Fall 2009: Day 4

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Fall 2009-Day 3
Fall 2009-Day 5

Day 4 Topics

Sun and Moon Observations
Literacy Brainstorming Webs
Review of Powerful Ideas About Light
Light and Reflection Diagnostic Question
Mirror Explorations
Rooftop Observations
Homework Week 2

Peer Instructor Reflection

Fall 2009: Day 4
Written by: Katie Kizer

We started off class by talking about what we have seen in the sky over the past couple of days. Some students noticed the sun and the moon had been out at the same time. They drew pictures of the angles their arms would be at if they pointed at the sun and at the moon at the same time. We have a white board in class that looks like a large calendar where students can fill in their visual observations of the moon each day. Students estimated the angle of their arms to be a little less than 160 degrees. They also noticed the fullness of the moon seemed to be slightly less than the previous days.

A large part of Physics 111 is incorporating Literacy into science learning. So, the next activity we did was brainstorm what we already knew about literacy. On large pieces of white paper, everyone wrote down what literacy means to them. They all understand that literacy is not all about reading and writing. It is about communication and understanding. They included pictures of books they have read in the past, drawings of posters that say “Book Fair Today,” and symbols of books and writing utensils. Other aspects of literacy they included on their large pieces of paper were ideas of how literacy can be incorporated into science/physics learning. Previously, students learned that light leaves a light source from all directions. When it hits an object, light again leaves from all directions. This powerful idea was tested when the students started playing around with mirrors. In groups of four, students stood around all sides of the square table with a mirror in the center. When one student shined a flashlight at the mirror, the person opposite of them could also see the flashlight in the mirror. Her face was illuminated. The other two students could not see the light, and their faces were not illuminated. They wondered why they could not see the light in certain positions around the table. They concluded that this meant that when light is reflected, it does not shoot out in every direction. Maybe it bounces in a straight line.

The class was split up into two groups. Each group explored a different idea, and then they shared their findings with the other half of the class. One group used a small mirror with a meter stick beside it. They had two identical markers. They put one in front of the mirror, and one on the other side(behind) the mirror. The image that showed up in the mirror was only of part of the marker in front. They moved the marker in back until the image and the marker in the back lined up so it looked like one full marker. They noticed that the two real markers were exactly the same distance from the mirror in front and in back. This meant that an image of an object appears to be the same distance behind the mirror that it really is in front of the mirror.

The second group also explored where you can see an object within a mirror. Three students stood in front of a mirror. There was an object (a lamp) in front of the mirror also, but to the left. They were trying to figure out which student could see the image of the object in the mirror. They found that only one of them could see the lamp. Through exploration, they determined that the angle the light hit the mirror was the same angle that the light reflected back off of the mirror in the other direction. We later learned that these angles are called the angle of incidence (the going in angle) and the angle of reflection (the bouncing back angle). We further demonstrated this in class by quickly rolling a basketball against the wall. The ball bounced off the wall at the same angle that it was thrown against the wall at.

We went to the roof again once the fog cleared. Although this was toward the end of class, the moon was still out. Just two days before this, the moon had set at about 10 AM. The moon looked smaller or less full than before, but it was still more than half lit. This must mean that the “dying moon” theory is proving to be correct. The moon is becoming less full. Another important observation that was made was the angle between the sun and the moon. When the students pointed one arm at the sun, and the other arm at the moon, they estimated the angle to be about 110 degrees. This has also decreased from the previous days. I am glad that we are able to take the students outside and get them to experience the sun and the moon first-hand. The students seem excited to be learning things in the manner that Physics 111 is taught. This gets me excited to work with younger children because I know they will have just as much fun, if not more while learning!

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