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

Posts Tagged ‘Mousetrap

We just finished this project today. It makes me nuts, but I like the results. My room looks like a junkyard for almost a month. You have to be able to live with chaos or don’t try this in school.

If you are familiar with the game “Mousetrap” then you get the idea of the project. This year, I let the students choose their groups, they made up teams of four or five students. With twenty groups in all, they set out to create their own ten step project.

It seems easy, but it is more challenging than it first appears. The students had about three weeks of class time to try to make these work. They bring in old toys, dollar store junk, and anything they can find to create their project. It culminates with a full day of setting up and presenting their projects to the rest of the school.

The link below is a shortened version of one of the videos I use to introduce the topic. This is the Mythbusters Christmas special. In the full length version (I recommend that one over the linked file), they take quite a few attempts for them to make it work all the way through, and they do this kind of stuff for a living.

Some helpful documents for your use:     Rube Goldberg Rules score-sheet-rev-c (5/29/09 –  I’ve updated the scoring rubric to include a minimum time for the machine to run)

Also, if you Google “rube goldberg” you will get an endless supply of videos, including a large number of Japanese projects with an odd and addictive little ditty.  I’d like to know what the little flags say, can someone translate?

What’s New in 2013/2014?

Every year brings a change, this one is no exception.

I will be picking up the sophomore honors Algebra II class to keep them separate from the juniors. This should help accelerate them and put them on a stronger track towards Calculus. Looks like there will be only one section each of Physics and Calculus, but still two of Robotics & Engineering.

Hot topics this year are going to be the Common-Core Standards, Standards-Based Grading (SBG), improving AP Calculus scores, and somehow adding Python, maybe as a club.

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