Category Archives: Physics

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Student-Designed Courses: Phunsics Year 3 First Semester Recap

Previously in this space I wondered about my sanity plans for continuing to allow students to more or less run their physics class as an open workshop or maker-space. As it turns out, I did indeed decide to continue the student-designed format for this class for two main reasons. First of all, this year the physics class got scheduled for 7th hour, which is at the Read More →

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To What Extent Should a Course Be Student Designed?

This post about my Physics/Phunsics class has been rattling around in my head for more than half a year now, and its a tough one. The reason it is tough is that it involves failure, and I don’t really enjoy writing about failures. Semi-clever ideas and things that work, yes. Failure, no. Let me come right out and say it: the Phunsics class just didn’t Read More →

Testing the quadrotor motors

Student-designed physics class 2: the return of Phunsics

I’m happy to announce the return of my student-designed Phunsics class for the 2013-2014 school year. If you’ve followed our previous work, you might want to skip ahead to phunsics2013.wordpress.com or the pics below to see what we’re doing at the moment. For some discussion of how I set up the class this year, read on. As in my experiment a couple years ago, I’m running my Read More →

Rocket Barbie

“Should my physics course be called Physics?” -Further thoughts on student-designed courses

I’ll share a “wondering” of mine that I’ve been chewing on for a while and see what you can throw my way in the comments. It revolves around the title of a course, in this case “Physics.” What does the course title Physics mean? Does it matter? Who notices and who cares? Some background: I’m mostly a biologist by training and a chemistry teacher of Read More →

Convergent classroom (standards-based grading) meets divergent class (phunsics): separate styles for separate courses

Scott McLeod recently asked this question in his post Reconciling Convergence and Divergence: How do you reconcile… principles of standards-based grading; “begin with the end in mind and work backwards;” understanding by design; and other more convergent learning ideas with… project-, problem-, challenge-, and/or inquiry-based learning; creativity; innovation; collaboration; and our need for more divergent thinkers? My answer: I don’t reconcile the two, nor am I Read More →

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A shift in focus: “about us” becomes “about them” in a student-designed physics class

What do you do with a physics class full of bright, independent, high school kids? Well of course you march through the physics textbook so they can learn how to plug and chug all the right equations turn the class over to them so they can do the experiments that they want to do. At least that’s the way I thought we’d try it this Read More →

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A triumph of math

After much scribbling on whiteboards, iPads, calculators, restaurant napkins, and most anything else you can think of scribbling on, the math was done. Theory. Numbers on a screen or slip of paper. Are they the right numbers? How will we know? Build it. Cut the lumber according to the calculations. And they did. The math was right. To be continued….

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A fine balance

It’s been another phenomenal week in my physics class. We’ve got a definite groove going on in there that is about as student-centered as I can make it. We’ve got several different projects going on at once, still, but this week saw the successful completion and testing of our potato launcher (“its not a potato gun, its a potato accelerator”). Let’s just say that at Read More →

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Student-designed physics class: barely controlled chaos for the win

The experimental experiential student-designed entity that is my physics class is up and running for the year. We’re about three weeks in now (one of which was homecoming week, thank you very much) and we have some sort of structure to the class, but not much, or at least not as much as I’m used to (yes, I used to lecture a lot not too Read More →