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Frictional force on a block on a ramp that has a wall holding it up

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Today in class, students were asked to draw a force diagram for the drawing shown on the right. The drawing shows a block on a ramp with a “wall” holding it back. The question that we couldn’t answer easily is, ‘Does the friction between the ramp’s surface and the block need to be accounted for… Continue reading Frictional force on a block on a ramp that has a wall holding it up

Order of operations in math equations; a new take on explaining PEMDAS

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A recent discussion on the NSTA physics teacher list, the question of “order of operations” came up.  In math, the order of operations defines which operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.) one performs first. A writer asked for solutions to the following expressions: 2 + (3 x 2) + 3 (2 + 3) x (2 +… Continue reading Order of operations in math equations; a new take on explaining PEMDAS

Correlations and Scatter Plots

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After a couple of hand-graphs, my students use their TI 83/84 calculator for graphing. We set the calculators so they give an “R squared” correlation, which we often use to help determine which regression type (linear, quadratic, power) fits the data the best. Many of my students have a hard time understanding the nature of… Continue reading Correlations and Scatter Plots

If a nucleus is full of positively charged protons, why doesn’t it fly apart?

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In my physical science class this week, I realized the textbook was introducing the structure of the atom and positive and negative charges, but not answering addressing the clear question that follows the presented information is “what the heck keeps all those protons together in the nucleus?” The book does get around to the nuclear… Continue reading If a nucleus is full of positively charged protons, why doesn’t it fly apart?

A radical idea: Treat teachers like plumbers…

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This weekend, while attending a Model United Nations convention with my MUN students, I got to talking with a few colleagues and discussing how people become teachers. Here are the basic steps to becoming certified as a teacher in California: Pay lots of money to get a BA/BS at your favorite university. If you want… Continue reading A radical idea: Treat teachers like plumbers…

Next Generation Science Standards, second draft published

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The second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards were released this week. You can find them all here: www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards You can search them here: www.nextgenscience.org/search-standards-dci I have exported pages containing all DCI Arranged Standards – Public Release High School only.

Results of online grading survey

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Last week I posted a survey of online grading practices. I announced the survey through several email lists I participate in [1], as well as on my Facebook “wall”. The survey was open for five days, and resulted in 164 responses. I make no attempt to pass this survey off as statistically accurate representation of… Continue reading Results of online grading survey

Survey of teacher use of online grading systems and their implementation

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If you teach at a middle school or high school, please take a couple minutes to answer this survey. I will post results here in mid-December 2012. (Apologies for the multiple scroll bars.) I’ve reached the capacity of the free Survey Monkey site (100 responses!), so I’m making a copy of it. If the survey… Continue reading Survey of teacher use of online grading systems and their implementation

Grading labs: A faster method using pre-printed return address labels.

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Grading tends to be the biggest time consuming task for teachers. For those teachers who want students to complete lab write-ups that truly reflect discover and learning, providing feedback on labs can be an even more daunting task. This year I started using a system that has significantly sped up grading the mechanics of the… Continue reading Grading labs: A faster method using pre-printed return address labels.

Newton’s Laws and shopping carts falling out of truck

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Watch the following video, the try to answer the questions below it: What is happening to the truck and the carts when the carts start following off the truck? What causes the carts to fall off the truck? While the truck is moving, the left row of carts doesn’t fall off the truck. Can you… Continue reading Newton’s Laws and shopping carts falling out of truck