Tag Archives: standards

General Physics Standards

This is a follow-up post to the Honors Physics Standards post that enumerates the standards that we have defined for our General Physics class. As I mentioned previously, this year, our entire school is replacing the traditional report card with a standards-based report card. The standards reflected on this report card, which we call report-card standards, represent an aggregation of several of the more-specific standards and are common across both high schools in our district. For General Physics, we have defined the following report-card standards for the whole year.

Report-Card Standards

  • science as a process
  • understand the basic concepts of kinematics
  • understand, explain, discuss, and apply Newton’s Laws
  • understand the basic concepts of energy and energy conservation
  • understand the basic concepts of momentum and its conservation
  • explain, discuss, and calculate the properties of electrostatics
  • explain, discuss, and calculate the properties of electric circuits
  • understand, explain, and discuss the properties of magnetism
  • describe wave type, properties, and interactions
  • understand the relationships among science, technology, and society in historical and contemporary contexts

Below are the more-specific standards that we use for General Physics during the fall semester. These standards are influenced by objectives defined by a group of physics teachers working together at the county level as well as Modeling Instruction.

Fall Semester Standards

STT 1. I can build a qualitative model, identify and classify variables, and make tentative qualitative predictions about the relationship between variables.

STT 2. I can select appropriate measuring devices, consider accuracy of measuring devices, maximize range of data, and calculate error propagation for an experiment.

STT 3. I can develop linear relationships and relate mathematical and graphical expressions.

STT Lab 1. I can create and populate data tables for an experiment.

STT Lab 2. I can measure phenomena in the laboratory with minimum error.

STT Lab 3. I can create graphs from data measured in an experiment.

STT Lab 4. I can analyze graphs of data measured in an experiment.

STT Lab 5. I can analyze uncertainty in an experiment.

STT Lab 6. I can write a complete formal experiment report according to the specified format.

CVPM 1. I can distinguish between scalar and vector quantities.

CVPM 2. I can describe and analyze constant-velocity motion based on graphs, numeric data, words, and diagrams.

BFPM 1. I can draw a free body diagram and add vectors graphically to find net force.

BFPM 2. I can identify the Law of Inertia (Newton’s 1st Law) to various situations in the real world.

BFPM 3. I can identify action-reaction force pairs (Newton’s 3rd Law) and the fact that they act on two separate bodies.

CAPM 1. I can describe and analyze uniform-acceleration motion based on graphs, numeric data, words, and diagrams.

CAPM 2. I can apply the various kinematics equations in one dimension.

UBFPM 1. I can draw a free body diagram and use the concept of net force to solve problems using Newton’s 2nd Law

UBFPM 2. I can identify how different factors affect the force of friction and can differentiate between static and kinetic friction.

UBFPM 3. I can solve problems using the coefficient of friction.

UBFPM Lab 1. I can determine the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration using experimental data.

PMPM 1. I can justify that if the only force acting on an object is gravity, it will have the same constant downward acceleration regardless of mass, velocity or position.

PMPM 2. I can apply the various kinematics equations in two dimensions while recognizing the independence of horizontal and vertical variables.

PMPM Lab 1. Model the path of a projectile based on experimental data and use this model to hit the predicted location.

PMPM Lab 2. Compare predicted values based on a model against experimental results.

COEM 1. I can identify that energy is transferred and solve problems using conservation of mechanical energy (kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy)

COEM 2. I can identify work as a change in energy and calculate its based on force and displacement.

COEM 3. I can analyze the rate of energy change of a system in terms of power.

COEM Lab 1: Perform an experiment to compare the loss of gravitational potential energy and the gain of kinetic energy of an object moving down an  incline in order to calculate the energy transferred between the system and the environment.

COMM 1. I can identify momentum of an object as the product of mass and velocity and relate the change in momentum (Impulse) to the force acting on it over a period of time.

COMM 2. I can analyze the momentum of a system of objects in one dimension and distinguish between elastic and inelastic collisions

COMM 3. I can solve problems using conservation of momentum were the net external force is zero.

Spring Semester Standards

ES 1. I can identify the charge on each sub-atomic particle and describe the behavior that each has on each other and how these particles move in a conductor.

ES 2. I can apply the principle of conservation of charge (charge is neither created nor destroyed just transferred from one object to another) to predict the movement of charges in insulators and conductors.

ES 3. I can predict attraction and repulsion between charged and neutral objects and predict how charges will redistribute based on charging by contact and induction.

ES 4. I can apply Coulomb’s Law to two charged particles.

