Day 50: Physics Schism


So this didn’t actually happen today, but too good not to share. AP students are solving the “rolling ball down a ramp, off the table, and into a can on the floor” real life problem. I told them if they correctly predicted where to place the can, they’d get mastery on the appropriate standards.

Notice the two factions in the photo: the group on the left is using a kinematics/dynamics approach, while the group on the right is using an energy approach.

So who won? Neither group. We hadn’t discussed rolling yet, so they treated the ball like an object sliding down a ramp. Their predictions were too far out.

“But why didn’t it work?” they asked.

“You knew we weren’t going to get the ball in, didn’t you?” they asked.

Yep. But now they all wanted to know how to factor rotation into the analysis.

Sometimes failure can be a great motivator.


About Frank Noschese

HS Physics Teacher constantly questioning my teaching.

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