Free Fall Wrap-Up

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Students will be able to state the value of the acceleration due to gravity in meters per second squared and use it in mathematical models in situations of free fall.

Big Idea

Students show what they know about free fall through whiteboard presentations.

Physics Families: Fruit Snack Towers

15 minutes

The goal of this lesson is to give students an opportunity to express their knowledge of free fall through both written and verbal practice. Students use their computational problem solving skills to present information from an assigned set of problems in a whiteboard session, explaining their thought process. By the end of this lesson, students should feel comfortable with any free fall problem through the whiteboard sessions.

To begin class, I have students start in their Physics Families. The activity I choose for today is the fruit snack tower building activity. I choose this because it is almost the end of the first quarter and I want students to develop a stronger bond with their peers through this team building activity. I ask one member from each group to come to the front desk and get the materials for the activity (2 bags of fruit snacks, 20 toothpicks and 2 pieces of paper towel). I also ask all students to come up to the front of the room and use hand sanitizer or wash their hands. After each group has their materials, I give them 5 minutes of plan time to figure out how they are going to build their tower. They may only touch the fruit snacks with the toothpicks and their goal is to build the tallest tower.

After planing time is up, I ask students to make sure there are no fruit snacks attached to the toothpicks before we start. They have 3 minutes to build, but they will not allowed to talk during that time. Here is a video of the students working on their towers:

After they finish their towers, I ask them how it felt to not be able to talk and if they used their time wisely. Usually they say they didn't talk enough during the plan time. So I give them 2 more minutes to complete their towers and allow them to talk. Here is a video of students during the second building time:

When the time is up, I go around and measure the height of each tower; the tallest tower gets to put a super star sticker with their group name on the Physics Family wall in my classroom as a reward. Students can then eat the fruit snacks.

Whiteboard Free Fall Problems

50 minutes

After students have moved back to their assigned seats, I ask students to compare answers from the homework and classwork from the previous day with each other at their tables (Worksheet #4 Free Fall WorksheetWS #4 KEY).  I then ask them to decide which problems they would feel most comfortable completing on a whiteboard to share with the class. After I have given them about 5 minutes to complete both tasks, I put a chart up on the front board that lists the problem numbers. Each group sends up one representative to sign up their table for a problem. Once they have signed up for a problem, they retrieve a whiteboard and together, as a group, show their work for that problem on the whiteboard. Student whiteboard examples are shown here Free Fall Whiteboard #1 and Free Fall Whiteboard #2.

During the whiteboard presentations, I ask that the presenters read the problem and explain their thought process of how they solved the problem. During these presentations, I have the problems presented in the order that they appear on the worksheet. Since we have done a few whiteboard sessions before, I randomly select two students from the group to present based on the number of their table and rolling a 4-sided die. The two members are selected based on their seat-numbers on the table move up to the front of the room with their whiteboard to present. The audience should be listening and checking their work with what is on the whiteboard to see if they agree. If the audience does not agree with what is on the board, I ask them to ask a question to the presenters. If no students have questions, I try to ask questions to the group before we clap and the group sits down.

The things that I look for in particular for this whiteboard session are that each member is speaking for part of the presentation because I want to make sure that students understand the material. I also look for proper work shown as well as how students approached the multiple step problems to see if any other students did the problems differently. This set of problems has a few that are straight forward but several that could be easy to make an error if students don't read carefully or think through the entire problem before just plugging in numbers. 

End of Discussion Checkpoint

5 minutes

After all of the students have presented their whiteboards, I ask them if they have any questions about free fall. When all of the questions have been answered, I pass out the End of Discussion Checkpoint #3. I ask students to work on this individually and I write all of the equations for the unit on the whiteboard so students can refer to them. I have students complete this end of discussion checkpoint in order for us to get a better sense of the depth of their understanding of free fall and free fall problems before the test.

When students are done working on the end of discussion checkpoint, I ask them to turn them over at their desks. When everyone is finished, I ask them to turn the papers back over to check their work with my answers that I put on the projector screen. We go over the answer in class right after they are done; students grade their own papers so that they can have immediate feedback before we start the next few days of review. After we finish going over the end of discussion checkpoint, I pass out a Unit 2 Review Sheet that I ask them to start working on for homework.