ES 5. I can describe an electric field and identify the electric field diagrams for a one or two charge system and identify the direction of the force experienced by a charge in an electric field.

ES Lab 01. I can predict the charge on a neutral object knowing the process by which it was charged.

ES Lab 02. I can demonstrate how to put a charge on a conductor using the processes of conduction and induction.

CIR 1. I can recognize and analyze series and parallel circuits.

CIR 2. I can apply how energy is conserved within a circuit (Loop rule) and how charge is conserved within a circuit (Junction Rule)

CIR 3. I can calculate equivalent resistance and apply Ohm’s Law.

CIR 4. I can calculate the power used by an electronic device.

CIR Lab 1: I can measure voltage and current with an appropriate meter.

CIR Lab 2: I can draw a circuit diagram and build it correctly based on a description.

CIR Lab 3: I can draw a circuit diagram for a circuit based on bulb brightness and observations of the circuit.

EM 1. I can recognize and explain what causes magnetic fields.

EM 2. I can identify the direction of magnetic fields.

EM 3. I can distinguish between magnetic fields and electric fields.

EM Lab 1. I can understand the relationship between magnetic and electric fields.

EM Lab 2. I can recognize that an object must be charged and moving in a magnetic field in order to experience a magnetic force.

WA 1. Know and identify the following features of a wave: amplitude, wavelength, frequency, crest, trough, node, antinode, and period.

WA 2. Identify, and compare and contrast, the two types of waves and how they transfer energy.

WA 3. Apply the principle of superposition to explain constructive and destructive interference of waves.

WA 4. Conceptually and mathematically describe reflection and refraction of waves.

WA 5. Conceptually and mathematically demonstrate the relationship between velocity, frequency, and wavelength for a wave, and how wave medium affects these variables.

Understand the relationships among science, technology, and society in historical and contemporary contexts.

Honors Physics Standards

This year, our entire school is replacing the traditional report card with a standards-based report card. I’m excited that students and parents will see more than a letter that represents their understanding of physics. The standards reflected on this report card, which we call report-card standards, represent an aggregation of several of the more-specific standards and are common across both high schools in our district. For Honor Physics, we have defined the following report-card standards for the whole year:

Report-Card Standards

  • science as a process
  • understand the basic concepts of kinematics
  • understand, explain, discuss, and apply Newton’s Laws
  • understand the basic concepts of energy and energy conservation
  • understand the basic concepts of momentum and its conservation
  • explain, discuss, and calculate the properties of electrostatics
  • explain, discuss, and calculate the properties of electric circuits
  • understand, explain, and discuss the properties of magnetism
  • describe wave type, properties, and interactions
  • explain, discuss, and calculate the properties of geometric optics
  • understand the relationships among science, technology, and society in historical and contemporary contexts

Below are the more-specific standards that we use for Honors Physics during the fall semester. They reflect a couple of lessons learned during our first two years of standards-based grading. First, we’ve significantly reduced the number of standards. Too many standards made assessment and reassessment too difficult. However, the problem with this is that the standards become too broad for students to know what is expected. So, we supplement each standard with a few daily “learning targets” to make the expectations clear. As documented in the syllabus for Honors Physics, standards prefixed with (FR), for the more challenging standards that are initially assessed with free-response assessments, count twice as much as the other standards. The first number that prefixes the standard corresponds to the chapter in Giancoli, 5 edition.

I should disclose that, unlike my General Physics class which strongly reflected the Modeling Instruction methodology, my Honors Physics class does not as strongly. That said, many of the pedagogical techniques of Modeling Instruction are incorporated into the class.

Fall Semester Standards

SaaP 1 Select reasonable values for uncertainty of measuring devices and calculate uncertainty for derived measurements.

2.1 Distinguish between and calculate vector and scalar quantities (e.g., distance, displacement, speed, velocity).

2.2 Distinguish between and calculate instantaneous and average quantities for velocity and acceleration.

2.3 Solve problems involving objects with constant acceleration moving in straight lines.

2.4 Analyze straight-line motion by interpreting graphs.

2.5 (FR) solve problems involving falling objects by applying the kinematic equations.

SaaP 2 (Lab) Create and populate data tables for an experiment.

SaaP 3 (Lab) Measure lengths and time intervals in the laboratory with minimum error.

SaaP 4 (Lab) Create graphs from data measured in an experiment.

SaaP 5 (Lab) Use graphs of data measured in an experiment to perform analysis.

SaaP 6 (Lab) Analyze error in an experiment.

