This is my second year as a teaching assistant for the Physics class here at Vampy. I had somewhat of an idea what to expect when the kids started coming in on Monday morning. We immediately hit the ground running with content. The plan was to cover nearly an entire year of high school physics content in 3 weeks. By the end of the first two days, we had covered: scalars, vectors, and most of the kinematic equations. In the second week, we kept going with the mechanics portion of the class. The kids learned about Newton’s Laws, projectiles, basic forces, free body diagrams, Work, and Power. We have also done several experiments to show these concepts in action. This includes finding the speed of a bubble, calculating a student’s reaction time, finding the velocity of a bullet shot out of a Nerf gun, using trigonometry to navigate a park, and observing the conservation of energy by launching a ball bearing from a coat hanger cannon.
We do not plan to slow down for the final week. The students will continue to learn about the basics of electricity and magnetism, optics, and waves. At the end of this class, the students will have used more than 25 different equations. They will also understand that physicists are problem-solvers, and these equations are simply tools in their toolbox. They will also be able to use these equations to assist them in solving AP Physics I problems.
We plan to continue letting the students experience physics principles and laws and will design experiments to not only prepare them for future physics courses but also to allow them to really gain a better understanding of the world. Part of my job as a teaching assistant is to show these 13 students that physics really is something that is happening all around them. Part of my job is also to ensure that they respond to the word “physics” with something other than the disgust that so many students have. My goal is that they understand that physics is not something to have nightmares about. It is a fascinating subject that can include a variety of fun. I believe this group of students has really taken that lesson to heart.
— Chloe Jones, teaching assistant