Week of March 30, 2015

Spring break starts this Friday! We also have a shortened bell schedule due to Thursday’s spirit assembly, so let’s work hard during the time that we have. 🙂

This Week in AP Physics
On Monday we’ll go over circuits that contain both resistors and capacitors so that we can do homework 3 for Tuesday. After going over homework 3 we’ll begin our study of magnetism.

This Week in Physics
The 10th period class will take the Coulomb’s law quiz on Monday. All classes should take notes on Podcast 4 – Electric Fields part 1 and Podcast 5 – Electric Fields part 2 by Monday. This week we will do assignment 3 followed by a quiz over electric fields the next day. Also for the day that we do the quiz on electric fields, please take notes on Podcast 6 – Electric Potential Energy and Podcast 7 – Electric Potential Energy Examples. We’ll most likely finish the week by doing assignment 4. When we come back from break we’ll perform a very cool experiment and then test this unit.

This Week in Astronomy
We will continue to study the phases of the moon with notes and a final reinforcing activity. Podcast 2 – Lunar Phases and their Appearances and Podcast 3 – The Phases and their Timings will support your studies. We’ll round* out the week by looking at lunar geology (which I think should be called lunology.) Ideally we’ll take the unit test on Thursday. (Even though we have shortened periods. We should still be OK.) For the day of the test, please do the unit 3 homework. (Remember you don’t have to print it. Just write the answers on notebook paper.) Finally, be sure to continue working on your long-term outdoor lab for unit 2, which is due on April 13. (Be careful! Sometimes people will do the unit 3 lab, but it is the unit 2 lab that is due on April 13.)
* a pun! how awesome!

Cool Science of the Week
Traveling to some warm, sunny beach over spring break? Then why not check out which SHARKS have been swimming near your beach? (This is in no way passive aggressive on my part. 🙂 ) This cool website allows you to track sharks that have been tagged by scientists.
Sharks

Week of March 23, 2015

Welcome to the start of fourth quarter! Time flies!

This Week in AP Physics
We will spend the week working through our unit on electric circuits, although we will have another testing disruption on Tuesday when we have to take our “end-of-course” test as required by state law. During the remainder of our time we will move as far as possible through our notes, homework, and practice problems with electric circuits.

This Week in Physics
We will continue to explore our unit on electrostatics by doing assignment 1 on Monday. The day after we complete that assignment, we will take a quiz over the nature of charge and methods of charging. Also for that day, please take notes on Podcast 3 – Electric Force. We will go over this podcast and do assignment 2, followed by a quiz as announced. When announced, please take notes on Podcast 4 – Electric Fields part 1 and Podcast 5 – Electric Fields part 2.

This Week in Astronomy
We will continue our exploration of the moon by collecting data and analyzing it for patterns to form a model for the phases of the moon. Expect a quiz, as announced. The following podcasts will support your learning: Podcast 1 – Introduction and Orbit and Pocast 2 – Lunar Phases and their Appearances. In addition, this website is excellent: Lunar Phases Interactive.

Cool Science of the Week
It’s SPRING!!!!! After this frigid winter, it’s fantastic to know that warm weather is really on the way. Today (Friday, March 20) marks the vernal equinox, considered to be the first day of spring. At exactly 6:45 pm Earth will be aligned just right with the sun so that the sun is directly over Earth’s equator. Because Earth moves so fast, a short time later the sun will be north of the equator, marking the beginning of the time when the sun’s rays become more direct for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Yay for more direct sunlight!!! Bring it ON!
What’s also fantastic and amazingly coincidental is that today also marks two OTHER astronomical phenomena: a supermoon AND a total eclipse! A supermoon occurs when the moon is at perigee, its closest orbital point. When the moon is so close to Earth, we experience such things as stronger tides, although to the ordinary observer the moon won’t look any different.* It especially won’t look any different tonight because the moon is in its new moon phase, the phase in which it’s between us and the sun. That means that the side facing us is not illuminated and is up during the daytime…so we don’t see the moon at all. HOWEVER, we will see its silhouette as it crosses in front of the sun to produce a total eclipse. So will you  get to see the eclipse? Not unless you hurry and get yourself to the North Atlantic. The path under which people see a total eclipse, called the path of totality, is very small (less than 1% of Earth’s surface.) People in Europe and Greenland are outside of the path of totality but will, however, see a partial eclipse. That’s another story.

*Why does the moon sometimes appear to be very large? It’s an optical illusion. When the moon is low in the sky and is behind distant objects, such as trees, that our brain knows are big, we interpret the moon as being enormous. However, if you measure it with your finger when it appears big and then remeasure later in the night when it’s higher in the sky, you’ll find it’s the same size.

Week of March 16, 2015

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and welcome to OGT testing week! This week means that we have SIGNIFICANTLY (up to 48%) less time together due to late start for juniors and seniors and a shortened daily bell schedule. Be ready to work in a very concentrated way in class.

