elegantly into next week.

This week in astronomyWe’ll study one of the most fantastic phenomena in astronomy, eclipses, by creating some conceptual building blocks with notes and activities on Monday. You’ll have to put some puzzle pieces together to figure out how eclipses work, so it should be good fun. We’ll have a quiz on Tuesday or Wednesday over this introductory material. Then we’ll turn our attention specifically to solar eclipses by first doing a “jigsaw” in which you’ll each become an expert on one type of eclipse and then team up to share your expertise to solve problems. Notes and a second project will follow. If we finish the topic by Thursday, you’ll take a quiz over solar eclipses on Friday. Next week we’ll examine lunar eclipses, and it’s possible we’ll test by the end of next week. Like eclipses themselves, this unit is short-lived!

Cool Science of the Week: I’m fairly jazzed about this beautiful, although obnoxiously-narrated, montage of NASA footage of the surface of the sun. Seen through many different filters, the footage allows us a glimpse of various types of radiation to illuminate the activity along the sun’s surface. Fantastic! SUN

Week of March 25, 2013

We’re almost to spring break, and it’s a four day week!

This week in physics: We will continue our exploration of electric circuits with an open-note quiz over Electric Circuits Podcast 2 – Resistance and Ohm’s Law on Monday, so be sure to take good notes on it.** Following the quiz we will debrief the podcast and then work together on assignment 1 in class on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday we will take a quiz over the learning goals associated with podcasts 1 & 2 and assignment 1. Then we will do another virtual lab in which we’ll use a pHET sim to analyze the properties of a special kind of circuit. We’ll name it when we know it, so enjoy the mystery! Podcasts 3 & 4 may be due on Thursday (with open-notes quiz) depending on our rate of progress.

** Chorale students: Obviously you may not have Internet access this weekend. Please watch the podcast for TUESDAY when you will have a make-up podcast quiz.

This week in astronomy: For Monday you should take notes on Moon Podcast 2 – Lunar Phases and their Appearances and Moon Podcast 3 – The Phases and their Timings because we will have an open-notes quiz over these podcasts at the start of class on Monday. We will complete our unit on the moon by taking a pretty big quiz on the phases (alignments, appearances, and visibility times) on Tuesday. On Monday and Tuesday we will also explore the lunar geography and theories on the formation of the moon to prepare us for a test on Wednesday. On Thursday we have shortened periods due to the spirit assembly and talent show, so we will do some fun enrichment activities. Alright! After break, our lives will take a darker turn when we begin our study of eclipses.

Cool Science of the Week: It’s about time that we talk about the biggest news in modern physics: the discovery of the Higgs Boson. If the universe is as we think it to be in our “Standard Model,” there must be a particle called the Higgs Boson. However, there was a problem with the Standard Model: No one could find the particle…until this past summer. Here’s a nice video that helps explain the discovery, which marked a pivotal moment in the history of physics and will likely result in the Nobel Prize for the CERN team that made the discovery.

Week of March 18, 2013

Welcome to the first week of the 4th quarter! Soon-to-be graduates, this is your last quarter of high school!

This week in physics: We will start off the week with the unit 6 test.* That means that your personal learning goal research paragraph on a topic related to circular motion and/or gravitation is due to be uploaded to TurnItIn.com by 3:00 PM on Tuesday. The fun continues, as the hardcopy of your Centripetal Force Lab report is due at the start of your class period on Wednesday and must be uploaded to TurnItIn.com by Friday at 3:00 PM. Remember also to write using Google Drive and share your document with me at alhsgb@alstudent.org by the same deadline. (Note: I do not use that address for emails.) IMPORTANT: As discussed in class, I’ve revised the scoring rubric for our lab reports. Here are two important documents you should use while writing: Lab Report Writing Guide and Lab Report Rubric. ONTO NEW STUFF! 🙂 We are beginning unit 8 on electric circuits, which is a LOT of fun. We’ll have a surprisingly hard challenge to solve on Monday involving creating a circuit. It’s one of my favorite activities of the year, and I think you’ll have fun with it! Electric Circuits Podcast 1 – Circuits and Current is due for Tuesday, and we will have a quiz over it at the start of class, so please come prepared. As the week progresses we’ll do some virtual labs using circuit simulators. Electric Circuits Podcast 2 – Resistance and Ohm’s Law will be due as announced in class (followed by a quiz), and assignment 1 will follow. Full week! 🙂
*** For those of you on the chorale field trip, please visit this website to answer questions based on the following three simulations:
1.) Ohm’s Law
2.) Resistance
3.) Battery-Resistor Circuit
AND watch/take notes on Electric Circuits Podcast 2 – Resistance and Ohm’s Law AND do assignment 1.

