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.

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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More Great Summer Programs for Teachers

You can learn cool summer stuff and earn money while you’re doing it.

  • In the IISME (Industry Initiatives for Science and Mathematics Education) Summer Fellowship Program, you work in a technically-oriented workplace or research lab, contribute to what goes on there, and translate your experience into improved instruction. Summer 2007, you could earn up to $8200!
    Check out
    You can read sample postings from previous summers at
    Applicants must currently teach K–16 in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara or Santa Cruz County.
  • The Edward Teller Education Center (ETEC) of the UC Davis School of Education in collaboration with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), is offering two new programs this summer for the Teacher Research Academy and an option for an advanced degree. You can learn more at These may be related to other LLNL offerings, below.
  • Once again, Lawrence Livermore is hosting a series of summer opportunities for teachers. You can work in biotechnology, fusion/astrophysics, or energy technologies and environment. Summer programs starting in 2007 can lead to internships as part of a research team. The idea is that your new knowledge and skills will enhance your instruction. There is money for stipends, lodging, and travel.
    Check it out at