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Spinning Top

On Monday we were given a problem: Make a spinning top.  We had two paper plates, six pennies, a sharpened pencil, and some tape.  With no further instructions given, we were left to our own devices to solve the problem.  Though I cannot speak for my partner, I can say that I was not thinking of the engineering design process at the time.  However, the engineering design process was precisely how we were going about our task.  We had a problem to solve and we began by constructing our solution.  We taped the six evenly spaced pennies to the outside of one plate, then put the other plate on top.  We poked the pencil through (roughly) the center of the plates.  Then, we tried testing our results.  When it didn't work perfectly the first time, we made adjustments.  We would try placing our mass at different heights on the pencil.  We found that it worked the best when it was lower.  However, we did not pick up that we should have snapped the pencil in half to make the top more stable.  We learned this after.  Moment of inertia was crucial in this lab because a higher moment of inertia would mean the top would have greater angular momentum.  Increased angular momentum would mean that the top would be more resistant to change in its rotational motion and stay spinning longer.  We tried to maximize the moment of inertia of the top by placing the mass (the pennies) by the edge of the plate.  This way, the radius was greater.


On Friday, we had a little discussion in English regarding terminal velocity.  Thank goodness honestly, otherwise I probably would have fallen asleep.  That's what happens when you put a bunch of physics students together in an English class.  We will take over.  Anyway, it began by talking about the terminal velocity of cats and how they can survive very high jumps.  We then had to explain this concept of terminal velocity to our English teacher.  We told him that eventually, due to air resistance, an object will stop accelerating and will continue to fall at a constant velocity.  We also explained to him that the terminal velocity of a human is much greater than that of a cat, which is why we don't survive long falls when they do.  This led him to think about the show he's currently directing, The Triangle Factory Fire Project (inserts self promotion where I tell you that I am in the show and you all should come see it!).  He said, "oh yes, like in the play, and the actual event, all those girls jumped from the eighth and ninth floors and not one of them survived".  Sorry for making this so sad.  Though he was on the right track with his thinking, they would not yet have reached terminal velocity from that height,  but it would have only been worse if they did.  However, the point of this was not to make everyone sad by reminding them of this tragedy, but to show you how we can even talk about physics in English and tie it into theater and history.  And of course it was also to give our show a little shout out! ;)


One of my favorite things about this class is how it can lead to some of the most entertaining sort-of-on-topic-but-not-entirely conversations.  One recent conversation in class stands out in my mind as the spirit our group seems to have when we work together.  I wish I had done this post sooner so I could remember what exactly we were working on or how we got to this topic.  I believe we were working on the Work, Energy, and Power unit.  We were working through a problem when one of us said, "what would happen if all of the people on earth all stood in one place?  Like if all that mass were just in one spot?"  Naturally, that sparked an ongoing conversation about gravity and Newton's laws.  I can't remember exactly how long it went on, probably too long.  Eventually, after talking to Mr. Fullerton, we did the math assuming the average mass of a person and multiplying it by 8 billion.  We then realized that even all of that mass was still negligible compared to the mass of the earth.  So our grand conclusion?  Absolutely nothing would happen.  But it was a good talk.  The follow up to this was wondering what would happen if the moon were placed on top of the earth (besides like everything being destroyed).  That also made me think back to other physics conversations from last year, like my friend asking "how many fire extinguishers would it take to put out the sun?"  

Only the most important questions in physics.  


On a violin, there are two types of tuners.  There are the large black tuning pegs that anyone can easily see, and there are also fine tuners.  These are very tiny and are located on the ends of the string that are closer to the chin of the player.  The job of both sets of tuners is to adjust the tension in the string in order to produce a specific note.  On a violin, these notes are G, D, A, and E.  When the string is tighter, it produces a higher pitched sound.  when it's looser, the sound is lower.  Most often when tuning, strings need to be tightened a little because colder temperatures cause the wood in a violin to contract, leading the strings to loosen slightly. 

More often than not, the small, fine tuners are what is being used to tune the instrument.  This is because since they are so small, they only can tighten or loosen a string a little bit, making it easier to tune to an exact pitch.  The large tuners are only used when the strings are so out of tune that the fine tuners won't do anything.  These are much harder to use because it often gets worse before it gets better.  These tuners are only held in place by the string wrapped around it and the wood it is inside of.  They will stay in place if you don't move them, but there is a lot of tension in the string.  If you try to tighten a string with one of these tuners, sometimes it will end up falling even more flat because there is not enough friction to oppose the motion of the tuner rotating as the string tries to loosen.  This is why I have a tendency to ask Ms. Murrell to help me tune if it's that bad.  