*6th period, you will race your mousetrap cars since you already took the test. A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

This week in astronomy: We will take a quiz over the first set of learning goals, which is covered in Moon Podcast 1 – Introduction and Orbit. Then we’ll use models to figure out how the phases of the moon work in relation to the positions of the Earth, the moon, and the sun, and we’ll analyze rise/set data to determine the visibility periods for each phase. This will take all week, and it will be awesome. Moon Podcast 2 – Lunar Phases and their Appearances and Moon Podcast 3 – The Phases and their Timings will support your work, as will Lunar Phases Interactive. However, don’t look at these before we do them in class, or it will spoil all the fun. Finally, those outdoor labs are still haunting us. Look at the image below and feel the emotion of my tears. I have full confidence that we can get these done by the week we return from spring break, though. The new due date for BOTH the Astronomy Unit 1 – Outdoor Lab and the Astronomy Unit 2 – Outdoor Lab is Tuesday, April 9. The unit 2 one is spread out over a couple of weeks, and you need to take measurements at the same time of day, so get moving asap. Four days in the coming week should have some sun, so don’t delay.

Cool Science of the Week: So this is big news. I mean BIG news. Like, so big that it almost could be, like, the BIGGEST kind of news…and yet it’s not quite the biggest kind of news. Still, it’s BIG. Really, REALLY BIG.

…so getting on with it then…

The NASA Curiosity Rover that’s been robotically joyriding all over the surface of Mars taking pretty pictures and running chemical analyses of rocks has found…(here’s what it’s found get excited)…evidence that Mars may have sustained life. WHOALIKEWHAT? Here’s the scoop: All of the chemical elements required by living organisms and running, potable water were present on Mars. Now, it’s not like they found fossils, but the fact that it is truly possible that Mars could have supported life is, like, BIG science news. I mean, like, “I’m a scientist and this is me freaking out” big.

Pop quiz: Which one is a real robot?

P.S. Don’t forget to try to find the comet if there’s a timely break in the clouds!

Week of March 11, 2013

Welcome to OGT week! Due to our wacky schedule, your assignments will vary by class, so this week’s blog is organized by period rather than subject. Physics is listed first.

Note to ALL physics classes: 1.) Your research paragraphs about your personal learning goals for unit 6 are due on Monday, March 18 by 3:00. Please upload them to TurnItIn.com by the deadline. I can’t wait to read them! 🙂 2.) Your centripetal force lab reports are due on Wednesday, March 20 at the start of your class period. Uploads to TurnItIn.com are due by Friday, March 22 at 3:00.

This week in 3rd period physics: In our double period on Monday, we’ll do assignment 2 followed by a mini-lab in which we’ll analyze planetary orbits using an online gravity simulator. In our double period on Wednesday we will tie up loose ends in preparation to take the unit 6 test next Monday. On Wednesday we may also do some enrichment experiments with momentum. Next week we jump off of the mechanics branch of physics and land on the electricity branch. FUN!

This week in 6th period physics: On Monday we will take a quiz over the learning goals related to circular motion. We’ll also do assignment 2 followed by a mini-lab in which we’ll analyze planetary orbits using an online gravity simulator. On Wednesday we’ll take the unit 6 test. Then it’s off to the races as we engage in a mini-engineering challenge: mousetrap cars! Your job will be to design a vehicle powered only by the elastic potential energy in a mousetrap. Whoever’s car goes the farthest wins excessive amounts of glory. Next week we enter a totally new topic: electricity!

