Day 7: Photo finish challenge

A quick note on Twitter: it really has has made me a better teacher. It’s given me the ability to network with and learn from some amazing teachers all across the country. Today, I tweeted my frustration with my struggles to teach some of my physics classes the significance of slope, and within an hour, someone had replied with advice. If you’re an educator and not on Twitter, you’re doing it wrong.

Speaking of Twitter inspiration, I got the idea from Casey Rutherford to run the Buggy Lab twice; first, as an open inquiry lab into the relationship between distance and time, and then, as a position and time investigation on one long tape measure. This has really helped the classes see the limitations of distance and speed and, therefore, the reasoning for displacement and velocity.

Twitter has also taught me that adding “challenge” to the end of anything is instant motivation, so today, we did the “Photo Finish Challenge.” I asked students to pair up with someone from a different group so that their partner has position and time data for a vehicle of a different speed. I gave pairs the specific spot along the tape measure where the finish line was located, and their challenge was to place their vehicles in starting positions that would result in the vehicles crossing the finish line at the same time if they also were started at the same time. The video below is of the first group to come really close, so there was some excited yelling and applause, but most of it happened after I stopped recording because I’m not good at this capturing moments thing. Gasps and an awesome “No way!” is pretty cool, too, though.

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