Monday, August 25, 2008

Physics Time Again!

Classes begin today at IPFW. I'm taking a belated day off from the day job, getting a few things done at home (I was going to take Friday off for my birthday, but I had something time-specific to do, so today's it). More to the point, though, PHYS 218 gets underway this evening at 6 pm, and I'll once again have Enhanced Excuses™ for not posting to my poor, neglected blog. I can't say I enjoy grading exams, quizzes, or lab reports, but I do loves me some teaching physics. I have 56 customers lined up for tonight, and I hope each and every one will get a good value for his or her money. (Not all of them will, so my fallback hope is that, for those who don't, it won't be because of something I did, or failed to do.)

Last week I had email from a former student who is now a day-job co-worker. The humor she passed along was something I'd seen before, but I got a smile out of it all over again. I share with you here a couple of alleged test items:

This person actually was well on his way to a correct solution to the problem; he correctly calculated the gravitational potential energy of the object at its starting point (mgh), and its elastic potential energy at its stopping point (0.5 * k *x^2). He should simply have equated the two and solved for x. For some reason, he elected to bag the problem instead. I'd have given him a few points' worth of partial credit; he really had most of the work done.

The next person: not so much.

Anyway, here's hoping for correct solutions from my students; and, failing that, I hope to see some funny ones.


Craig said...

56, that's kick ass

pardon my mouth

Thinking Mama said...

Oh my gosh, Jim! Happy Birthday to you! And by the way, not many rut dwellers that I know teach physics. And go to Canoga Park Bowl when they're in Los Angeles. Maybe you're not nearly as much of a rut dweller as you think. :)


Jim Wetzel said...

Craig: I used to have 60 in the fall semesters. Last year, though, someone decided that the lab can only accommodate 28 people at a time before fire codes are broken. Since I have two lab sections, that limits enrollment to 56. Of course, since I'm in the lab too, I guess it's still in violation, since I make 29. Hmmmmm.

Tricia: thank you for the birthday greeting! In terms of ruts, grading the 51st lab report of the weekend feels fairly rut-ish, but I suppose ruts are where you find them (as my old dad, a tool and die maker who despised routine, might have said). If I lived in Los Angeles, the CPB would be a part of my rut. Those of us with the "talent" for it can routine-ize pretty much anything, I'm thinking ...