Tappan Zee High School’s makerspace and wood shop have been buzzing with AP Physics 1 students, who are designing and building electrical instruments to learn about waves and electromagnetism. “Waves is a huge part of the AP exam now and they almost always ask about how it applies to instruments,” explains Physics Teacher Jim Keelty, who is partnering with TZHS Computer Science/Makerspace Teacher Karen Connell on fabrication and Instructional Math Coach (Gr. 7-12) Marisa Premus on developing class presentations to South Orangetown Middle School students.
“It’s so fun because besides the science you can be creative. I’m a more creative-oriented person and understand the physics conceptually, but sometimes have trouble with the math,” says Paris K., a junior. “Being able to get my hands on it and see how it works really helps me understand it better.”
While some group members are in the wood shop, others work with Ms. Premus to draft and practice interactive lesson plans to teach basic physics concepts to SOMS students–and translate high school junior-level math for a middle school audience. “They’re thinking up here intellectually and developmentally,” notes Ms. Premus, holding her hand above her head. “We’re working on peeling away to get their lessons so that they’re accessible and engaging for younger students. We’ve been talking about using probing questions, like ‘What would happen if I…,’ so that middle schoolers can understand the connections between sound waves and electromagnetism and instrument string thickness, sounds and fret positioning.”