So taking a page from Lee Trampleasure’s blog “Bouncing Ball Lab Introduces Models and Foreshadows Future Physics Concepts,” I tried a version of the Bouncing Ball Lab with my Regents Physics students on the 3rd day of school. Our goal was to introduce our general physics philosophy, start using the metric system, review graphing procedures, slope, y-intercept, equation of a line, and really get students to begin to understand that graphs have meaning.

After reviewing the metric system briefly, we took about a period and a half (some classes shortened due to fire drills) to determine our procedures and best practices, collect data, graph and analyze data, and finished with a roughly 10-minute debrief. A little more time would have been helpful, but for a first run through early in the school year it worked pretty well. With some coaching through the process, I was quite pleased with the product of many of the groups.

Further, the lab introduces many of the modeling concepts and practices we’ll use throughout the year. Though I haven’t been through a formal on-campus multi-day workshop (yet) on modeling, I have sat in several workshops and appreciate the strategy that allows students to build their own understandings through this process, something we try to emulate quite regularly throughout the year.

My department head is actually sharing some of the whiteboard results with our math department coordinator to demonstrate how some of the math skills the students are being taught in their math-specific classes are utilized in physics. Hopefully it’s the start of some further synergies.

Without further ado, some of their work: