Below is a selection of materials from my high school physics course. The reference sheets are condensed summaries of a few topics or ideas, good for cramming or having around while solving problems. Below that are worksheets and such for various units that I've taught at this level.
In general, the problems I write aren't anything special pedagogically. But, most of my early material is heavily influenced by Modeling Instruction, and the customized stuff written by Modelers I've worked with, Jason Cervenec in particular. I use some of the Modeling materials almost as-is, but I'm not distributing them -- they're intended only for teachers who have been through the Modeling training. So anyway -- outside of my reference pages, what I present below is mainly the stuff that I think is slightly unusual or interesting, mainly as a result of Modeling influence.
Various reference pages
- Measurements of the same size
For doing unit conversions. I try very hard to get my students to use conversion factors (aka. "factor label method") for all of their converting tasks, at least until they really know what they're doing. None of that metric staircase or moving the decimal nonsense. Too easy to make mistakes or lose track of what the math is doing. To write a conversion factor you need two measurements of the same size, so for convenience, this sheet lists many of them. With it, students can construct whatever conversion factor they might need.
- Precision and accuracy
My take on the classic "bullseye" explanation for precision and accuracy, with a few examples for ranking the relative precision or accuracy of different measurements.
- Cartoon, motion map, graph
Showing the parallel structures of three different motion diagrams: a regular drawing (called a cartoon), a motion map, and a position-time graph.
- Motion graphs
How to read a position-time graph and a velocity-time graph! Many example curves and their interpretations.
- Motion equations
Definitions and units for uniform and accelerated motions, concluding with the canonical kinematics formulas at the bottom of the page.
What is a vector? What notation is used for talking about them and their parts? How do I find the components or a magnitude? All these questions and more are answered within in a handy "keep this in the plastic cover of your binder" format.
- Forces on inclines
Similar to the treatment above for 2D vectors, I teach my students to redefine all inclined plane problems in this form. It makes the gravitational force a little weird, with a θ of 270° - (ramp angle). But everything else works out just like any other 2D force problem.
- Manifestations of energy
A handy-dandy list of "forms" of energy, categorized as either kinetic or potential. It drives me crazy when I see people list radiant energy as kinetic simply because it involves "moving" waves. If there's no matter, it's not a kinetic energy. End of story.
Measurement and data analysis
- Linear models 1
The first of many, many activities in which I have students look at graphs of data and try to make sense of it. Students struggle a lot with these questions, like "what does the y-intercept of this line tell you about the experiment?" This handout also addresses suppressed origins and non-uniform scales on axes.
- Linear models 2
More linear models exercises, building on the last one. Some of the examples in these two handouts originally came from other teachers or the Modeling files, but many of them are my own creation.
- Measuring precisely
Diagrams of common science class instruments (rulers, graduated cylinders, etc.) which students are asked to make measurements with. This is meant as practice with reading to the correct level of precision. I do this after Modeling's "glug" activity where students measure things with uncalibrated paint-stirrer sticks (which the teacher emphatically insists is a sophisticated and expensive scientific instrument). The glug activity starts establishing rules for estimating the last digit and builds into significant figures math. This activity is practice they can do as homework and where we can be sure that every student SHOULD get the same answer, within the uncertainty of the instruments.
- Unit conversion intro
These are the slides I used my last time through when I needed to introduce unit conversion. They are just meant to give you an idea about how I approach the topic. It starts with a sort of vague/obtuse question about two stacks of boxes and builds from there into the idea of a conversion factor. Not a single metric prefix to be seen.
- Weird unit conversions
After introducing conversion factors I assign this to force students to practice with them. The units here are unfamiliar, which means they can't rely on shortcuts like moving decimal places or knowing from experience that you change feet to inches by multiplying 12. Strictly enforce the use of conversion factors on this!! (This was a Cervenec-original, I believe.)
- Motion map madness 1
After a paradigm lab to establish a definition of uniform (constant-velocity) motion, we practice drawing motion maps together and then I assign this worksheet to see what they can do on their own.
- Position formula problems
Problems where students must apply xf=xi+v·Δt. I always forget how tricky problems can be even when focused on an idea as simple uniform motion. The problems with xi ≠ 0 in particular can throw students off.
- When do they meet?
I do this problem set right after the "cyclists" worksheet out of Modeling in which students are called on to interpret a position vs time graph that looks like an "x" with two objects that cross paths. It asks them to find the time at which two girls will run into each other using three different methods -- motion maps, graphs, and algebra. After this, I move on to the buggy-collision lab practical which is almost identical conceptually.
