Teaching Two Dimensional Motion Using TED-ED in an AP Physics C classroom for 12th Grade Students

The Context for My Lesson

This lesson will be delivered to an AP Physics C class at Oak Ridge Military Academy (ORMA), where I currently teach. According to the College Board, students should have taken or be concurrently taking calculus before beginning AP Physics C. (College Board, 2014) Unfortunately, due to a small and diverse student population at the Academy, many Cadets will only have an Algebra II level of mathematics upon entering my class. Last school year, my Physics class had 8 students. Next year, I already have 10 enrolled. There is an average of 7 students per classroom at ORMA, and a student to teacher ratio of 6.8:1. The largest class last year in our school was 9th grade Earth / Environmental Science with 14 students. The smallest class in our school was Art History with two students. These small class sizes are extremely beneficial to both the teacher and the students. ORMA serves 96 boarding students in the 7th through 12th grade from a diverse background of origin. They range from all across the United States, China, Russia, Latin America, The Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East.

Previous knowledge before this lesson should include kinematics in one direction, vectors and coordinate systems. In kinematics in one direction, students should be able to graph the kinematic quantities as a function of time, use the kinematic equations to solve unknown variables, and use differential equations to solve motion in one direction (Knight, Chapter Two: Kinematics in One Direction, 2016). In vectors and coordinate systems, students should be able to find the x and y component of a given vector, solve the net displacement when given a series of displacement vectors for an object, as well as solve the net velocity when given a series of velocity vectors for an object (Knight, Chapter 3: Vectors and the Coordinate System, 2016).

An example lab that I would do before this lesson using one dimension kinematics would be my Water Rocket lab:

This lesson would be used as an introduction to two dimensional kinematics. In two dimensional kinematics, students will be able to solve for the components, magnitude, and direction of an object’s acceleration and velocity, as well as find the motion of a projectile (Knight, Chapter Four: Kinematics in Two Dimensions, 2016). An example lab that I would do after this lesson would be my Punkin Chunkin lab:

This lesson will be about how vertical velocity and horizontal velocity are independent of each other. This lesson is directed for my Oak Ridge Military Academy AP Physics C class.  The media that will be added to this lesson will be the TED-ED lesson, along with my Power Point on the subject. The rationale for adding the TED-ED video into the lesson is to provide a visual understanding of how vertical and horizontal velocity are independent of each other by watching a vertically dropped ball and horizontally launched ball hit the ground at the same time – a concept that many students have a hard time grasping.


The Standard(s) this Lesson Meets

The NCSCOS Essential Standard that this lesson meets is Phy. 1.1 “Analyzing the Motion of Objects”. The clarifying objective that this lesson meets is Phy. 1.1.3 “Analyze motion in two dimensions using angle of trajectory, time, distance, displacement, velocity, and acceleration”. (Public Schools of North Carolina, 2016) Along with the Standard Course of Study, this lesson meets many of the 21st Century Skills, including but not limited to, the use of technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information, as well as the use of digital technologies, communication/networking tools and social networks appropriately to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information to successfully function in a knowledge economy (P21, 2016).


The Media I am Integrating


TED-ED is an online media builder, allowing both teachers and students to create an interactive lesson. Through TED-ED, students and teachers can use YouTube videos or TED videos to build a media outlet to allow students to work independently on an objective through a possibly international online community, depending how the TED-ED content is shared. The TED-ED platform allows for discussion boards as well as quiz-like questions. (Frequenty Asked Questions, 2016)


The Rationale for Integrating the Media into this Lesson

While the use of media can be misused in the classroom as a reward, classroom management tool, or a break for a weary teacher (Hobbs, 2006), media can also be a useful learning tool. While research in the past on the effectiveness of technology based education has been filled with isolated bits of research, a better question to ask rather than “Does technology help students learn?” is “How can I use technology to help teach my class?” (March, 2000) By creating media that interests the students, making it relevant to them, and giving them the satisfaction of accomplishment, we can motivate them to want to learn. (Keller, 1983)

The TED-ED format fits perfectly into my style of teaching. Not only does it give the students a visual representation of a concept that I have had trouble presenting to the students in the past, the open-ended questions section allows me as a teacher to create “puzzlement”-creating inquiries that may challenge their current understanding of the world, such as the dropping and firing of a bullet. (Brooks, 1999) This technology allows me to bring about activities that require problem solving and critical thinking, rather then just gathering information and using previous gained knowledge, which is a higher form of learning. (Bransford, 1985)


