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I've been asked in this thread http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/489738-living-books-approach-to-9th-grade-biology/ to write a living books approach to physics. Although I am a qualified teacher in all sciences, my speciality is biology, so I am sure that others (obviously Regentrude) will have suggestions to improve this plan. I hope that it is helpful to all the poets out there (read humanity types) who want to be educated in physics, but don't have an interest in using a mathematical or textbook-based approach. I have found this week-long project to be fascinating! See post 25 for an explanation of *why* I designed this course in this manner. Physics for Poets: a living books approach to physics This will be a conceptual class using 'living books.' It is not a history of science or a study of the biographies of scientists. It is about understanding physics concepts. This class is at a high school level, so although no textbook will be used, the resources chosen are targeted at a reasonably high level. This class could be taught with or without a lab component. GOALS: 1) To understand why objects behave as they do 2) To understand how technology works 3) To study modern physics 4) To understand physics issues in the news OBJECTIVES: 1) To gain a general understanding of basic physics: mechanics, optics, electromagnetism, modern physics 2) To apply this understanding to everyday objects and observations 3) To research current physics topics and understand the importance of large physics projects like CERN 4) To explain both orally and in writing, the physics behind everyday objects and issues in the news 5) To do practical scientific investigations in physics in order to gain an understanding of the scientific method. I don't have time to plan out the labs, but expect them to take about 4-5 hours each (including write-up), so more like investigations than quicky labs. This adds to 20-25 hours lab work, a bit light but still respectable. I have copied an example investigation at the bottom. WORK LOAD I am assuming 6-8 hours per week which includes reading. Reading classes, like English, require more reading hours, so student might find that 8 hours per week is required. Read 5 books (averaging about 45 pages per week) Watch 1 lecture per week Write 5 small papers Make 3 presentations Research and write about 1 larger issue If the work load is too heavy, drop Physics of the Impossible, and reduce to 30 pages per week on average. Your student should read more on reading-only weeks, so that there is more time for the presentations/writing/investigation weeks. RESOURCES Video Lecture Physics in your life - The Great Courses Unit 1. The Physics of Everyday Objects (Mechanics/motion, optics/waves, electromagnetism, digital/machines): 15 weeks. (40 pages/week) 1)The New ï¼·ay Things Work. Macaulay (400 pages) 2) For the Love of Physics: From the End of the Rainbow to the Edge of Time - A Journey Through the Wonders of Physics. Lewin. (pages 1-188 only) Unit 2. Modern physics: 17 weeks. (40 pages/week for 15 weeks, then 60 pages/week for last 6 week of the easy read) 3) How to teach physics to your dog. Orzel(250 pages) 4) Physics of the impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel (350 pages) 5) Lightweight book: choose one from these three 5a) Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman. Feynman. Biography (350 pages) (see Regentrude's post #15 below about possible inappropriate content) 5b) Both The Wizard of Quarks and Alice in Quantumland (380 pages together) 5c) The Physics of Superheros (380 pages) For students with a more mathematical bend, replace selections 2, 3, or 4 with one of these selections, and remove the lightweight book to make more time for the harder selection. 6) The physics of football (300 pages) 7) A Brief History of Time. Hawking. The physics of astronomy. (340 pages) 8) Thirty Years that Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory. Gamow. Requires some algebra but not more advanced math. (240 pages) For students with less time or less-skilled students, remove either For the Love of Physics or Physics of the Impossible (depending on interest), thus dropping out all reading for the last 6 weeks so the student can focus on his/her research paper. Unit 3: Research paper on Socio-Scientifc issue Student selected resources. Useful websites listed below. SCHEDULE: 6-8 hours per week. 36 weeks. Unit 1. The physics of everyday objects (weeks 1-15) Watch: Lectures 1-15 Read: How Things Work and For the Love of Physics. 40 pages per week Present: Three 20-minute presentation on the most interesting objects you have studied Write: Three 2-page papers explaining in your own words the physics behind everyday objects (see at the bottom of this post for ideas) Investigate: Three topics Weeks: 1-2 Read, prepare presentation on mechanics 3-4 Read, write 2-page paper on mechanics 5 Read, investigation #1 6-7 Read, prepare presentation on waves/optics 8-9 Read, write 2-page paper on waves/optics 10 Read, investigation #2 11-12 Read, prepare presentation on electromagnetism 13-14 Read, write 2-page paper on electromagnetism 15 Read, investigation #3 Unit 2: Modern physics (weeks 16-32) Watch: Lectures 16-32 Read: How to teach physics to your dog; and Physics of the Impossible; and begin one of the lightweight books Research: Two topics in modern physics Write: Two 4-page papers on modern physics (see bottom of this post for ideas). Investigate: 2 topics Weeks: 19-21 Read book 22 Read, Research topic on modern physics 23 Read, Write 4-page paper 24 Read, Investigation #4 25-27 Read book 28 Read, Research topic on modern physics 29 Read, Write 4-page paper 30 Read, Investigation #5 Unit 3: Research paper on Socio-Scientifc issue (weeks 33-36) Choose one topic that is particularly interesting to you and do an