This week in 11th period physics: We will barely see each other! On Tuesday we only meet for 38 minutes, during which we’ll finish discussing assignment 2, which you completed for Friday, and we’ll spend a little more time examining gravity, planetary orbits, and practicing calculations. With such limited time, it will be very helpful if you rewatch Podcast 5 – Gravity and Podcast 6 – Center of Mass, Gravity, and Planetary Orbits before class on Tuesday. We again have a single period on Friday, which is when we’ll tie up loose ends to prepare us to take the unit 6 test next Monday. Next week we get to start one of my super favorite topics ever: electric circuits!

This week in 2nd period astronomy: We go to the moon! We will collect and analyze lots of data about the appearance and visibility times of the moon throughout the coming month in order to develop a model for the motion of the moon. This will continue into next week, but FIRST, you have an exciting assignment! For class on WEDNESDAY, please view and take notes on Moon Podcast 1 – Introduction and Orbit. (We will have covered some of it on Monday, but be sure to take notes from the podcast on the rest of the material. We’ll move quickly past it on Wednesday, so you’ll need to be prepared.) NOTE: Oy, these outdoor labs! Clouds remain in the forecast non-stop at night for the next week, so the Astronomy Unit 1 – Outdoor Lab due date is again delayed, this time until March 22nd. (This is getting old!)  HOWEVER, we should have a lot of sun during the days, so you absolutely SHOULD start Astronomy Unit 2 – Outdoor Lab as soon as possible. The observations are spaced out, so you will need at least two weeks to complete it. It will be due the second day we return from spring break.

This week in 10th period astronomy: Everything from 2nd period astronomy applies except that the podcast notes are due on FRIDAY, which is the second time we’ll meet next week.

Cool science of the week: As you may know, privately-owned companies have entered the space race and are the likely sources of outward-bound transportation for humanity of the future. One of these private corporations plans to send a married couple on a 501 day trip in a tiny spaceship to orbit Mars in 2018…and they’re taking applications! (Moms? Dads? Interested?) Click here for a good article about this “Lewis and Clark” opportunity. Click the picture if you’d like to find out about the, um, grosser aspects of such a trip. (ick) Thank you, Ben, for reminding me of this news story!


In other Mars news, this is cool: Scientists using radar are mapping underground Martian riverbeds and islands that were buried long ago by lava. That’s not cool. That’s hot!


Week of March 4, 2013

There are just two weeks left to the quarter, so buckle down and keep moving forward! 🙂

This week in physics: We will continue to explore circular motion as we do assignment 1 followed by a quiz. Podcasts 1-4 from Unit 6 will help you review. Then we will set up an experiment to test the effect of changing radius or period on circular kinematics and dynamics variables. (The lab report for this will be due on Wednesday, March 20th with an upload required to TurnItIn.com by March 22 at 3:00. Mark those planners! ;)) For Thursday please take notes on Circular Motion Podcast 5 – Gravity and Circular Motion Podcast 6 – Center of Mass, Gravity, and Planetary Orbits. We will quickly jump into assignment 2. The test for this unit will likely be Monday/Tuesday of next week. (OGT week schedule. We will test when your class meets.)

This week in astronomy: We will quiz over content standards 1-4 on Monday (10th period) or Tuesday (2nd period) and then begin to relate the annual position of our sun to solar radiation and climate by analyzing radiation and climate data from satellite and weather sources. By Friday expect a test over this unit. Remember that the Unit 2 Podcast – The Ecliptic and its Implications contains most of the information you need for this test. Please note: Again, the weather forecast calls for unending clouds at night, so, by necessity, we’re extending the due date for the Unit 1 – Outdoor Lab by another week to March 11. Here’s hoping we get a break and can stick with that date! In addition, it’s time to announce the Unit 2 – Outdoor Lab! This requires many days of sunshine. Start now. I have no doubt that it will be reasonable to complete this by March 28, the day before spring break. Better take a look at the lab now and start planning your data collection strategy.

Cool Science of the Week: Scientists may have hit on a breakthrough in acne treatment. It seems that a certain probiotic is present in higher concentrations on the skin of people without acne compared to people with prevalent acne. Could use of this probiotic be beneficial? Clearly this needs further study, but the results are promising!