Show and Tell Spring 2009

Here’s a short summary of presentations at the March 28th Spring 2009 meeting’s Show and Tell. Photos will be linked from here shortly.

  • Chuck Hunt, American River College
    • Intro to conservation laws demo. Five M&Ms in a small brown bag. How many times did the red one hit the green one? How many M&Ms are in the bag? Checked it by pulling them out. He pulls out six. How come? Shows the empty bag and places six in the bag. Shakes them up. Hides at the back of the room, then is seen chewing. How many in the bag? Counts out five. Where did the sixth go? “You ate it.” How do you know this? Not just that I was chewing, but that it was not in the bag. Conservation of M&Ms!
  • Claudia, Gunn High School, Palo Alto
    • Just a “tell.” Energy is on the forefront of public discussions, and physics sort of “owns” physics. But we’re not teaching about energy careers as requiring a physics background. This is our moment! The stimulus bill has created money available for energy topics. Claudia has made some initial contacts with professors at Stanford and with some energy companies, and they are quite excited about having high school teachers work on a venture to develop an “energy curriculum” for use in high schools. Energy Questionnaire NCNAAPT
  • Doug, West Valley College
    • Solar/Lunar Aerobics. Reaching and stretching to show the motion of sun and moon. Turning his body with one hand as the sun and the other as the moon, holding the angle between the two consistent. Usually have everyone stand up.
  • Bree Dreyfuss, Amador Valley HS
    • Doesn’t have an easily accessible elevator, so has a hanging wood frame to represent an elevator. Puts a Tigger (stuffed animal) in the pan of a small food elevator. Pulls the elevator up and down and students can see the food scale change depending on the acceleration of the “elevator.” Uses the “Travel food scale” from Bed Bath and Beyond $5.
  • Don Rathjen, Exploratorium
    • Spring toy that can pop up after the suction cup releases. Has a hand out that describes forces, work, and energy involved. (25 cents a piece from Oriental Trading Company, cheap enough that the kids can take them home. High failure rate, however, so be ready to apply some petroleum jelly to the suction cup.)
  • Ann Hanks, PASCO
    • Electrostatics toy. Very light item from
    • Clear acrylic tube with a laser shined into it shows internal reflection.
    • Huge (~2m diameter) white balloon. Lots of inertia. Bernouli effect can be demonstrated as dragging the balloon along. Edmunds Scientific.
  • Chris
    • Speaker building project, Exploratorium has the design. Tall box that allows students to experience resonance frequencies in the box. Pull the speaker out and you don’t get much bass, but putting it in the box you suddenly hear the bass much louder. Can be used by students for iPod speakers, some students have come back from college and asked for the plans because “everyone in the dorm wants one.”
  • Carl R, TOPS
    • Works with an elementary school to help the teachers there. Electrostatics is in the 4th grade California curriculum. Convex mirror makes a nice bearing, placing concave side up, then balance a long rods on the mirror/watch glass. Charge up an object and hold it next to the long rod and it will rotate towards it. A PVC pipe balance will then allow you to charge up the pipe and create attraction or repulsion depending on the charge of the object you place next to it.
  • Dean Baird
    • Skinny fish tank with a white background (from Arbor Scientific). Don’t see the laser beam in the water. Mop and Glow is a good scattering agent (Pine Sol also works, pick your favorite). The water is still fairly clear, but then the laser is quite visible in the tank. Arbor’s model includes a clear rod that will allow you to shine the laser through the wand (horizontally, not lengthwise) which creates a spreading light pattern which will allow you to show reflection and refraction inside the water as it spreads out onto the white background. You can also hold a diffraction grating against the end and see the patterns in the water. If you add lots of Mop and Glow, you can show scattering of light from a regular flashlight.
  • Bill Papke, retired
    • GPF: gallons per flush on toilets and urinals. Also LPF.
    • Stop by the Frys in Roseville, it’s the best decorated Frys with all sorts of train design integrated into it.
  • Bernard Cleyet, retired
    • Glass coffee table is now his lab bench at home.
    • Carl provided a handout for Pablo’s projectile motion demonstration at the last meeting (horizontally moving marker sliding off a table, and the rotation of the marker as it moves through it’s parabolic path).
  • David Kagan, CSU Chico
    • CD. Color transparencies with waves on them. Pinned down at the top. The Physics Teacher has a template for it this month.
  • Eric Ayars, CSU Chico
    • Bad pun: Pear cut in two, with equal and opposite. The solid one he found had a solid metal chunk in the middle, so be careful when you saw.
  • Tom Woodsnam
    • (sorry, I missed what his
    • Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air. A great book to read.
  • Lee Trampleasure, NCNAAPT web site
    • If you’re here, you see what Lee presented!
  • Clarence Barken
    • Physics Day. Cedar Fair bought Great America. Their new policy is that you can’t use electronic data collection equipment at parks. But we have an exception for Physics Day at Great America in Sunnyvale. However, the vests that hold the gear can no longer be used. Fanny packs, etc. can be used, as long as you comply with their other regulations. Clarence recommends tethers and fanny packs. Some parents have been told otherwise.
  • Extras from others: A one newton foam apple, available from Scientific Innovations. The Quarter Pounder at McDonalds is actually a Newton Burger if you weigh it. Also, there is a cereal in England called Vector, which has “directions” on the side and comes in different “magnitudes.”
  • Pablo
    • Pablo’s web site has lots of new videos posted ( Check them out. He also recommends the DVD Understanding Car Crashes, It’s Basic Physics. They have a sequel: When Physics Meets Biology. Exploratorium sells them.

