Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"During this session we continued our review of the Inner and Outer planets. The student did not receive science homework so we began by talking through flash cards I had brought to the session. I prepared cards for each planet plus a card for the Inner and Outer planets' general characteristics. We went through each one, talked through questions she had and filled in gaps. We spent some time in discussion about the general characteristics of the Inner and Outer planets, how they're the similar and dissimilar, and how they relate to each other within the Solar System. This organization of facts into buckets will help her to gain mastery over this topic but will also help her in future lessons by breaking down complex and large sets of information into smaller bits that are easier (and more fun) to remember. I also brought along some to-scale diagrams of the planets in relation to their group (Inner and Outer), the Sun, and other stars. This helped accomplish two things: a major characteristic of the planets is their size and a to-scale diagram was not presented in her textbook. Also, a sense of the enormity of the solar system (and the galaxy) will help to encourage and deepen her excitement for the subject. We ended with her taking the practice test I made. The test included four sections: open ended written, matching, multiple choice, and true/false. Questions ranged in difficulty and some questions went a little beyond what we had explicitly covered. When she was done we reviewed and on the more difficult questions I asked her how she got to her answer. On the topics we directly covered, she scored perfectly. She did not fare as well on the questions that were more of a curveball. However, in discussion her reasoning was sound and she had clearly thought through each question. This shows me that she's starting to organize her thoughts and that she shows little to no apprehension for test taking. These are both great signs. I gave her the flash cards, diagrams, and completed test as study guides for more review before her test Friday."
"We worked on the broader area of the Law of energy conservation (closed systems), energy-work relationship (open systems) and the representation of energy as a bar graph ("energy bar"). We discussed kinetic and potential (gravitational) energy of objects, the sum of the objects' energy, taking snapshots of the movements of an object and determining its energy at the moment, and formulas to calculate and summarize energy. We worked on multiple word problems that were assigned as homework. The student was very engaging, asking great questions and participating. He is very smart and has a strong algebraic foundation that will greatly help with his physics studies. He is used to solving problems by simply recalling the formula in his head and entering the values directly into the calculator. This works for simpler problems, but the downside is that it is very hard to pinpoint and catch any mistakes made and it's impossible to recall the steps of the solution at a later time. He is crossing the line with his physics studies where problems are getting more and more complex, and working out solutions in his head will be less and less feasible. I suggested that he start writing down the formulas and step-by-step solutions for the homework problems in order to minimize the chance for mistakes and to be able to refer to the solutions at a later time when preparing for tests, finals etc. Ideally a separate notebook would be great to keep the solutions of these problems documented."
"The student was reviewing uniform circular motion and gravitation, with an emphasis on being able to identify centripetal forces and use the equations for gravitation and centripetal force. The student has a good handle on identifying centripetal forces and solving equations once they are set up. We will continue working on proceeding step-by-step through problems and connecting one step to the next."