- Motion map madness 2
More motion map problems, this time involving objects that change their velocity, including changing direction and sitting still. We have a discussion beforehand where I let the Tumble Buggy hit a wall and flip over, and we come up with new rules for drawing motion maps to account for that sort of thing.
- Average velocity
A piecewise position-time graph is provided and students find the velocity for each piece, then consider different ways of finding an "average" velocity. This is our first exposure to velocity-time graphs and a little practice at drawing one based on the other. (When I first wrote this sheet, most of my students still knew who Trogdor was, but they don't anymore. Someday I'll rebrand it with a different character.)
- Stacks of graphs 1
An extension of the average velocity sheet, but with many more graphs on it, as well as written descriptions and motion maps. "Multiple representations" out the wazoo. This is basically identical to Modeling Instruction's old Unit II Worksheet 5. The file in the Modeling archives is sloppy and the graphic objects are messed up so I rebuilt it myself when I was student teaching. This one's given as a Word DOC instead of an OpenOffice file because I did it so long ago.
- Uniform motion review
A review of my whole uniform motion unit. I include this because there are a few question types not seen in the other files I have posted, especially those on page 3.
- Stacks of graphs 2
Like the previous "Stacks" sheet, this is adapted from the Modeling curriculum (their title was "Kinematics Curves"). I've redrawn the graphs again to make the file nicer to work with. This version only has problems where the position graph is given and the velocity and accelerations must be determined. The original mixed things up by giving the velocity graph and having students draw possible position graphs too.
- Stacks of graphs 3
More Stacks practice! I designed these ones. They're a little trickier and many involve three different sections instead of only two.
- Two-part motions
When we're studying kinematics I think it's important to give attention to motions comprising different "parts", like a car that moves with a constant velocity for a while and then brakes to a halt. My students referred to this problem set for weeks as "that princess sheet" because it prominently features a Mario Kart problem staring Princess Daisy.
- Acceleration review 1
The first of my review packets on acceleration, there's a wide variety of conceptual questions in here, mostly involving motion graphs.
Momentum and force
- Mystery mass practicum
This lab challenge ends my momentum unit. Students have a pair of lab carts with a spring. I place a black box on one cart, and they have to use conservation of momentum to find the box's mass. When they think they'e got it, I measure it on a balance right in front of them to check. This sheet starts with a silly "textbook-style" homework problem starring the Incredible Hulk. It has the same mathematical form as the practicum.
- Learning to draw force diagrams
Strictly conceptual practice at drawing force ("free body") diagrams. Many of these items were taken from a sheet that I think was authored by Andrew Heckler.
- F=ma exercises
Once a conceptual underpinning is there, I start a lot of quantitative skills with sort of old-fashioned drills just to make sure the basic manipulations get rehearsed a lot. This is a bunch of Fnet=m·a calculations with abstract situations represented only by force diagrams, not the more standard word problems.
- Normal force exercises
Anybody who has taught intro physics would probably agree that students have trouble with normal forces. This is another drills sheet using only diagrams to strongarm students into doing the proper sort of analysis over and over and over again. Exercise 12 is a trap -- it makes for a good discussion!
- Pushing at an angle
Building off of the normal force and basic vector ideas, these exercises give students practice at calculating components and then doing separate force analyses for x and y.
- Incline exercises
And again, stripped-down exercises for building up confidence and competence in a new realm: finding the acceleration of a block on an incline. I give plenty of "word problems" on all of these topics as well, in which students need to figure out what they're supposed to calcluate and put pieces together in different ways. I'm simply not posting them here because they're pretty standard.
- Energy calculations
A first, simple problem set for energy calculations, before you've even necessarily established the conservation of energy. The problems lead into it.
- Energy review 1
My mostyly-conceptual first energy review set. I've been sticking with energy pie graphs as my visualization without moving into the bar graphs or "LoL" charts that a lot of Modelers use. I felt like the pies did everything I needed.
- I create nearly all my materials in the OpenOffice suite, which is free and open source, so they are saved in version 1.2 of the OpenDocument format. If you want to edit them I strongly recommend using OpenOffice to do it. Microsoft Word can open the files, but depending on your version of Word they may be essentially useless. For example, when I try it in Word 2010, it says my ODTs are "corrupt" and then offers to "recover" some of the data. It gets the text mostly right, but the drawings are completely wrecked, and they're the most time-consuming part to make!
- My text documents are mostly written using a font called "Korinna BT". It seems to be pretty widely available if you search for it. If you don't have/want it, you may need to massage the formatting and spacing to make things look right.
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