“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).

Modeling Physics workshops, Summer 2009

Modeling Workshops in high school physics, chemistry, and/or physical science will be held in summer 2009 in Arizona, California, Miami FL, Kansas, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Philadelphia PA, Pittsburgh PA, Tennessee, Dallas TX, and Wisconsin. Pending funding, also in Columbus
GA, Chicago, New Orleans, and Kansas City MO.

Visit for details.

Modeling Workshops are peer-led. Modeling Instruction is the only high
school science program recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education as EXEMPLARY. Stipends and/or free tuition are available for in-state teachers at most sites.

Teachers greatly value Modeling Instruction. Modelers from all over the nation wrote:

  • In the one year that I have been modeling, I have seen wonderful results.
  • I love the modeling physics program and want to cheer for the difference I saw in the understanding of my students when I implemented the Mechanics materials for the first time last year!
  • Modeling has changed the fundamental way I teach. I believe eventually, maybe even in our lifetimes, all science will be taught this way.
  • We have had 3 physics teachers and 5 chemistry teachers enhance their professional development at your ASU modeling workshops. Modeling has made a world of difference in our science courses.

Jane Jackson, Co-Director, Modeling Instruction Program
Box 871504, Dept. of Physics, ASU, Tempe, AZ 85287
For 17 years, the Modeling Instruction Program has been helping teachers attain knowledge and skills needed to benefit their students. Modeling Instruction is designated as an Exemplary K-12 science program by the U.S. Department of Education.

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

Paid internships for teachers at Lawrence Livermore National Lab

You are invited to attend Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Teacher Research Academy (TRA).  TRA offers middle- and high-school science teachers unique professional development experiences. TRA provides teachers a continuum of standards-based instruction divided into four separate workshops, or Levels.  Teachers taking the four Levels can progress from novice to mastery in three exciting scientific disciplines:

  • Energy Technologies and the Environment
  • Fusion and Astrophysics
  • Biotechnology

Details about the programs are available on our web site:

Earn a Master of Science Degree:

Participation in the TRA program can lead to a Master of Science in Education degree from California State University East Bay, or extension


June 22 – Level – 1 – Three days of instruction.  The skills and knowledge consistent with the requirements to teach advanced middle and high school science

July 6  – Level – 2 – Five days of instruction.  The skills and knowledge taught are consistent with the requirements to teach advanced placement and college preparatory courses.