Another violin post, yay! I'm sure many of you already understood what I was talking about in my previous post, but this topic will likely be new to those of you who do not play a string instrument.  Did you know that if you buy a new violin and just take it out and try to play it right away, it will make no sound? Now that's just crazy, right?  It may sound like it; but if this were to happen, it's because you missed one very important step.  You forgot to put rosin on your bow.  

A bow is made of horse hairs that are connected on each end to a stick that is typically made of wood or a synthetic material.  On their own, the hairs on a bow are very smooth; so if you were to rub them across the strings of a violin without putting on rosin, the bow would simply slide across the string without causing the strings to vibrate, which means no sound.  

When rosin is applied, it gives the bow some stickiness.  This will increase the friction between the hairs on the bow and the string.  Because of this friction, the bow will try to stick a little to the strings.  It will grab the strings, causing them to vibrate as you drag your bow across.  This is part of what makes a violin have such a clear sound.  You have to reapply rosin every now and then.  You start to notice that your violin isn't making much sound, especially when playing higher notes, when it is in need of more rosin.


This is one of what will likely be a few violin blog posts because, well, I just love playing the violin.  One of the most important parts of a violin (or any string instrument for that matter) is the body. The body of a violin is made of wood that is curved on the top and bottom and is very thin.  A violin is very light, but the body is still strong enough to handle the tension of the strings.  The body creates a sound box for the vibrating strings, making the notes you play audible. 

I also have an electric violin.  Electric violins come in a variety of shapes and colors, unlike acoustic violins which are standard for the most part.  These violins can have such variety because the body is not so important.  In fact, some of the most expensive electric violins don't even have a body!  Mine has a bit of a frame and is blue (which is much cooler than one with no body at all in my opinion), but no hollow sound box.  The violin needs to be plugged into an amp to make sound.  When I try to play my electric violin without plugging it in, it's almost silent.  This is why a good body is so important in acoustic violins.

And here's a picture of my violin, electric violin, and my ukulele as an added bonus! :)



Whenever I go camping, a Frisbee is a must.  My brother and I can spend a significant amount of time throwing one around (and a significant amount of time running after it when one of us makes a bad throw).  The last time we went camping, my brother tried to throw the Frisbee without spin.  When he did this, it fell to the ground almost immediately.  Why? I thought.  Well, spinning the Frisbee provides angular momentum.  Angular momentum is what keeps it stable.  The more spin you put on a Frisbee, the more stable it is.  You may have noticed that if you put a very little amount of spin on a Frisbee, it wobbles and does not go as far.  To get a Frisbee to go farther on a more accurate path, put as much spin on it as possible. 


Last week in physics, we completed what was called the Newton's second Law Lab in groups, in which we were to determine the mass of a cart without using any scales or balances.  The procedure was only meant to take us one, maybe two, class periods.  However, our group went into a third period.  We kept trying to collect new data because we had a larger percent error than we would have liked and assumed we were doing something wrong.  We ended up spending a lot more time trying to get better results than we should have, and then learned that our results were fine to begin with and that we had done nothing wrong except waste time trying to get better ones.  Because of this, we have now lost some class time to get other things done.  We now know that sometimes results may not look exactly the way you want them to in a lab, even when you're doing everything right.  In the future, we won't let results that aren't perfect hold us back when we know what we did was correct.


I think this title is suitable for this post considering the date (I'm posting this about a week later than I should have).  The last two weeks have been interesting.  To start, there was that kinematics test on the 21st, and I did not exactly get an ideal grade on it.  However, I know why.  I did not plan well enough what exactly I should be doing each day in school and at home, which kept me from using my time as effectively as I could have been.  I think it's safe to say I fell slightly behind, leading me to scramble a bit in the end.  On top of this, I had other things on my mind.  The day of the test, my German exchange partner, Gina, was coming to live with me for a week.  This also meant that I would be missing out on a significant amount of class time that week in addition to time at home that I would be spending with her.  Naturally, I was a little panicked when I came to school Tuesday having to start a unit that everyone else had already been working on in class and at home.  However, I got right down to business and began working through some problems in class and during my free period.  It only took two days for me to feel better about where I was.  On Friday, I woke up to get Gina to the airport by 3:30 a.m. and got home around 4:45.  I decided it was no use going back to sleep (and then learned that if you want to stay awake at 5 in the morning, DO NOT read about supply curves) so I was half dead in school that day.  Then I went to physics.  To my own surprise, I actually got a lot done, and it may have been one of my most productive and successful days in this class so far.  (Side note: Even though it worked out pretty well for me yesterday, I am not going to start getting next to no sleep on a consistent basis.  Health is important too!) At that point, I was feeling great and I knew I only had a little more catching up to do, as I am doing now, until I would be right on track again.  With support from you guys, I think I will be doing pretty well now.  Thanks for putting up with my rambling, I realized this is a pretty long one!



