After quiz review, assignment is distributed.   Students are
required here to design their own experiments, and have a framework for
that, but he says he is not going to handhold for experiments.   They
have to prepare their own lab purpose and procedures analysis.
 Students required to provide a drawing too for their planned
experiment, which is good non-linguistic representation.  Nice.

Students now working in group, puzzling through the lab
preparation questions, displaying good collaboration skills, explaining
confusions and asking questions.   The assignment has an end product
goal– the ball has to hit the mark, rolling off a sloped surface above,
and there is a prize for groups achieving this.  To plan accordingly,
questions of velocity and acceleration have to be accurately answered.
 ”The goal of the lab is to try and place the target that you have been
given at the correct position away from the base of your lab table so
that you hit the ‘candy zone.’   You will be given a ramp, stand, and
clamp, ball bearing, meter stick, stopwatch, and a target.”    Students
are drawing on previous knowledge, references to sine and cosine for
instance.    The teacher suggests, and students find great advantage
from, drawing out their understanding of the assignment and the
proposed solution.  He also offers encouragement and reinforcement for
good efforts.

Great conversation with the teacher, asked him how he was evolving
the program to meet changing times.  He said AP physics can be very
tradition bound, but they are really working to evolve it here.   He
said the school is committed to more group work, and more
communication– engineers can be geniuses in their own minds, but that
isn’t going to cut it, they have to communicate their ideas.    He also
explained how he is trying harder to not give kids the answers, but
empowering them to approach it in an inquiry kind of way; he explained
he attended a good summer seminar in AP physics by a guy who was really
into inquiry.   So he is trying to not give the kids the answers and
then asking them to repeat, but asking them to try to come up their own
answers, and then review where they might have gone astray.    He did
point out this can be hard for kids, used to the other way, but it is
important.  He told me that this assignment, which I really like, he
developed himself, and it represents a real change from the same unit
assignment a year ago, which was much more traditional.

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