Day 11

Block 4,1 (Physics 1,2)

I made wee error today and it really was a rookie error. I forgot that students almost NEVER remember how to calculate the slope and the y intercept of a line given a set of data. I am glad I had them use wolfram alpha to help the recall what the terms even mean, but today was a great way for me to check understanding.

We began by doing a graphing story. If you have not checked these out, they are another great tool from Dan Meyer.

We did the first one with the clock and it was interesting because the students did not agree with the result. Rather than trying to convince them, I just went with it, and they actually convinced me that the graphed solution offered may not be the best answer. I will take a closer look at it at my leisure to verify results.

We then looked at the “Distance from the Bench” video which actually led to an interesting discussion about how when we look at the graph of the data we can criticize someone’s weight-lifting technique based on the non-steady slope (and of course the fact that they get pinned by the bar) even in the first few reps.

they loved this shot:

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 11.00.54 AM


I also realized that for AP Physics it would be interesting to have AP kids graph a few of these and discuss what the derivatives and integrals could tell us about things like impulse, acceleration, work, etc.


Next I had them do some basic graphing and slope-intercept calculations. I realized that over half my students had forgotten basic algebra I even though they “knew” what the slope and the intercept were.

We will be using the white boards problems next week and I will expect them to explain the following about their graphs:

  • physical model
  • math model
  • independent and dependent variables
  • units of: slope, intercept, independent variable, dependent variable
  • physical interpretation of slope and intercept

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