In an effort to finish the year off right, I borrowed heavily from several Physics Teachers and had my students do capstone projects. I was very impressed with many of the projects. Here is the rubric they were given and graded against as well as some images of several of the posters they completed.
Since this was my first year, I wasn’t able to give them many examples of what i wanted; however, this wasn’t too big of a deal. All of the groups with the exception of a couple had all of the necessary elements plus some.
The hardest part of the whole ordeal was getting students to think scientifically. Many just wanted to do some very simple experiments that featured several variables that couldn’t be measured. After the groups and I went back-and-forth for a while with me primarily asking the question, “but, what are you going to be measuring”, they got the gist of it.
Some sample projects are listed below.
- Volume change in different brands of soap after being microwaved.
- Mass vs. Distance of a paper airplain
- Strength of finger nail polish vs. drying time.
- Height of geysers of various types of soda.
- Effect of salt on boiling point of water.
- Distance of a toy car vs. Number of Alka-Seltzer
- Number of Coffee Filters vs. Fall Time
- Height of Basketball Bounce vs. Inflation Pressure
- Temperature Difference vs. Color of Water in Microwave
- Circumference of a Balloon vs. Amount of Baking Soda
- Skin color vs. Brand of Bronzer
- Amount of sugar in different types of soda.
One thing I’d like to see next year is more students using video analysis and/or computer simulations. Only a couple of the above projects incorporated either of the elements into their analysis. On the other hand, one thing I was very pleased with was the large number of groups using linear regression and the other data analysis methods we discussed at the beginning of the year to create equations in order to make predictions.