Projectiles Launched Horizontally

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Students will apply kinematics equations to horizontally launched particles.

Big Idea

Students launch their understanding of vector components into projectile motion.

Video Introduction

10 minutes

As soon as students come into the room and are seated, I play this video and ask the students to remain absolutely silent. I go ahead and play the video a second time while maintaining silence in the classroom. Then, I ask students to take out their science notebooks and create a written explanation of what is happening in the video. They have 5 minutes to write; the expectation of no talking remains. Keeping the classroom silent is an important component since some students can easily explain the demonstration and others really struggle.

After students have finished writing, I ask if anyone would like to share their explanations.  I usually allow anyone who volunteers to share, since I continuously strive for a fair and welcoming classroom environment.  As students are sharing, I put main ideas on the board from each student as I see fit.  The goal is to get students to understand that both objects are being accelerated in the y-direction by gravity and anything happening in the x-direction has no effect on that downward acceleration.  

I have students write the bold phrase from above in their notebooks, just under their written explanations. The purpose of having students record this statement is so that throughout the direct instruction today they can refer back to our introductory discovery.

Direct Instruction

30 minutes

It's time for students to take out a sheet of paper or their science notebooks and get ready to learn about horizontally launched projectiles. Because these are AP students, I do not monitor how they organize their notes but I do ensure that they are being recorded and referred to throughout lessons and activities. The first thing I say to students when they ask a content question is "Show me your notes" so that I can hold them accountable for using our note-time productively. Also, my students are operating under the expectation that they must write down key points from the presentation. This expectation of how to take notes has been outlined and ingrained in their learning since freshman year.

I display the horizontal launches PowerPoint to help the students understand what they need to write down. As I'm showing the slides on the front board, I have a hard copy of the PowerPoint which includes teacher notes (viewable when the file is downloaded). These notes help me to stay focused and ensure I mention the highlights as we progress through each slide.

While I describe this section as "direct instruction," I usually have a lot of interaction with my students throughout the presentation and am constantly moving throughout the room to change my proximity to different students. I try to encourage students to ask questions and connect these ideas to real-world examples to stay engaged the entire time. They also have the opportunity to solve practice problems (found in the PowerPoint) during this time. I pause and give students several minutes to work through answers (and collaborate with those around them if needed) before I show the solution. My goals in providing these practice problems are to give students an opportunity to apply their new knowledge and then compare their reasoning to my solution.

Closure & Assessment

10 minutes

In today's closure, students are each assigned a letter of the alphabet and must come up with a word that starts with that letter and pertains to the concepts covered in class today. After about thirty seconds of processing time, students share out their words with the rest of the class. I use this closure strategy when I want to do a basic check for understanding, and today students did a nice job of summarizing what was learned with their words. When I hear students contributing words such as "components" and "independent," I see evidence of learning because those were words I used during the PowerPoint. Some of their responses were most certainly creative, such as quitting and noteworthy, but I give them credit for at least having some fun with the activity.

Before the class ends, I make sure each student is aware that tonight's homework is from our textbook. Students are expected to complete the assignment on a separate sheet of paper before the start of the next class period. My homework expectations include listing the givens, identifying the unknowns, showing equations and substitutions, and circling the final answer with units.