Physics & Physical Science Demos, Labs, & Projects for High School Teachers

Summer Assignment

Posted on: June 13, 2010

The year is rapidly coming to a close.  Finals are over, clean-up has begun.  But as I am one to never leave well enough alone, I have decided to create a summer assignment for the incoming physics students.

So many good things are going on.  I will have three physics classes and only one conceptual class next year.  That alone is enough to bring a tear to my eye.  I want these kids more prepared so I don’t have to spend the first two or three weeks reviewing what they should already know.

So not only am I creating a set of summer assignments, oh no, I’m creating a blog with the summer assignments 0utlined and posted and they have to do review and quiz work at WebAssign.  This a just a ton of work for me since none of it currently exists.  As of today I have the blog and WebAssign structure in place, now I’m going to create the actual lessons and online quiz work.  The beauty of the blog and WebAssign is that I don’t need to have it all finished before school ends.  The work due June 30th is posted, now I’m working on the assignment for July 15.  The students will all have their accounts and password this week before they leave for the summer.

It all looks good right now, but I’m sure there will be glitches along the way.  Who else has done this?  What am I missing?


7 Responses to "Summer Assignment"

Have you looked into UT Quest? It costs significantly less than WebAssign and has similar functionality.

I used Quest for my Honors homework this year and have setup my AP summer assignment on it. While there are additional features I wish it had, I have been overall pleased.

I’d appreciate it if you could provide a link for that site. I went googling but didn’t find the right one.

I don’t find the cost of WebAssign to be prohibitive. It’s about $10 per student and includes thousands of questions and problems from a vast selection of books. I like that you select your actual textbook for the course.

We’re in the trial stage right now with the summer assignments, but I like the idea that it becomes very difficult to copy a homework assignment when it is submitted in the evening.

The learning curve has been a bit steep, they do some really odd things. For example, if you want to delete a student, there is nothing about this in their 300+ page manual. You can drop a student from your roster, but he shows up as a dropped student. You delete that student by dropping the student again while viewing dropped students. I’ve had a few issues like this where their wording on their menus is very unclear. I spent at least 30 minutes searching the manual and playing until I figured that one out.


Here is the link

I used to be free, but now they are charging somewhere around $200 for the entire school after a 3 month trial period.

They continue to add new functionality continually.

Quest also has question banks, though they are not sorted by book.

We had to do Webassign for my physics classes, and I found them to be very helpful and worthwhile. I know they are probably a pain to set up for the teacher, especially if this is the first time you are using the software, but it looks like you are really on top of this. Hopefully this will let you hit the ground running in the fall.

As for issues and glitches… well make sure you tell the students how accurate their answers should be (i.e. rounding) because that could cause some strife. Other than that, the site went down a few times very close to the deadline of the assignment, which was great for us students because we got extensions. Probably not much of an issue during the summer though.

Let me know if you want any more perspective from the student’s side.

Andrew, you are exactly right about the rounding. Their last lesson is significant figures. One of my students sent me a note, he said the exact answer was 26.8224 but when he put in 27, it was wrong. So he tried 27.2???? Yeah, I don’t get that either. Based on a 1% error margin that I thought was the default, 27 should have been correct.

Anyway, I’m struggling with the manual, it’s written by a crew who all forgot their ADHD meds. It jumps all over the place and I can’t seem to find what I need. Their help staff is great. Did you ever contact them for help as a student?

Haha yeah that’s a pretty strange approximation, honestly though for all the questions that didn’t require significant figures I always put in a healthy amount more than I needed. I know, shameful right? But I just didn’t want to deal with issues like that.

I actually expected the manual to be something like that… I remember once I needed to figure out how to input a certain greek letter and it took me forever to find it because the help manual just wanted to tell you about every blasted feature haha.

I never contacted the Webassign staff, though my teachers certainly had a lot of contact with them. At the very least they emailed about the service disruptions I mentioned earlier and they seemed to respond quickly. Hope you are able to iron everything out!

Where did you post your summer assignments? I am a homeschooling mom of fraternal twin 7th grade boys, and we have been studying physics at a middle-school level. I found your site when looking up Mythbusters science and love your idea on using them to teach the Scientific Method and do a “science far” kind of project! So I thought I’d look around you site some more and wondered about these summer projects.

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