SaaP 7 (Lab) Write a complete formal experiment report according to the specified format

3.1 Add and subtract vectors using graphical and trigonometric techniques.

3.2 Describe the motion of a projectile.

3.3 Solve problems involving projectiles with an initial horizontal velocity.

3.4 Describe the motion of an object, in 1 dimension, in terms of various frames of reference including a boat moving in a current and an airplane moving through wind.

3.5 (FR) Solve problems involving projectiles with an initial velocity at an arbitrary angle.

3.6 (FR) Describe the motion of an object, in 2 dimensions, in terms of various frames of reference including a boat moving in a current and an airplane moving through wind.

3.7 (Lab) Model the path of a projectile based on experimental data and use this model to hit the predicted location.

3.8 (Lab) Compare predicted values based on a model against experimental results.

4.1 Explain everyday phenomenon in terms of Newton’s Laws of Motion.

4.2 Distinguish between mass and weight and convert between the two.

4.3 Solve problems in terms of Newton’s second law.

4.4 Solve problems involving friction.

4.5 (FR) Solve force problems using free body diagrams and net force equations for single objects.

4.6 (FR) Solve force problems using free body diagrams and net force equations for objects on inclined planes.

4.7 (FR) Solve force problems using free body diagrams and net force equations for multiple connected objects.

SaaP 8 (Lab) Create data tables and graphs to display the relationship between three related variables.

SaaP 9 (Lab) Create a general model of the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration based on experimental data.

5.1 Know and apply the velocity, acceleration, and forces that comprise uniform circular motion and distinguish from those that do not.

5.2 Solve problems involving objects experiencing a centripetal force.

5.3 Apply Newton’s Law to objects undergoing horizontal uniform circular motion.

5.4 Apply Newton’s Law to objects undergoing vertical circular motion.

5.5 Define Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation and use it to solve problems.

5.6 (FR) Solve problems using free body diagrams and net force equations for objects undergoing uniform circular motion with forces at arbitrary angles (e.g., inclined surfaces).

5.7 (FR) Solve problems using free body diagrams and net force equations for objects undergoing uniform circular motion in orbit.

6.1. Know and apply the definition of work to solve problems involving a constant force and a varying force.

6.2. Solve problems involving translational kinetic energy and the work-energy principle.

6.3. Solve problems involving gravitational potential energy (GPE) and elastic potential energy (EPE).

6.4. Know the law of conservation of mechanical energy and apply it to solve problems involving translational motion.

6.5. Know the definition of power and apply the equations for power to solve problems.

6.6. (FR) Know the law of conservation of energy and use it to solve problems involving dissipative forces.

6.7. (Lab) Perform an experiment to compare the loss of PE and the gain of KE of an object moving down an incline in order to calculate the force of friction along the incline.

6.8. (Lab) Explain the results of an experiment by discussing the concepts of work, KE, PE and apply the conclusions to other applications.

7.1. Use the definition of linear momentum to solve problems.

7.2. Apply the law of conservation of momentum to interactions in a 1-dimensional closed system.

7.3. Apply the law of conservation of momentum to perfectly inelastic interactions in a 1-dimensional closed system.

7.4. Use the definition of impulse to solve problems.

7.5. (FR) Apply the law of conservation of momentum to interactions in a 2-dimensional closed system.

7.6. (FR) Apply the laws of conservation of momentum and energy to solve problems involving elastic and inelastic interactions in one and two dimensions.

7.7. (Lab) Use the laws of conservation of momentum and conservation of energy to calculate the initial velocity of a projectile shot into a pendulum.

8.1. Know and apply the definitions, symbols, and units for lever arm, moment arm, moment of a force, and torque.

9.1. Know and apply the conditions of equilibrium of concurrent forces to solve problems.

9.2. Know the following terms and their use to solve problems: elongation, stress, strain, shear, elastic modulus, shear modulus, and bulk modulus.

9.3. Know the following terms and use them to solve problems: fracture and ultimate strength of materials.

9.4. (FR) Know and apply the conditions of equilibrium of concurrent forces and parallel forces to solve problems.

9.5. (Lab) Apply the conditions of equilibrium to find the value of an unknown mass.

9.6. (Lab) Apply the conditions of equilibrium to create a mobile.

9.7. (Lab) Apply the principles of equilibrium, stress, and strain and the characteristics of materials to design a bridge that meets the specifications.

9.8. (Lab) Apply the principles of equilibrium, stress, and strain and the characteristics of materials to build a bridge that exceeds the required parameters.

