Sunday, September 10, 2023

Physics Crossword Puzzles

Once I gained access to crossword puzzle creation software, I plied computer power to generate physics-themed puzzles. The trouble with most academic crosswords is that they consist one or two dozen words, not that many crosses, and a whole lot of empty "zen space". 

I was determined to fill the gaps on my physics crosswords with other terms, preferably science terms. When you get deep into gap-filling, you appreciate the value of short words, acronyms, and initialisms. Later I got the idea using words from online lists of "words all high school students should know". I knew that would bring some joy to the hearts of my ELA colleagues.

The puzzle-creation software package I initially used did not survive the 2000s. The most recent program I used still operates in the current version of the macOS operating system. So now I'm preparing crosswords for posting at TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers).

Puzzle Maker by Hokua Software LLC allows the creation of printable crosswords. It also allows for the creation of HTML puzzles that can be uploaded to one's server space and solved online. It also lets you drop in an image for the grid's backdrop rather than just using black, white, or gray. 

And for the printable PDF versions, I've prepared one with an empty grid, another with 10% of the letters prefilled, and another with 20% of the letters prefilled. Users can determine which level of difficulty is best for their students. I include a separate Word List for instructors to deploy at their own discretion. Words like "rarefaction" and "specular" are likely to show up where appropriate, as will high school vocab words like "impetuous" and "evanescent," so hints can prove useful.

I've discovered that there is much more craft involved in the creation of a robust, "busy" crossword puzzle, even with computer power. This is why so many subject-matter crosswords are so sparse.

Here's a link to the online version. These online puzzles are intended for laptop or tablet use. They don't work so well on mobile.

Here's the online version of the energy crossword. Each crossword I posted at TPT comes with printable PDFs and a folder of HTML files that can be uploaded to your own web space.

UPDATE: I'm adding a second set of crossword puzzles for use with AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 students. To see all the Lessons of Phyz crossword puzzles, click here.

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