Week of May 2, 2016

This Week in AP Physics
This is it! Study hard and, above all, relax and think positive thoughts. You’ve worked hard all year. Go in with confidence! 🙂AP Test Schedule

This Week in Physics
We will finish our unit on electric circuits by completing assignment 4 and will take the unit 8 test by the end of the week.

Cool Science of the Week
Earth Day was this past weekend, and to celebrate, the New York Times shared a story about the world’s oldest tree. Now, you may have heard of the sequoia trees in California’s Sequoia National Park. They’re famous for being very, very tall and extremely old, up to about 2700 years old! Amazing, right? Well, those trees are mere youngsters compared to the world’s true oldest tree, Methuselah, which is 4847 years old. Stop and think about that. That’s 3000 B.C., the Bronze Age. Stonehenge was just beginning to be constructed, and Mesopotamia and Egypt were just emerging as major civilizations. And Methuselah was born. Methuselah is a bristlecone pine that lives in Inyo National Forest in California. Park rangers will not disclose which tree Methuselah is in order to protect it from vandals and over-eager scientists. However, if you go to Inyo, you’re sure to see many trees that are many thousands of years old. Very cool.

This image is not Methuselah but is a different bristlecone pine in Inyo National Forest, California.

Week of April 25, 2016

This Week in AP Physics
We’re getting close! Six more class days until the tests, which take place next Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. (See partial schedule below.) This week we will wrap things up and tie them with a bow! Your unit 16 packet is due at the start of class on Monday. We’ll spend the rest of the week on optics. Please remember the after school study sessions, and you’re welcome to come in more often, as well. 🙂 Finally, I’ve mentioned this before, but you may want to check out Learnerator. It has a selection of multiple choice practice problems, most of which you can access for free. Free is good!
AP Test Schedule

This Week in Physics
(If you are in 6th period, please disregard the dates in this blog entry. I will direct you in class to relevant assignments.) On Monday we will complete assignment 3 from our electric circuits unit and will quiz on parallel circuits and the differences between parallel and series circuits on Tuesday. Next we will explore compound circuits with our fourth and final virtual lab and assignment 4. Expect the unit 8 test later in the week or early next week.

Cool Science of the Week
They’re coming! As the ground warms up (specifically, to at least 64 degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of eight inches), the (very, very harmless) seventeen year cicadas will emerge ready to make some NOISE! These interesting insects lay their eggs underground**, and seventeen years later the babies are born. When the young come to the surface, they attach themselves to trees, where they molt and then fly away to seek adventure. You may find their exoskeletons around town at places where their broods haven’t been destroyed by development in the past seventeen years, so if your neighborhood is more than seventeen years old, you’re in for some fun! It truly is a rare occurrence, and while they may be loud, they’re interesting!
(**Correction: They lay their eggs in tree branches. When the eggs hatch, the critters then crawl underground to develop over seventeen years.)
2013 Finneytown Cicada

The cicadas emerge from their exoskeletons white and soft (above) but quickly mature into their hardier adult selves (below.)

Don’t be alarmed if you find their discarded exoskeletons on trees or the ground. They’re harmless and interesting!

Last year I found a cicada exoskeleton on one of my trees. It had emerged a year early, which can happen when ecosystems are destabilized by climate or mechanical means. I felt sorry for the little guy, missing the whole party that’s happening this year!

Week of April 18, 2016

Greetings! As you know, we have limited time together this week due to state testing. Please be sure to know the special schedule so that you know where to be when.

This Week in AP Physics
We will tie up loose ends with wave motion and sound and will then begin optics. Our optics labs won’t likely happen until next week, though, so during our brief time together, we’ll mostly do notes. Expect a very small amount of problems as homework due either Friday or over the weekend. Other reminders:
** Review sessions run Monday 3:00-3:45 pm, Tuesday 7:45-11:00 am, and Thursday 3:00-4:30 pm. (They aren’t mandatory, but they sure are awesome!)
** The Units 11/12 test is due on Friday, April 22nd.
** The Unit 16 packet is due next Monday, April 25th.
** Make your lives easier by reviewing half a unit per day starting last week. 🙂
** Finally, if you’re still in the market for a review book, you may want to check out these ratings. Not all review books are as good as others, and some are certainly not yet aligned to the new curriculum, regardless of what their covers say. Caveat emptor!

This Week in Physics
We will continue to explore electric circuits, which is SO.MUCH.FUN! We will finish two more virtual labs and will do two more assignments. For the day after we finish virtual lab 3, please take notes on  Podcast 5 – Parallel Circuits and Podcast 6 – Parallel Circuits Sample Problem. For the day after virtual lab 4, please take notes on the remaining podcasts from the electric circuits unit. Unless you have physics during one of the lunch periods, most of this won’t happen until next week.

Cool Science of the Week
Quiz! Who was Yuri Gagarin?
A. The first man in space
B. The first woman to win the Nobel Prize in physics
C. My cousin’s neighbor who worked at NASA
If you answered A, you’re right! Fifty-five years ago, on April 12, 1961, the Russian cosmonaut became the first human to orbit Earth, igniting the “space race” and driving forward technology as never before. This weekend the Great Lakes Science Center will celebrate with all sorts of fun exhibits.

Week of April 11, 2016

With all of this snow and cold weather, why not wrap up in a blanket, drink some cocoa, and do some physics? Sounds good to me! 

This Week in AP Physics
1.) Study for the AP exam! Take half a unit a day, and it won’t be a huge burden.
2.) We will begin wave motion, sound, and optics (both physical and geometric.) This will take us through the next three weeks before the AP exams, which will take place on May 3rd and 4th (followed by a class party on the 5th and then some fun engineering projects!) In addition, please begin work on the modern physics packet using the podcasts located on our unit 16 webpage. Your unit 16 packet is due on April 25th. Your magnetism/electromagnetism packets 3 and 4 are due this Tuesday.
3.) Study for the AP exam some more. It’s worth it.
(Hang in there! You’re almost done! 🙂 )

This Week in Physics
When announced (either for Monday or Tuesday) you will take a quiz over the introductory electric circuits topics found in podcasts 1 and 2 and assignment 1. (You may also want to review virtual lab 1 on resistance and Ohm’s law.) If you are in 3rd or 6th/7th period, assignment 1 is due in class on Monday. Next we will do virtual lab 2. For the day after we finish virtual lab 2, please take notes on Podcast 3 – Series Circuits and Podcast 4 – Series Circuits Sample Problem. We will go over these and then do assignment 2 in class followed by a quiz on the day after we finish the assignment. Following this we’ll repeat the pattern by doing virtual lab 3 followed by Podcast 5 – Parallel Circuits and Podcast 6 – Parallel Circuits Sample Problem as announced.

Cool Science of the Week
All in a day’s work! Imagine being a bulldozer operator in Oklahoma and uncovering a mammoth skull! That’s what happened recently when digging in a sandpit on the site of an ancient riverbed. The skull belonged to a Columbian mammoth, a behemoth about twice the size of a woolly mammoth, from at least 11,000 years ago. How awesome!
The Columbian mammoth lived in North America during the Pleistocene epoch. It measured 13ft (4 metres) and weighed up to 10 tonnes. Its natural habitat included grassy landscapes (illustrated), compared to the woolly mammoth which preferred to live in the Arctic regions
Check out the size comparison to a modern elephant! Wow!
The mammoth skull found in Oklahoma held a single tooth in place.The discovery