Video 1:



1: Learning is fast

2: Knowledge is composed of isolated facts

3: Being good at a subject is a matter of inborn talent

4: I’m really good at multitasking



The one that resonates with me is about multitasking.  I don’t really have an issue with being distracted by things around me, like my phone, but I often find it difficult to focus on one thing at a time and I have a tendency to jump from one thing to another and back very quickly.



Metacognition is how well one thinks they really understand a subject.  Typically those with more accurate metacognition have a better understanding.


Video 2:



The most important thing when studying is what you think about while doing it.



Deep processing, rather than shallow processing, is when a person thinks about the meaning of information and makes connections between pieces of information when learning.  On the other hand, shallow processing is learning isolated facts and is not beneficial to learning.



1: Minimizing distractions and maximizing focus- I’ll study in my room, phone across the room, where it is quiet.

2: Developing accurate metacognition- I can “quiz” myself and see how well I’m doing on a regular basis through practice problems and webassigns.

3: Deep, accurate processing of critical concepts- I will focus on how various topics are interrelated.

4: Practicing retrieval and application- I will consistently work on practice problems where I can apply what I am learning.


Video 3:



1: Elaboration- I will make connections between topics as we learn them to increase my understanding.

2: Distinctiveness-  I’ll keep in mind what important details stand out in each topic to set them apart from others to avoid confusion.

3: Personal-  Blog posts should keep me relating classwork to my daily life.

4: Appropriate retrieval and application- I’ll quiz myself as I work through topics so I know which ones I need to spend more time on.

5: Automaticity-  Hopefully my good skills will become a routine that I will not have to try to force myself to do.

6: Overlearning-  the most important topics for me to understand I will study so that I can recall the information quickly.


Video 4:



1: What does a good question look like?

2: What kinds of questions are the most beneficial?

3: How will asking questions help me learn?

4: What should I consider when asking questions?

5: How should I organize my notes?

6: What should I be thinking about as I take notes?



The note taking tips for in class lectures apply to videos because, like in lectures, you shouldn’t try to mindlessly copy everything you hear.  You should try to consider the key concepts when listening to a lecture or watching a video and get those down on the paper.  They should also be organized so that they can be understood later, otherwise they won’t be any help.


C.) I’ll form a study group that will have clear goals of what we plan to accomplish each time we meet.


Video 5:




1: Panic

2: Go into denial

3: Do nothing

4: Wait to ask for help

5: Skip some classes to focus on others

6: Fall further behind while waiting to catch up

7: Ignore small assignments

8: Give up




1: Examine how you prepared, be honest

2: Review the exam, focus on mistakes.

3: Talk with your teacher to make sure you are taking the right steps

4: Examine your study habits

5: Create a plan to help improve



1: Commit time and effort

2: Minimize distractions

3: Attend class

4: Set realistic goals

5: Don’t begin to slide

6: Don’t give away points


First Blog

Most of my time is spent either doing homework or playing violin and ukulele.  Depending on the season, I am often at rehearsals for musicals and sometimes black box shows.  As you can probably tell, music is one of my strongest interests, both playing and listening.  I'm not exactly sure what I want to do with my life, but I know no matter what music will always be a part of it.  Last year, I took AP Physics 1 and really enjoyed my experience and learned a lot.  However, I originally signed up to take AP Chemistry this year.  When I got my schedule, I knew that was not really what I wanted to do.  There was a lot more I wanted to learn about physics before going off to college, and I knew I was up for the challenge.  I'm very excited to expand my knowledge of physics and learn to apply it to my life.  I am a little nervous about this flipped classroom setting, but I know I'll adjust to it.  I have a good feeling about this year.

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