Would you like to receive a post card from the South Pole?

Kate Miller, a W & L physics teacher, is going to the South Pole one week from today and would love to send you a post card!

From Kate:

With only a few more days ‘til break, we’re all feeling the “final push.” Over here, I’m organizing, packing, and taking several trips to REI to prepare for my expedition to Antarctica. I leave for New Zealand in ONE WEEK and my South Pole expedition follows in early January.

I’m emailing you about a unique opportunity for you, your students, your family and friends. The South Pole Station has its very own post office (who knew?) with its very own, authentic South Pole stamp. In an effort to increase engagement, I’ll be sending postcards to anyone (seriously anyone – not just students) who is interested! I’d appreciate it if you could help me spread the word in these final days before break. Instructions for signing up for a postcards are at this link: bit.ly/SouthPolePostcards


I hope you and your students will follow along with my expedition while I’m gone.

  • Follow my blog at bit.ly/MillerSouthPole – scroll down and “Subscribe” to receive email updates every time a new journal is posted
  • Follow on facebook by ‘liking’ my teacher page facebook.com/MillerSouthPole – journal updates will also be posted  here as well as pictures and videos
  • Attend a “PolarCONNECT” event on January 19 (around 9:00am, exact time TBD) where I’ll give a presentation live from the South Pole (details will be posted in a journal once I know them!)

 Thank you for your ongoing support as I embark on this super cold journey!

Kate Miller

Physics Teacher

Washington-Lee High School

Week of 12/19


Today we reviewed some equilibrium concepts from last Thursday including dynamic equilibrium, writing equilibrium constants,  and solving ICE tables. We mainly did problems from the worksheet on page 17 in the packet.  The 2nd half I introduced the concept of the reaction quotient and LeChatlier’s principle. We ended with LeChatelier’s ship.


Today we did the Le Chatelier Exploration lab on page 31 in the packet.

HW: answer lab questions


Volleyball tournament! No class the rest of the week! Winter break starts!

Week of Dec 12


Today we started with review questions on graphs and half lives.  Here’s the link to the smart notes.  I realized that I should have asked a different question – instead of a graph of concentration vs time, needed to describe how a graph of moles or mass vs time would change. Here’s the notes from class.

The second half of class we went over the Arrhenius rate constant equation and the various forms of it.  Got stuck on the graphing problem b/c I didn’t notice that you had your axes mixed up!! Bah.

HW: practice problems/ readings/ etc.


Today we reviewed mechanisms….how to get rate law from the mechanism. Ended up doing some rather challenging problems with 1/2 powers! Fun!


Today we reviewed for the test by working on packet problems (multiple choice, textbook, other random questions in the packet that you didn’t finish.  I also mentioned that the Dye Fading Lab had been graded and you should check the feedback I gave.




Kinetics Test

Week of Dec 5


Today we started with reading reaction rate graphs so you can understand how to get rates from a graph and so that you will understand how we get the data we used later to determine rate laws.  I had you guys work on CA 57 and for the first block.  At the beginning of the 2nd block I went over it with the power point notes and showed how to get the units for the rate constant..  The rest of the block you worked on the problems on CA 57.

HW: finish CA 57 problems (answers – will need to scroll down to find them) and read catalytic convertor and effusion/diffusion article if you haven’t done so yet.



Today we did the Dye fading lab.  We did NaOH and phenolpthalein this year.  Need to make it 1 M NaOH to make it work.


Time to work on lab / work problems in textbook.

HW: Lab, readings, HW


First half we did some review questions (outline collision theory, why does T affect rxn rate, integrated rate law problems, method of initial rates problems).  2nd half I lectured on reaction mechanisms.  If you missed it or need a review. Check out these videos.

Reaction Mechanisms (mine)  (goals/notes you should take)

Reaction Mechanism for Fast equilibrium step before slow step (Paul Groves)

HW: Readings & Q’s (specifically about ozone this time), lab, textbook problems



Week of Nov 28


Spent first half of class reviewing gas laws and working on AP problems.  2nd half you worked on lab write-ups.


Because almost all groups had to work through some rather complicated calculations to detemine partial pressure, we spent all class doing the lab calculations.


Gases Test


Notes on Kinetics – collision theory, did Boltzmann Buck Rock Paper Scissors demo and did Boltzmann worksheet. Also went over potential energy diagrams, including activated complex.

HW: Effusion/Diffusion reading and questions + work on lab write-up


Today we reviewed collision theory and the Boltzmann Distribution.  I did some demos and went over the four factors that affect reaction rates and then you had some time to answer the following questions that were submitted for feedback:

  • Why does temperature affect reaction rate? Refer explicitly to collision theory and the Boltzmann distribution.
  • Why do catalysts affect reaction rate? Refer explicitly to collision theory and the Boltzmann distribution.

The second half of class we did ChemActivity 36 (in packet it comes after the effusion/diffusion assignment and after the catalyst article) that teaches you how to calculate reaction rate.   We skipped the activity on reaction rate graphs 17 but did do the Potential energy diagram worksheet.   The last 15 minutes of class I handed back your redox test and went over some of the commonly missed questions.

HW: finish lab write-up and catalytic convertor article and questions

Week of Nov 21


Most of you were out b/c of field trips, but some of the sophomore’s were here and worked on the lab.


Last day to collect data for lab

Rest of week: Thanksgiving!