Collecting Physics Data with Your Phone

I don’t have a smart phone, but you bet all my students do!  (One day soon, I’ll upgrade…)  Since my schools is piloting BYOD (bring your own device) in the classroom, I may be able to use some of these apps in the future.

Physics Gizmo

physicsgizmoTurns your Android device into a motion detector using blue tooth!  Looks much cleaner and easier than Logger Pro.

Another one to look at: Physics Sketchpad (also Android)

These types of apps are an awesome development!  They will allow students to access real world data without the need for super-expensive sensors.


Angry Birds & Projectile Motion

Thanks to the super popular Angry Birds game, students have a pretty good concept of non-horizontal projectile motion.

This article from PBS is very helpful when thinking about how to implement the game into your instruction: Teaching Physics with Angry Birds

Another great article from The Physics of Angry Birds

Google Chrome provides an online free version of Angry Birds (can be used with any browser, however).  This makes a great Friday or day-before-break activity.

The Universe and More Super Ultimate Graphing Challenge

Position versus time, velocity versus time, acceleration versus time… these graphs confuse physics students!  Fortunately there’s the Super Ultimate Graphing Challenge from The Universe and More.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 8.25.32 PMAs you can see, there are sliders to control initial position and initial velocity.  The goal is to set them so that the graph is created in the blue area.

It gets a little tougher when you have to use keyboard control!

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 8.35.10 PMAnd then changes in velocity!!

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 8.36.28 PMFound this too late to use this school year, but can’t wait to use it next year.  I think students will really enjoy it and it will help them relate the 1D motion to the 2D graph.

PhET Physics Simulations

From the University of Colorado at Boulder comes PhET Physics Simulations.

Here’s a screen shot from the Gravity Force Lab, which demonstrates the universal law of gravitation:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 8.16.29 PMBy increases or decreasing the mass of the two objects or by changing the distance between them, the force on each object is updated.  My students struggled with recording the correct force.  Some would write 396 N and ignore the decimal places, so I’m careful to address that.

Each simulation has lesson plans and work sheets associated with it created by other teachers.  These are a mixed bag.  While some of the files provide a quick lesson or a good starting point, others are too advanced or upper level to be useful with my students.

Pedigree Investigator from Learn.Genetics

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 1.51.19 PMPedigree Investigator from Learn.Genetics is a fun interactive activity for human inheritance.  It focuses on the Marshall family and nicotine addiction in 3 generations.  The “Pedigree Analysis Information” provides a good introduction into pedigree symbols.  Then, students are guided through a series of videos and documents to determine whether each individual in the family is affected and unaffected and if there are any risk factors present.  The interactive guides students with putting the correct symbol for each individual, which they can also record on this handout from the site: Pedigree Investigator Worksheet & Key

Advanced students may be able to complete the worksheet on their own, but my students needed quite a bit of help.  The worksheet layout is not exactly like the graphics on the website, so this threw some of my students off.  This year, we did the activity together as a class, and it was much more successful.  I surveyed the class before I selected a symbol for the pedigree and I asked them to predict the status of the children of each couple before we started them.  Afterwards, we went through and added the genotype of each individual.

My students really enjoyed this activity, and it made them question how the patterns of inheritance in their own families.  Unfortunately, many students at my school smoke or dip, so I like to show them how this could affect them long-term and why it may be very hard for them to quit if they start.

And they all love the video for III.10, or Tess, who is the epitome of every angry teenager stereotype.

FroGuts Pea & Fly Lab Online Interactive

This is the first year my school has subscribed to FroGuts.  FroGuts provides online dissection interactives which are quite detailed.  Our hope was to save money by not having to buy preserved specimens, but also that students would gain a greater understanding of the structures they were supposed to observe.  If you’ve ever tried to dissect a preserved starfish, you know it can be difficult to differentiate between the guts inside!

However, FroGuts also has a series of labs introducing genetics using pea plants and common fruit flies.  Students are guided through the lab with both text and sound, perform an experiment, and finish with a quiz.  There are 4 parts: #1 Dominance, #2 Segregation, #3 Independent Assortment, and #4 Drosphilia Fly Lab.

Below is a screen shot of the pea plant experiment in the #1 Principle of Dominance lab:

p1crossStudents are guided in #3 Independent Assortment through a dihybrid cross:

dihybridThe #4 Drosphilia Lab is very challenging, so I would recommend going through it as a class unless you have advanced students.  This lab focuses on sex-linked traits.

flywingPros: Interactive, written and read-aloud instructions, less time & materials than actually doing the lab, concepts are well presented

Cons: Robot reading voice, only 1 lab has a write-up associated with it, students will try to skip through things using the “forward” button, students also had difficulty with the “pause” button

Since only Lab #4 had a write-up, I created worksheets to accompany #1-3 that I’d like to share:

FroGuts Pea Plants Dominance

FroGuts Pea Plants Segregation

FroGuts Pea Plants Independent Assortment

Please note that the quizzes at the end of each lab present the questions randomly each time, so students will not be able to fill out the quiz answers in order.  I hope you find these worksheets useful.

Not sure whether we’ll keep FroGuts for next year.  That’ll depend on how the Starfish, Squid, Cow Eye, Frog, Owl Pellet, and Fetal Pig labs turn out.