This Week in AP Physics
Electrostatics homework 4 is due on Monday. My fingers are crossed that we’ll also be able to start electric circuits notes on that day. The electrostatics test is on Wednesday, your electric fields lab report is due on Friday (hardcopy at the start of class, upload to TurnItIn.com by 3:00), and we’ll really get into electric circuits on Friday. ALSO we are losing a day next Tuesday, March 24, because we have to do the end-of-course testing required by the state. That week the chorale will not be here on Thursday and Friday, so if you are in chorale, please plan ahead with me so that you don’t get behind.

This Week in Physics
We will begin the electrostatics unit. For our first day of class together this week (whichever day that is for your class period,) please take notes on the following podcasts: Podcast 1 – Introduction to Charge and Podcast 2 – Conductors, Insulators, and Charging. We will go over these in class and do some experimentation with creating electrostatic charge, and then we will do assignment 1. When we finish assignment 1, plan for a quiz the following day and also take notes on Podcast 3 – Electric Force. That oughta do it for the week.

This Week in Astronomy
On Monday we will tie up a few loose ends with the sun unit and will then start to take a look at the moon. We don’t see each other on Tuesday or Thursday, so our sun unit test will be on Wednesday. On Wednesday your Unit 2 – Homework Questions are due, as well. We’ll spend the rest of our time researching the appearance and visibility times of the moon through one lunar cycle. Now that your unit 1 outdoor lab is done, you’re ready for the unit 2 outdoor lab. This lab requires multiple observations made at the same time of day many days apart. You’ll need to start NOW in order to finish on time. It is due on Friday, April 17.

Cool Science of the Week
It’s going to RAIN this week..not snow, but rain! That’s oddly awesome! A lot of people (myself included) love the smell of rain, but have you ever wondered, “Why does rain smell?” I mean, it’s just water, right? Well, researchers at MIT may have figured out the answer to the question. Apparently as raindrops hit soil, small amounts of gas hovering above the soil get sort of smashed into the rain drop, where they then bubble out (like a in a glass of pop.) This disperses into the air the scent-filled layer of gas that usually just sits on the soil. Cool!Aerosol generation after drop impingement on porous media is a three-step process, consisting of bubble formation, bubble growth, and bubble bursting.

In the top row you can see the raindrop colliding and then forming bubbles. In the bottom row you can see the bubbles bursting.

Week of March 9, 2015

We’re looking forward to a WARMER week with a more NORMAL bell schedule now that mid-year PARCC tests are done. Awesome! The following week of March 16, however, brings us right back to another special bell schedule due to OGT testing week. We’re going to have to focus hard this week, as some of you will barely see me during OGT week. That week also marks the end of the third quarter. Since we will barely be together during that last week of the quarter, be sure to make time to see me if you have any outstanding work to do.

This Week in AP Physics
On Monday we will finish going over electric fields and will do our modified demo version of the electric fields lab. A full lab report will be due for this lab on Wednesday, March 18 (hardcopy due at the start of class, upload to TurnItIn.com by 3:00.) Homework 2 will be due on Tuesday of this week (March 10) when we will also begin covering electric potential. This will lead us into homework 3, capacitors, homework 4, and a test. The test will likely be on Monday or Wednesday of next week (no class on Tuesday), but we may be able to get it in this Friday. Finally, remember that our comprehensive “end-of-course” testing required by the state will take place on Tuesday, March 24.

This Week in Physics
Depending on which period you have physics, your circular motion unit test will be on Monday or Tuesday. We will then spend some time getting geared up for our comprehensive “end-of-course” testing required by the state, which will take place this Friday, March 13. We will also begin electrostatics this week. For those of you writing the formal lab report on circular motion, please turn it in at the start of class on Tuesday (even if we have our test that day) and upload it to TurnItIn.com by 3:00 of that day.

This Week in Astronomy
On Monday we’ll be in the planetarium viewing the path of the sun at different latitudes at different times of year. Then we’ll analyze data to answer the question, “Why does the sun’s position change throughout the year?” We’ll spend the remainder of this week doing activities to prepare us for the sun unit test by Friday. Then we’re off to the moon! Remember that every lecture is included in the podcast for this unit, so if you’ve been absent or want to review, you can use that resource. Also remember that on the day of the test, the Unit 2 – Homework Questions are due as a review. Finally, remember to keep working on your first outdoor lab, which is due this Friday, March 13. (See the blog entry from February 23 for details.)

Cool Science of the Week
In physics we’ve talked a lot about planetary and satellite orbits. What happens to old satellites and rockets that are now “space junk?” There are a lot of them out there cluttering up the region above Earth, and they keep colliding with each other, creating massive amounts of shrapnel. If you’ve seen the movie Gravity, you know that the 300,000 pieces of broken satellite and rocket parts floating around in outer space are truly an issue. Eventually there could be enough junk out there that we won’t be able to safely replace old satellites with new ones nor even consider launching ourselves into the universe. How are we going to clean things up?