What is your favorite physics lesson?
I don’t have a favorite lesson, but rather the entire Matter Unit. I like it because when I was in school, I struggled so much when it came to matter and chemistry and understanding that everything that we know is made up of these tiny particles too small to see with the naked eye, but they somehow link up to form everything the way it’s meant to be – it was very difficult to wrap my head around it. This unit explained it in much simpler terms than I was used to, and while I’ve had several chemistry and science classes in college, it made more sense to me while I was actually teaching it for the first time.
What is your favorite physics demonstration?
My favorite demonstration has been the Dry Ice Rocket from Lesson 1.4.11 Defining Kinetic Energy. It’s only worked for me once because the few other times I tried it for other classes that day, the water bottles I used didn’t have a good enough seal, so the pressure couldn’t build up, and another time I tried it, the bucket I had wasn’t deep enough for the rocket and it actually exploded all over the blacktop. I plan on trying the dry ice rocket again in a few weeks when it warms up a little more to make sure that cold weather doesn’t affect the length of time it takes for the pressure to build up.
What is your favorite physics activity?
My favorite physics activities are the ladder activities. Students really get competitive with each other and they use all of their resources to find answers to the questions so they can be the first group finished, and engagement is very high during these times. I also enjoy the scavenger hunt on the periodic table, because once again, students get competitive with each other and they force their group members to work.
What changes have you made to any of the STC-provided ideas for any of the above, in order to use in your classroom?
Most of the activities I have left the same, but there are some, such as the hovercrafts, catapults and pendulums, that instead of having the students build them, to save time, they are already put together and students use the time to perform the activities involved.
What suggestions/improvements would you implement next time you do a specific STC lesson/activity?
I still feel like I have issues finding some of the materials needed for some labs. I used the shopping website given on the STC website to find the electrodes needed for the density lab, but they were too small to actually displace the water.
What is your students’ involvement/engagement like with STC-provided activities?
Involvement and engagement is very high, even with just worksheets giving them extra practice on word problems for physics equations, most students would actively work through them and give me answers as go through the problems as a whole class.
What are your students’ favorite physics activities?
My students enjoy anything that is turned into a competition and that allows them to get up and move and interact with each other. Anytime they had to do a ladder activity, they were ready to jump right in and get it done. They also really liked any of the PhET simulations we did, and I am hoping that next year we will have an easier time getting to a computer lab so that students will be able to complete those simulations on their own as opposed to observing me doing them.
What connections to standards can you share with other teachers that you have made between your standards and STC lessons?
There are multiple standards outside of science that the curriculum matches up with, specifically math, but there are lessons that will work with social studies and a lot with reading as well.
What connections to other subjects (Math/ELA) have you made to specific STC lessons that you could share with other teachers?
There are several math connections throughout the curriculum, and some of it is math that is a little advanced and requires the use of algebra. Some of the math that was taught during STC helped students in their math classes and I heard several times that when a new concept was taught in math, students were telling their teacher that they had already learned that in physics. There is also some reading that happens, such as with Archimedes and the Golden Crown and the Webb Chiles Storm Passage. There are also plenty of Readworks.org passages that I’ve found that relate back to what we are talking about during each one of the physics units.
Anything else you’d like to share?
When I first was told that I was going to have to teach physics, there was a part of me that panicked, because science was not my strongest subject, and while I could teach it just fine, I worried about teaching something so complex. But the way the curriculum is written, it’s very easy to use and there are plenty of people within the program to help when you struggle with something as well.