The Integration of the Media or Technology Into the Lesson

After finishing our unit on one dimensional kinematics, I will present the idea that speed, velocity, and acceleration can happen in two dimensions as well as one. I will then take a ball and throw it across the classroom. I will explain that the acceleration and deceleration from my throw is acting as a horizontal force on the ball. At the same time, the force of gravity is acting as a vertical force on the ball. I will then ask the class which ball would hit the ground first- a ball dropped or a ball thrown horizontally. I will open the class up for a  discussion. After that, I will invite my students to my computer lab to try out the TED-ED format. After they have completed the assignment, I will invite the students back to their seats for a follow-up discussion on what they have learned. At this point, a quiz may be administered to students as a type of summative assessment to assess their learning of the target objectives. The next day, we will begin projectile velocity.


My Evaluation of the Media Integration

I believe the method in which I integrated the TED-ED content into my lesson will be extremely beneficial to my students. Two dimensional kinematics is a difficult subject for most students to grasp, and by giving a video representation of the concept, rather then me trying to drop and throw a ball at the same time, the students will visually comprehend how vertical and horizontal velocity are independent of each other. It will help my students with the content objective Psy. 1.1.3 by slowing down the moment of impact so that students can see that both balls hit the ground at the same time. Also, since AP Physics C is a difficult course, even for high school seniors, I think by differentiating the lesson from an aural style to a kinesthetic style will help appeal to more learning styles and attain a higher success rate of student understanding.

The only way that I can foresee that implementing this media will not work is based on the lack of consistency of both the ORMA internet infrastructure as well as YouTube videos. Oak Ridge Military Academy, for its 15 classrooms and 100 Cadets, currently runs on a residential router and a server from the late 90s. Wi-Fi is often down, and even when it is working, it is dreadfully slow. I often incorporate videos into my PowerPoint for my classes. Sometimes, a video will be taken down that I used the year before because of either copyright infringement or the user decision. If the video I selected is removed from YouTube, then the lesson will not work.

Overall, I am extremely excited to implement the TED-ED content into my classroom to create better and more engaging lessons. I believe using these as WebQuests may also be a good use of technology, and help to keep track of what my students understand when they go home.



Bransford, J. (1985). Schema activation and schema acquisition. In H. Singer, & R. B. Ruddell, Theoretical models and processes of reading (pp. pp. 385–397). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Brooks, J. G. (1999). In search of understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

College Board. (2014). AP® PHYSICS C: MECHANICS. Retrieved from College Board: http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/ap/ap-course-overviews/ap-physics-c-mechanics-course-overview.pdf

Frequenty Asked Questions. (2016). Retrieved from TED Ed: http://support.ed.ted.com/customer/en/portal/articles/963941-what-is-ted-ed-

Hobbs, R. (2006). Non-optimal uses of video in the Classroom. Learning, Media and Technology, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 35–50.

Keller, J. M. (1983). Motivational design of instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth, Instructional design theories and models. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Knight, R. (2016). Chapter 3: Vectors and the Coordinate System. In R. Knight, Physics for Scientists and Engineers (pp. 65-77). Boston: Pearson.

Knight, R. (2016). Chapter Four: Kinematics in Two Dimensions. In R. Knight, Physics for Scientists and Engineers (pp. 80-104). Boston: Pearson.

Knight, R. (2016). Chapter Two: Kinematics in One Direction. In R. Knight, Physics For Scientists and Engineers (pp. 32-58). Boston: Pearson Education.

March, T. (2000, May/June). Are We There Yet? A Parable on the Educational Effectiveness of Technology. Retrieved from Working the Web for Education: http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools/may00/march.htm

P21. (2016). P21: Partnership for 21st Century Learning. Retrieved from Framwork for 21st Century Learning: http://www.p21.org/our-work/p21-framework

Public Schools of North Carolina. (2016). North Carolina Essential Standards: Physics. Retrieved from NC Standard Course of Study: http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/docs/curriculum/science/scos/support-tools/new-standards/science/physics.pdf

Image: Hagen, D. (2016)



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