All posts by bbarnettdreyfuss

Keynote Speaker: Douglas Stone

Einstein’s scientific image was systematically distorted for historical reasons (not discussed here) however Einstein spent much more time on quantum theory than anything else (including relativity). Stone discovered and wrote an article on some of Einstein’s early and extremely lucid explanations of the problem with quantizing chaos. The article appeared in 2005 during the World Year of Physics and resulted in many speaking engagements which sparked Stone’s intensive research into Einstein’s life and works. Most of the available literature on Einstein’s research was too technical for the general public so Stone wrote his own. Continue reading Keynote Speaker: Douglas Stone

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Pascal Lee

Dr. Lee gave us information about the plans for the first human mission to Mars. He gave a background of the surface temperatures, pressures and topography all of which present unique difficulties to a human mission. Lee shared the mission goals and results from each of the successful rover missions. He was able to share several images from the Mars missions to discuss the difference in terrain, air quality and the sky. The sky on Mars is only blue at sunrise and sunset as the sky clears of dust. Conjuction vs Opposition timing plans each have their benefits and drawbacks to the amount of time in space and the amount of time spent on the surface of Mars. There are private endeavors including the Inspiration Mars program. Lee is more interested in whether or not Mars has alien life, as in different from our own, more than if there is life on Mars. He advocates the continued exploration and study of Mars and hopefully an eventual human mission to Mars. Lee believes that NASA plans and achievements will help increase science education and the number of students that graduate with upper level degrees in Science. A similar trend was seen after the Apollo missions in the 1960’s. Continue reading Keynote Speaker: Dr. Pascal Lee

Key Note Speakers: Dave & Christine Vernier

Dave and Christine shared their roots in teaching and the inspiration for and gradual start of their company. The Verniers began writing software for Physics teachers years ago and eventually partnered with Pasco to write their software. Both companies grew and eventually Vernier began creating their own part kits. Vernier partnered with Texas Instruments to create software for their CBL calculator program and eventually created their own interfaces. The Verniers also shared stories and information about their company, employees and plans for growth. They also shared new sensors, program updates, etc. coming soon.

Dave is also experimenting with the Arduino systems. More information about their endeavors are here on their website. He demonstrated a program using a motion detector that allows a laser pointer to move based on the motion of a hand above the motion detector. The program should be available on their website.

Spring 2013 Morning Invited Talks

Invited Talk: “Changes in the Teaching of Introductory Physics at Stanford” Chaya Nanavati or Stanford University

Chaya diChayascussed the existing structure that has an instructor that leads lectures and has Head TAs, Discussion TAs and Lab TAs that assist the smaller groups.  Often we encounter several barriers to change: Administration or Colleagues are often resistant to change and need convincing, materials and time are necessary for change. She suggests using the already developed resources from Maryland University, Harvard, CU Boulder, etc. on group work and student-centered learning. Eric Mazur has lots of resources and evidence that interactive engagement increases the post-test gain on the Force Concept Inventory test. Continue reading Spring 2013 Morning Invited Talks

Spring 2013 Share n’ Tell

Further updates and links to come… If you have any corrections please let the secretary know.

Tom Woosnam , Crystal Springs Uplands School

Tom discussed the Perimeter Institute; more information is available here: Perimeter Institute Catalogue (1)

Don Rathjen, Exploratorium Continue reading Spring 2013 Share n’ Tell

Physics of Baseball

David KaganDavid Kagan, CSU Chico

All of David’s material related to the Physics of Baseball are available on his website:

David demonstrated the Physics of the Baseball bat including the progression of the baseball bat. He explained how to find the center of percussion of the baseball bat as well as the center of vibration.  The “sweet spot” of a bat is where the center of percussion and the center of vibration meet which means that the player will minimize the jarring force of the bat. David showed us many high speed videos from the playoffs that show the compression of a baseball bat being hit and the reaction of the bat after the impact. David demonstrated his rubber bat that has no internal support so that it can create a standing wave. By putting together that information, your students can choose the correction direction that the bat will swing and even guess where the baseball will break if it is outside or inside of the sweet spot.

Pablo showing off his collector baseballsPaul (Pablo) Robinson, San Mateo High School, retired

Pablo shared the physics of the splash hits in the San Francisco Giants Stadium. The ballpark has been designed for maximum home runs and the majority are hit to right field, where the ballpark meets the bay. He discussed the geometry of the park and where a home run is most likely hit.

He has more materials on the change in velocity of a ball hit on different planets, the Physics of a home run, etc. Visit his website for additional materials and videos.

Story Telling in Physics

Bree Barnett Dreyfuss, Amador Valley High School

Bree shared examples of story telling in her class room including:

  • Using comics & pictures
  • Using video clips
  • Interpreting graphs & drawings
  • Anecdotes and stories of scientists and discoveries

Bree worked with a colleague to develop curriculum surrounding the book The Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson. She shared curriculum materials from her unit that are available on her website here.

Fall 2012 Conference Share ‘n Tell

Tom at Share n TellTom Woosnam, Crystal Springs

Tom showed us a conducting experiment (picture to come) with two cans and a two copper wires that do not touch and attach to a coup of water. After the cup of water is filled a small neon bulb that that is connected to one of the two copper wires can discharge repeatedly. Tom’s best guess as to why it flashes is that one of the metal cans becomes randomly charged, say negatively, and that negative charge travels up the conducting materials to the water and repels electrons through the other wire to the other side that builds up potential.


Dan Burns, Los Gatos High School

Continue reading Fall 2012 Conference Share ‘n Tell