July 13 – Level – 3 – Five days of instruction preparing teachers to work in a mentored research experience.

June 15 – Level 4 – Six-week mentored research experience.  Teachers receive $4,000 when they complete the internship. Prerequisite for an internship is completion of Levels 1, 2 and 3.


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA.


Register on-line at


$15.00 for each program.


  • Increased understanding of science and technology.
  • Experience using scientific equipment to perform standards aligned experiments.
  • Preparation to guide student research projects.
  • Instruction binder with classroom activities.


Participants in the Teacher Research Academy can earn graduate course credit through the California State University (CSU) East Bay toward a Master of Science in Education degree, Curriculum Option, or extension credit.


Richard Farnsworth
Manager, Science Education Program
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
P.O. Box 808, L-797
Livermore, CA  94551
Phone 925-422-5059
Fax 925-423-2943

Summer opportunities: California State Summer School For Mathematics & Science (COSMOS)

Student COSMOS summer program

It’s time for talented teens to apply for COSMOS, a math and science summer program.

Students that love math and science and do well in them have a chance to spend four weeks at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz, or UC San Diego this summer learning about astronomy, biomedical sciences, engineering, computer game design, robotics and more.

The California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science (COSMOS) is a four-week residential program for talented and motivated students who are completing grades 8-12. Students work side-by-side with outstanding university researchers and faculty exploring advanced topics that extend beyond the typical high school curriculum.  COSMOS courses are hands-on and lab intensive emphasizing current research underway at the Universities of California.

Students are invited to apply to one of the four campus programs. The application must be completed online at by March 15.

Our flyer can be downloaded at:

Teacher Fellow Opportunity:

In addition to the student applications, some of the campuses are now in the process of identifying teachers to participate as a COSMOS Teacher Fellow. Each Fellow works with a team of university faculty to implement the academic portion of COSMOS. The commitment would be to participate in all classroom and laboratory work as well as field trips, typically a Monday ­ Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. It is a paid position, but housing is not provided. As an added bonus, we have graciously been giving funds to provide our Teacher Fellows with grants to purchase materials and equipment to help enhance teaching in their own personal classrooms. Deadlines are rapidly approaching. Please visit our website for more information.

The California State Summer School For Mathematics & Science (COSMOS)


Melina Duarte

University of California

Office of the President

p. 510.987.9711

New YouTube NCNAAPT channel

CJ Chretien has started a channel on YouTube for NCNAAPT members to share their favorite videos. Please visit to see videos and add your favorites.

From CJ:

Call for Videos

I am in the process of getting a YouTube channel going to promote NCNAAPT. Since there has been a few messages going around about video I thought I would put this out.

If you have any videos of demos that you have done and you want to have them put on the NCNAAPT YouTube channel send them my way. These do not have to be videos of anything out of this world; although those are great too. The idea is to create a resource for teachers to find demos that they can easily incorporate into their curriculum.

If you have a video that you want to share you can send me a link to the WWW or you can e-mail me a file. If you have a large file you might want to use or equivalent, which makes sending large files really easy and is free.

When I get the video I will put the NCNAAPT name and web address on the beginning and end and get it up on our channel.

If you want to keep up with the channel the link is, although there is nothing there as of now. Act fast and you could be the first video up there.

Email CJ at: groovitude AT gmail DOT com

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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Modeling Instruction and Workshops

Over the years, the Modeling Instruction program at Arizona State has created materials and a pedagogical approach that focuses on (and seems to get) deep student understanding of basic physics concepts. And they’re branching out into other disciplines.

It takes a commitment of time, energy, and possibly a willingness to be in Phoenix for a few weeks in the summer, but it’s worth learning more. Visit for more background.

Their national workshop list is at