Students in Action
Designing A Lab To Determine Density
During this lab, students are asked to determine the identities of several unknown cylinders and represent their data using a graph and a table. They are given no procedure, but are provided a list of supplies that they can use to make various measurements.
This lab, while it does enforce the chemistry concept of density, is also vital for my students' understanding of lab procedures and data collection. At this very early point in the year, many students do not know what a data table is or how to construct one. They also struggle heavily with representing their data (many choose bar graphs which are not as informative as the line graph pictured). In doing this experiment, students not only can demonstrate their understanding of density, but are primed to better represent and share their data.
Solving The Can Crush Conundrum
During our unit on gas laws, students are able to see a variety of different demonstrations of various gas properties. After a few days getting used to the gas laws, the classic "can crush" demonstration is performed where a heated soda can filled slightly with water is inverted into an ice bath causing it to collapse.
Students are asked to take observations individually, share in pairs, and then as groups represent what is happening during the demonstration. The groups then present. This activity provides students with opportunities to show their thinking visibly, demonstrate a variety of the gas laws learned in class, and work together to share their understanding.
Using The Law of Reflection: "Opperation Periscope"
The Law of Reflection is put into action when my low level physics students are given a task by the government. The task (should they choose to except it) is to create a device that allows a secret agent to see around an obstacle.
This activity is perfect for differentiation. Students are put into like-ability groups and are given easy, medium, or hard tasks based on their group's ability level. The goal is to show an understanding of ray diagrams reflecting off of plane mirrors, and then use these designs to actually build operational periscopes. The students received extra credit if they could build the device to be worn "hands-free" on their heads.