in-depth study. Write a 10-page research paper both describing the issue, persuading the reader to either support or decline funding to the area of research (see bottom of this post for ideas). Watch: Lectures 33-36 Read: Finish lightweight book Research: One large topic Write: One 10-page paper Weeks: 33-34 Research 35-36 Plan and write 10-page paper Useful websites Physics in the news http://www.physics.org/news.asp http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/matter_energy/physics/ http://phys.org/physics-news/ http://www.physnews.com/ Investigations http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/wop/homeexpphys.html http://seniorphysics.com/physics/eei.html http://www.sciencefairadventure.com/Physics.aspx http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/practical-physics http://www.courseworkbank.info/Dndex.php?d=R0NTRS9QaHlzaWNz&catagory= PhET simulations Physics Fun and Beyond ASSESSMENT 3 Presentations 5 Papers 1 Large research paper 5 Investigations IDEAS FOR WRITING ASSIGNMENTS After writing up the above plan, I went looking for resources to augment the books. I found to my utter amazement, that the NZ 12th grade physics curriculum includes the exact same writing assignments :blink: (yes, apparently great minds think alike :thumbup:). So I have included here the description of the writing assignments to give some clarity to what I was talking about: UNIT 1: Demonstrate understanding of the application of physics to a selected context Option 1. Semiconducting Todayâ€™s society is very reliant on the use of electronic devices. These devices make use of semiconductors, therefore understanding how semiconductors (and the electronic components they are made of) are used in modern technology is increasingly important. Apply your understanding of physics to a real life context. You need to apply your knowledge of circuits and semiconductor physics to the function of a semiconductor component used in an electronic device. Possible electronic devices: light emitting diode (LED) photodiode bipolar junction transistor (MOSFET, CMOS, JFET) light dependent resistor (LDR) thermistor. Research your chosen electronic device. Using your knowledge of circuits and semiconductor physics, explain the function of a semiconductor component used in the electronic device. You are encouraged to use diagrams and pictures to support your explanations. You need to clearly link key physics ideas together to provide a coherent picture of the physics relevant to the semiconductor component. Option 2. Other ideas General â€“ bridge building, musical instruments, sound recording, stellar evolution, radio astronomy, and particle accelerators Specific â€“ GPS and the Large Hadron Collider. Investigate how physics applies to your chosen context. You need to clearly link key physics ideas together to provide a coherent picture of the physics relevant to your selected context. You may choose: producing a written report, preparing an oral presentation (with handouts), preparing a multi-media presentation, or constructing a poster. UNIT 2: Demonstrate understanding of Modern Physics Option 1. Nuclear fusion by 2030 Write a report for your local council about the physics of producing power using nuclear fusion. Research the subject. Write your report. In it, explain clearly the physics concepts and principles at work in a nuclear fusion power generator. Explain also how these concepts and principles work in conjunction with each other to create energy. Based on the physics, discuss the potential of nuclear power as a future energy source for your locality. Conclude your report with a recommendation(s) to the local council. They should be well supported by your earlier explanations of the relevant physics. Option 2. High-powered solar cells Write a report for your local electricity lines business (ELB) about the physics of solar cells. Research the subject. Write your report. In it, explain clearly the physics concepts and principles at work in a high-powered solar cell. Explain also how these concepts and principles work in conjunction with each other to create energy. Based on the physics, discuss the potential of high-powered solar cells as a future renewable energy source for your locality. Conclude your report with a recommendation(s) to the ELB. They should be well supported by your earlier explanations of the relevant physics. UNIT 3: Use physics knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue Option 1. Should your locality remain â€˜nuclear powerâ€™ free? Conduct research on electrical energy generation using nuclear power. Develop an informed personal response to the issue of your locality remaining nuclear power free based on the physics knowledge. The format of your response is an opinion article for the editorial pages of a newspaper. To prepare for this article you will research and explain the key physics ideas relating to electrical energy generation using nuclear power, identifying the potential benefits and risks to your locality. The benefits and risks may be related to economic, ethical, biological, or environmental factors. Keep a research log book (or folder/electronic record). All your research notes, outlines, drafts, and so on must be kept in this log book. You need to date your work and reference your sources as you take notes. Hand in your log book with your final article. In your article: provide key physics knowledge that includes:key physics concepts and processes that relate to electrical energy generation through the use of nuclear power physics and social implications â€“ the benefits and risks (for example, economic, ethical, biological or environmental) of nuclear power use the key physics knowledge you have gathered to state your personal position and recommended action(s) about your locality remaining nuclear power free justify your position and action(s) by providing