Day 141: Finishing the Curriculum

We finished the curriculum! We have more practice to do, and tests, and other such stuff, but the end is in the sight.

We ended with a whimper, not a bang, by talking about neutrinos and half-lives and picking up those last little bits of what's left in modern physics. 

As I look back at the first few blog posts, I notice I used to write a lot more each day. I was at the beginning of the marathon we call a school year and not at the end. I also don't want to give away too much. Not too other teachers, or my students this year, of course, but to future readers of this blog, future students who might look here and know everything. It's a silly reason; I see lots of great physics bloggers talk about their every move in class in detail, with answers. But I shy away from telling too much.

Writing this blog has been worthwhile to me. I'm trying to think about what I'll do next year to keep reflecting on and improving my teaching.

Day 139: E = mc²

It's more of me talking, and my students asking lots of questions. They love it. I don't really know another way.

The goal was to talk about the different conservation laws for nuclear reactions: number of nucleons, charge, mass-energy.

But it opened up so many other questions, including anti-matter, black holes, and dark matter. I tried my best to answer. The conversations were rich and interesting and the questions were great, but I was the sage on the stage. 

I can't wait until they start reading about all these topics and start teaching me. I'll have to wait to the book project after the AP Exam.

Day 136: de Broglie & Bohr & How much should I be modeling this?

Today was very teacher-centric. I don't know how I feel about this. For one, this is difficult stuff to conceptualize, and for me to be there, introducing parts of it here and there and letting them try some problems about it, works better. They have some pretty strong models on the electric force and on waves that we can build on. I also feel shakier about this unit, which I abbreviate PMAM (the particle model of all matter), than any other unit this year.

I know I could make it more modeling-friendly. I could give them results to experiments and have them come up with explanations. But what those experiments look like, and what makes the data seem real rather than just words on a sheet of paper, isn't clear to me yet. 

It's okay that I'm not done with this unit. I can see the improvements I can make in previous years. It's not like this year isn't successful. The derivation of the Bohr atom went smoother this year than ever before. But there's still more to do to perfect my practice.