Spring Semester Standards

11.1. Solve for various properties (energy, displacement, velocity, frequency, period) of a simple harmonic oscillators.

11.2. Describe the behavior of pulses in strings or slinkies in terms of reflection, superposition, resonance, standing waves, and harmonics.

11.3. Distinguish between transverse and longitudinal waves and define the following in a wave: amplitude, wavelength, frequency, wave velocity, node, antinode.

11.4. (FR) Solve problems involving standing waves in strings.

12.1. (Lab) Experimentally determine the speed of sound from the wavelengths and frequencies of several sounds.

12.2. List the properties of sound and describe how each is related to wave properties.

12.3. Solve problems involving the intensity level of sound.

12.4. Solve problems involving harmonics with string instruments and open or closed-end tube instruments.

12.5. Solve problems involving the interference of sound waves (e.g., beats, shock wave).

12.6. Solve problems involving the relationship between velocity, frequency, and wavelength (including the Doppler Effect).

16.1. Apply Electron Theory to the behavior of static charges, conductors, insulators, and electroscopes.

16.2. (Lab) Apply Electron Theory to describe how an electrophorus can be charged and transfer that charge to other objects.

16.3. Apply Coulomb’s Law to charges aligned in one dimension.

16.4. Know the properties and calculate the strength of an electric field between two point source electrodes, between two plate electrodes, and inside and outside a spherical shell conductor.

16.5. (FR) Solve problems involving the electric force and electric field due to charges in two dimensions.

17.1. Define electrical potential energy, electric potential, and electric potential difference and solve problems involving these quantities.

17.2. Know the properties of capacitors and solve problems involving parallel-plate capacitors.

17.3. (FR) Calculate the electric potential due to point charges.

18.1. Apply the relationships between current and charge; voltage, current, and resistance; and resistance, temperature, resistivity, and length in DC and AC circuits.

18.2. Analyze the power dissipated in electrical circuits.

19.1. (Lab) Draw, construct, and analyze a combination circuit given its description.

19.2. Calculate the net resistance in series and parallel circuits.

19.3. Conceptually evaluate the effect of resistors, capacitors, and meters in series and parallel circuits.

19.4. (FR) Use Kirchoff’s rules to analyze I, R, and V in combination series and parallel circuits.

19.5. (FR) Analyze circuits containing capacitors in series and parallel.

19.6. (FR) Know how meters work and how they affect the circuits they measure.

20.1. Explain the cause and characteristics of the magnetic field of a permanent magnet and an electromagnet.

20.2. Find the direction of the force on a charged particle moving in a magnetic field.

20.3. Calculate the magnitude of the force on a charged particle moving in a magnetic field.

20.4. Determine the magnitude and direction of the force on a current-carrying wire in external magnetic fields and magnetic fields generated by other current-carrying wires.

20.5. (Lab) Build an electric motor.

20.6. (Lab) Explain why the armature of the electric motor rotates describing what factors affect its speed and direction of rotation.

20.7. (Lab) Apply the effects of magnetics fields and electric fields on charged particles to analyze the behavior of a cyclotron.

21.1. Use Lenz’s Law and the right (or left) hand rule for straight wires and for coils to predict the direction of the induced current and emf when a wire is moved across a magnetic field.

21.2. Know and use the relationship between magnetic flux and magnetic field strength to solve problems and calculate the emf induced in a wire when it is moved across or within a magnetic field.

21.3. Describe what is meant by and solve problems involving “back emf” or “counter emf.”

21.4. (FR) Calculate input voltage, current, and power and output voltage, current, and power for transformers.

21.5. (FR) Solve problems combining the concepts of circuits, electromagnetic force, and electromagnetic induction.

22.1. Describe the properties of electromagnetic waves and the major components of the electromagnetic spectrum.

23.1. Know and apply the law of reflection and determine image type, image orientation, magnification, f, do, di, hi, and ho given the appropriate information for plane mirrors and spherical mirrors.

23.2. (FR) Know and apply the three rules for locating images in curved mirrors using ray diagrams.

23.3. Describe the refraction of light, tell what causes it and what is meant by the index of refraction; describe total internal reflection and the conditions that are required; and use Snell’s Law to solve problems including calculating the critical angle.

23.4. (Lab) Measure the critical angle for light and calculate the index of refraction of acrylic using the critical angle.

23.5. Determine image type, image orientation, magnification, f, do, di, hi, and ho given the appropriate information for spherical lenses.

23.6. (FR) Know the three rules for making ray diagrams for lenses and apply these rules to find the size, location, and type of image formed.