supporting evidence to explain why you chose your position and action(s) analyse and prioritise the physics knowledge used to justify your position and recommended action(s). This may include: comparing the significance of implications of the issue on individuals and society considering the likely effectiveness of identified action(s) commenting on sources and information, considering ideas such as validity (date, peer reviewed, scientific acceptance), bias (attitudes, values, beliefs), weighing up how science ideas are used by different groups. Option 2. Renewable energy technology in new buildings â€“ should it be compulsory? In January 2011, scientists published peer-reviewed findings that suggested global energy demands could be reduced by 73% using energy efficient technologies in buildings, industries and transport. Your local council is investigating the feasibility of requiring renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines to be compulsory for new buildings. You are the consultant hired to prepare a presentation on this socio-scientific issue for their consideration. Use your physics knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue related to renewable energy technology. You are required to develop a presentation that: gives an informed personal response to the issue of whether renewable energy technology in new buildings should be compulsory includes recommendations of actions that could be taken as a result of your informed position. Research the physics of renewable energy technologies for buildings. This may include photo-voltaic solar panels and wind turbines, identifying the short and long-term benefits and drawbacks to individuals and society. The benefits and drawbacks may be related to an economic, ethical or environmental issue. Develop an informed personal response to your chosen issue of whether renewable energy technology in new buildings should be compulsory, based on physics knowledge. Develop suggestions for actions that could be taken. You will be assessed on the overall comprehensiveness of your presentation, whether it explains the relevant physics ideas, and your analysis and discussion of the issue(s). Keep a research logbook to record your notes, references, article outlines or plans, drafts of paragraphs, comments on the validity, bias or purpose of resources, and so on. This information will help you to prepare and refine your presentation. Topics you need to cover in your presentation provide physics knowledge that includes:physics concepts and processes that relate to the renewable energy technology for buildings. This may include ideas such as energy storage/links to the national grid, conversion between AC and DC, voltage and frequency considerations etc. a comparison of the renewable technologies in buildings with the technologies currently used to provide electricity physics related to social implications â€“ this may include possible short and long-term benefits and drawbacks to individuals, society and the environment use the physics knowledge you have gathered to state your personal position and recommend action(s) about compulsory renewable energy technology in new buildings justify your position and action(s) by providing supporting evidence to explain why you chose your position and action(s) analyse and prioritise the physics knowledge used to justify your position and recommended action(s). This may include: comparing the significance of implications of the issue on individuals and society considering the likely effectiveness of the identified action(s) commenting on sources and information, considering ideas such as validity (date, peer reviewed, scientific acceptance) and bias (attitudes, values, beliefs), and weighing up how science ideas are used by different groups. EXAMPLE OF AN INVESTIGATION Baby bouncers behave differently for different sized babies. This assessment activity involves modelling a â€˜baby bouncerâ€™ using a spring-mass system in order to test a physics theory involving two variables in a non-linear relationship. You will take suitable measurements, use techniques to maximise accuracy, process and graph the collected data, determine the equation of the non-linear relationship and critically compare this with the theoretical relationship between the variables. Plan and prepare the investigation The aim of the investigation is to find out how the period of oscillation, T, is affected by the mass, m, which is suspended on the spring. Construct a spring-mass system to model a baby bouncer. Gather data When gathering your data: gather a reasonable range of data points plot the data points and conduct graphical analysis decide what kind of relationship exists between the variables. Account for accuracy and uncertainty in your measurements at all steps during the investigation. Analyse data To analyse your data: Process your data, including uncertainties Transform your processed data in a way that allows you to plot a suitable linear graph that shows uncertainties Determine a mathematical relationship based on your linear graphs that links the period of oscillation, T, and the mass, m. Write the report Write your report using the data that you have gathered and analysed. In your report include: a summary of the investigative process a detailed presentation of your results and analysis, including graphical analysis that includes uncertainties a conclusion that states the equation of the relationship between the variables and compares this to the physics theory identification of how other uncontrollable variables may have affected the results consideration of the limitations of the theoryâ€™s applicability in the practical situation and/or at the extreme values of the independent variable a discussion of any unexpected outcomes of the processing of the results and how these have been caused and their impact on the validity of the experiment.