Sunday, November 18, 2012

Callback Meeting #1

Can it really have been 3 months since I was at BU?  The week I was done I had to move my son and daughter into college in SC and ME, and then school started.  It's been a whirlwind pace since then. 

Robotics Club at Quabbin

I've been inspired by my summer experience to provide some after school research/design opportunities at my school.  We had an engineering club called JETS and I volunteered to be the advisor this year.  I put a message about the club on the announcements and 8 students showed up: 5 freshmen, a sophomore, a junior, and a senior.  We talked about different things we could do but everyone was most excited about entering a robotics competition.  We researched two different competitions and they chose to participate in the VEX Robotics one.

Right Place at the Right Time

We contacted Quinsigamond Community College to register for their competition kickoff event.  This event would go over the rules and give us a chance to see the game area in person.  The person leading me the event asked me if we needed kits.  I really thought she meant we'd get some bean bags (for this year's challenge) and maybe a Vex flag for our robot.  She actually meant entire sets of parts for building robots.  I was afraid to ask how much it cost.  When I finally did she told me it was all funded by Verizon and we'd get enought to make 2-3 robots!  Since then I've been to professional development where I built a robot with a partner and went to a programming class.  I am terrible at driving the robot but I'm sure the students will master that in no time.  Right now we are just waiting for our kits to come in.  Then we'll have a lot of work to do because the first competition is in two weeks after we get back from Thanksgiving!

Changes to my Physics Class

I really treasured the chance to get to put the optics bench together and mess around with it to get it to work.  I was determined to get my students more hands on experience in the classroom.  For a lot of my labs I only have one of the piece of equipment so last year I would gather the data and call up students to help to help out with parts.  Now I have revamped my labs so lab partners rotate around to lab stations and everyone gets a chance to set up the equipment and gather the data.  It is a lot more engaging for the students and it is great to see them problem solve when it doesn't go right the first time.

Last year I had students keep lab notebooks rather than writing formal reports.  I did this mostly because it was an option offered by AP and I liked the idea of my AP students having all of their work together in a notebook.  Now I realize I need to teach my students how to write formal labs.  This year I wrote an exemplar lab and some new rubrics and am having them write up some of the labs this way.  They really did a great job on their first try.  I'd like them to make a research poster for one of the labs.  I haven't decided which one would be good for that yet.

Finally, I would like to include a design lab in my curriculum.  I have one so far: the bungee jump one, but I feel that I lead students to the design too much.  I think I have to just give them the problem statement and then be patient enough to let them figure it out for themselves.  Also, Joel told me he has them do a design that has them show the conservation of energy.  I'd like to incorporate that too. 

I am looking forward to the callback meeting to see everyone again and to see how their years are going!   

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