23.7. (FR) Solve problems involving combinations of lenses.

23.8. (Lab) Find the focal length of a double convex lens, investigate the kind of images formed at various distances by convex and concave lenses.

Targets Calendars

One goal that my team has for this year is to help students become more responsible for managing their own learning. One way we do this is to encourage them to track the development of their understanding on targets calendars. Targets calendars (i.e., standards calendars) enumerate the targets (standards) for the current unit and associate targets with specific days, activities, and homework assignments. The targets calendars for my General Physics class and Enriched (Honors) Physics class are a bit different due to the different structure of each course.

In General Physics, there are weekly quizzes and each target is assessed for three consecutive weeks (the 1st, 2nd, 3rd columns). The best two of three scores (on a 1-4 scale) comprise the overall score (the Overall column).

In Enriched Physics, there is only one assessment for a target in class (the A1 column). We encourage students to perform their own self assessment in preparation for this assessment (the SA column). If a student doesn’t demonstrate mastery of the target, they have a second opportunity to do so outside of class (the A2 column). However, they are first encouraged to perform additional practice and seek assistance before this second attempt. Again, we encourage them to self assess before the second attempt (column A2P).

Our targets need refinement but we are improving them each year. Hopefully, if interested, you can adapt the structure to your classes. Leave a comment if you have links to your own organizers that help your students manage their learning.

generalTargetsCalendar.pdf

enrichedTargetsCalendar.pdf

How Many Standards?

When my colleague and I started our standards-based grading journey in the Fall of 2009, we started with a list of objectives defined years previously by a now retired teacher. Since our goal was to make minimal changes to the curriculum and focus on changing the methodology for the class, we decided to use these objectives as the starting point for our standards (which we refer to as “targets”).

What I quickly learned is that I needed to know exactly how I would provide multiple learning activities and multiple summative assessments for each and every standard. Our first unit had 26 standards! While several were lab-specific, that was way too many! We immediately appreciated the importance of defining fewer and more general standards.

How many standards are right for a unit; how many for a semester? I think the answer is different for every class, but after a year of experience, I’ve found that seven or eight standards of which one or two may be lab-specific works well for our honor-level physics class and students.

I just finished revising the standards for the upcoming Fall semester for this class. I ended up with about sixty standards for the semester. This is a fast-paced class and that is reflected in the number of standards. In comparison, my regular-level physics class will have a little more than half as many standards this Fall.

Am I completely satisfied with the number and granularity of the standards for the Fall semester? It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but, no, I’m not completely satisfied. I think I did the best I could balancing the tradeoff between a manageable number of standards from an assessment perspective and sufficiently specific standards such that students are clear on what they need to understand.

I’m not positive how I’m going to improve this aspect of the methodology, but I think the eventual solution is to move to a two-tier system. The top tier would consist of fewer, higher-level standards that are assessed and reported while being manageable. The second tier would contain many more specific sub-standards (“targets”) that students can readily understand.

Please feel free to leave a comment and share your approach for defining standards.

Reflections on A Framework for Science Education

I just finished reading the National Research Council’s preliminary public draft of A Framework for Science Education. Since there has been some confusion, I’ll mention that this document is a framework for science and engineering education and not a collection of standards. Standards and curricula will likely be developed in the context of this framework.

As an engineer, I found it refreshing that the framework focuses on both science and engineering and the connections and similarities between them. Given the amount of time I spent as an engineer reading and writing technical documents (and the time I just spent reading this document), I was pleased that one of the practices was reading and analyzing technical documents. As someone interested in the history of science and engineering, the framework confirmed my experience that sharing the historical perspective increases students’ interest in science and engineering.

I don’t know if there was an explicit effort by the framework’s authors to incorporate the principles of the Modeling Methodology, but, regardless, the framework’s practices are closely aligned with it. Both model building and questioning are practices enumerated in the framework. I hope to better incorporate both of these aspects of modeling into my classroom this year.

In the prototype learning progressions, some specific concepts are enumerated. I was surprised by some of the concepts included. The emphasis on waves as a core idea was intriguing since, in my limited experience, sound and electromagnetic waves are not always part of a typical physics curriculum. For example, the prototype learning progressions included the concepts of modulation of electromagnetic waves and diffraction.

Overall, the framework’s architecture of core ideas, cross-cutting elements, and practices and its philosophy of depth versus breadth reinforces the direction that I believe my team is heading in physics. Of course, we’ll have to see how this framework influences the standards and curriculum developed within it.