Day 136: Free Fallin’

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

After a few days of semi-successful attempts at capturing free fall inside the classroom, I took the kids outside with instructions to “film your partner chucking a ball as high as they can and letting the ball fall to the ground.” Here are a few photos of said chucking:


They learned the definition of free fall and I sent them outside with the question, “can you treat your ball as being in a state of free fall?”


They all knew they were looking for an acceleration of 9.8 m/s/s. We’ve been studying position vs time and velocity vs time graphs for about a week by this point.



Textbook case. Ok, but you should’ve seen the group that tracked the position vs time of the ball throughout the entire flight. What a gorgeous parabola.

We ran the numbers on acceleration and had trouble coming out near 9.8 m/s/s. The kids reasoned through it that scaling was probably their biggest problem. (Ok, so not really the kids — I totally pointed it out and the kids agreed with me.)

This one was fun, kinda spur of the moment, and is totally getting a more formal place in the class next year.

Day 132: Super Ultimate Graphing Challenge

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

I had kids play World 1 from The Super Ultimate Graphing Challenge. Most of them finished all 24 levels in 45 minutes +/-. This game is actually kind of fun. There’s enough challenge to keep you in the game but nothing’s so difficult you get frustrated to the point of quitting.

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The kids were having so much fun, several asked if they were allowed to continue on to World 2, which introduces acceleration.

Pro tip from my colleague: when they submit a screenshot of the completed game for your grade, get them to include your login name in the picture. Keeps em honest:


Days 122-123: Interesting Test Work

Wednesday and Thursday, March 2 & 3 2016

Gave a test over forces today. Here are a few interesting things I uncovered:

#1: I asked kids to draw a free body diagram for a scenario given. No numbers, no working anything out, just drawing a free body diagram. In this scenario, a car is braking:


This kid did some great work in realizing the brakes apply a force as well as friction which is always present. This kid also realized that because the car was slowing, there must be imbalance to the forces. But then this: Fthe car’s initial velocity. Oh no!

#2: Later, I regained some faith in my student body’s humanity when I spotted this drawing and explanation for a skydiver problem:


Day 118: Gender vs Sexuality

Thursday, 25 February 2016

While talking with a colleague, I was inspired to sketch this graph to show her how I like to think about gender vs sexuality.


Our affinity group work on campus has had us thinking a lot along the gender axis this year. We were also talking about how often the two axes are compressed into one.

Here are a few resources I like when talking about the topic of gender vs sexuality:

Day 116: Bag & Tag Party

Tuesday, 23 February 2016


As one of the coaches for FIRST Robotics Competition Team #2415, a goal I’ve been working on this year is bringing the team together more often. Our build days are “come when you can” so that our younger students often don’t feel the cohesiveness of a team until we hit our first competition.

So, on Bag & Tag day — the day we’re ordered to stop building our competition robot — I organized a party to recognize the event. We invited parents and sponsors to join the kids as we put the robot into the bag. wp-1456413117197.jpg

I’d estimate 30 parents came out for the event. It was the first time nearly all of them had seen our robot and gotten a tour of our workshop. At 8pm, I said a few words to the crowd and then we bagged the robot.

wp-1456413122498.jpgMany students, who felt unfinished with the robot at the appointed time, were frustrated by the event because we forced them to permanently bag the robot four hours before the official end of Bag & Tag day. I hope that moving forward we can have our robot to a better place before the party, because it’s staying.

We also got a treat when our longest-standing sponsor, Jim Black and his family who represent Greenguard, came out to give us his famous cheer and share homemade ice cream.

The FRC #2415 WiredCats competition season includes: