Category Archives: Events and speakers

Teaching Physics with Multi-Station Activities, by Charles Hunt, American River College

Charles presented several stations for Newton’s Laws of Motion. His goal is to have his students spend more time with their hands on activities, and less time listening to lectures. He generally introduces the activities of the day with a mini lecture, then students have time to work the activities.

He does some preparation/manipulation of the apparatus to ensure students get the desired results.

Some of his activities/demos include:

  • A great demo he uses is a “fake rock” made of foam and painted black that he can throw to students and be surprised by how light it is.
  • Nice heavy chain that students try to pull horizontal in a tug of war.
  • Doppler effect with the flexible tube twirled overhead.

Hand outs were provided, and everyone had time to get their “hands on” the activities.

Charles always leaves a 5-10 minutes at the end to review what students were expected to see at each station. Tape down the station numbers or they will migrate!

“Seeing Radiation: Nuclear Science Experiments” A Teacher Workshop for high school science educators

Friday, April 3, 2009

8:00 am to 5:00 pm

University of California, Berkeley

This workshop will focus on using cloud chambers and Geiger counters to help teach the principles of radioactivity and radiation. Participants will receive a wealth of materials – a cloud chamber kit and
Geiger counter, workbooks, and classroom activities. This workshop will include a tour to the Advanced Light Source and lectures by leading scientists. The educational material is targeted for
high school science teachers, grades 9-12.

A review of the workshop is available online:

Preliminary Topics

  • What is radiation?
  • How is it measured?
  • Where does it come from?
  • What experiments can you do in your school?

Sponsors: The American Nuclear Society (ANS) and the Northern California Chapter of the Health Physics Society are proud to sponsor this workshop. Scientists and engineers from the Northern California Section of both professional societies (ANS-NCS and NCCHPS) are presenting the material. The UC Berkeley, Nuclear Engineering Department, is generously providing facilities for the event.

Funding for the workshop is provided in part by the Northern California Section of the American Nuclear Society, in part by the Northern California Chapter of the Health Physics Society, and through individual and organizational contributions to the American Nuclear Society (ANS).

Participate in a global light pollution campaign & make a world of difference!

Once again, the GLOBE community is invited to participate in the annual global sky observation known as GLOBE at Night. GLOBE at Night brings people outside to observe the constellation Orion from 16-28 March 2009. Participants simply choose a clear night on which stars are visible, take measurements of stars in this portion of the sky using GLOBE’s Magnitude Charts, and enter observations into the GLOBE at Night Web site. Students — alongside teachers, parents and community members– amass a data set from which they can begin to explore the concept of light pollution and to research the patterns of light pollution across the globe.

You can enter your observations on the GLOBE at Night Report web page from 16 March – 7 April.

Complete details at:

Speaker: Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the methods of science to teach science

Friday, March 20, 2009, 11:00 a.m.
Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman
Oak West, 2nd floor of Tresidder Union, Stanford University
Refreshments served at 10:45. Open to public.

The Physics department will host a special lecture on March 20, 2009 by Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, Director of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia.


Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the methods of science to teach science

Guided by experimental tests of theory and practice, science has advanced rapidly in the past 500 years. Guided primarily by tradition and dogma, science education meanwhile has remained largely medieval. Research on how people learn is now revealing how many teachers badly misinterpret what students are thinking and learning from traditional science classes and exams. However, research is also providing insights on how to do much better. The combination of this research with modern information technology is setting the stage for a new approach that can provide the relevant and effective science education for all students that is needed for the 21st century. I will discuss the failures of traditional educational practices, even as used by “very good” teachers, and the successes of some new practices and technology that characterize this more effective approach, and how these results are highly consistent with findings from cognitive science.

Speaker: Carl Wieman, U of British Columbia, U of Colorado,
Director of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at University of British Columbia (
Director of the Science Education Initiative at University of Colorado

Kaye Storm
Director, Office of Science Outreach
Stanford University

March 2009 PTSOS workshops

Physics Teacher SOS spring 2009 workshops:

Electricity, Magnetism, and Light: “Come See the Light”

March 7, 2009: Rio Americano High School (Sacramento area); Dean Baird & Steve Keith. Rio Americano HS Campus Map (PDF).

March 14, 2009: San Mateo High School (SF Peninsula); Paul Robinson & Dan Burns.

Complete workshops descriptions and registration information at

Spring meeting at PASCO in Roseville

We’re excited to announce that PASCO will host our spring 2009 meeting at their facilities in Roseville, CA. The date of the meeting is Saturday, March 28, 2009. Mark your calendars!

In addition to great presentations by PASCO (not strictly focused on their equipment), we’ll also offer our ever popular Show ‘n’ Tell–everyone is invited to bring a five minute presentation of your favorite lab, handout, website, or other teaching resource.

More details will be posted here shortly.

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