International Summer School for Young Physicists

Dear Educator,

Thank you to those of you who have already shared the news about our free summer physics camps for students and teachers at Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Application deadlines are fast approaching:

  • For your students – the deadline to apply for the International Summer School for Young Physicists is Thursday, March 19, 2009. Program Dates: August 8 to August 22 -online applications available at
  • For your teachers – the deadline to apply for the Einstein Plus Teachers Workshop is Tuesday, March 31, 2009. Program Dates: August 2 to August 8 – online applications available at

If you have not already done so, we hope you will share this information with other  students and teachers by:

  1. Forwarding this email to interested students and groups;
  2. Printing and hanging the downloadable poster that is available  here;
  3. Adding the following short description to your blogs, websites or any newsletters  you may be involved in:
    1. Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI), is now accepting applications for their free summer science camps for students and teachers with a keen interest in modern physics.  All expenses are paid within Canada. For detailed information regarding these camps please visit or

What teachers to 2008 Einstein Plus say about their experience at Perimeter:

  • Lots of sharing, new ideas, new strategies, stretching of the mind… I am very excited about this coming year in my classroom.
  • This has been an amazing, memorable, and motivating experience. I would highly recommend it. This has exceeded my expectations.
  • Very intellectually stimulating program, good for both getting me informed and excited about modern physics, but also giving me ideas of how to bring this into the classroom.
  • A fantastic opportunity.

What past students to ISSYP say about their experience at Perimeter:

  • I attended ISSYP three years ago and now my summer job is cosmology research! I give credit to this program for giving me the self-confidence to believe I could become a physicist and putting me on the path I am on. It showed me that there is no reason not  to try.” – Tyler August, Canada, Laurentian University, 2005 ISSYP Participant
  • ISSYP was a great adventure for me. I met wonderful people in there; both students from around the world and researchers. It involved some heavily mind-stretching activities, but also gave a lot of valuable insight into actual working life of theoretical physicists. The experience of ISSYP gave me a lot of motivation, which still helps with studying and working for the University of Oxford.” – Krzysztof Ilowiecki, Poland,  University of Oxford, 2006 ISSYP Participant

Additional information is available online at

If you have any questions, please contact:
Julie Taylor (519) 569-7600 ext.  5080

We look forward to receiving applications from your school.

Best Regards,
Perimeter Institute Outreach Team

Contributed Papers, Spring 2009 Conference

The following papers were presented at the conference.

We hope to have links to author’s web resources soon.

What is an electron?

Richard Kidd, Diablo Valley College (retired), Pleasant Hill, CA
A student once asked me this question and appeared very dissatisfied when I replied that we have many precise
measurements of its properties but no knowledge as to the electron’s structure, leading it to be often considered to be a point
particle. Recently, my interest in the question was rekindled by a plausible suggestion as to electron structure in a science fiction
story. I calculated its feasibility along with those of some historical models, including several suggested by A. H. Compton, in terms
of what we do know.

A Proof of the Maximal Efficiency of the Carnot Cycle

Duygu Demirlioğlu, Holy Names University, Oakland, CA
When discussing heat engines, standard physics textbooks state that the most efficient cycle operating between two reservoirs at fixed temperature is the Carnot cycle. On a PV diagram the Carnot cycle appears to be a peculiar figure bounded by two isotherms and two adiabats. How do we show students that this cycle is indeed the most efficient one? How do we prove Carnot’s theorem in an elementary course? We will present a simple, visually elegant proof, a transformation of the oddly shaped Carnot cycle into a simple geometric figure, and a calculation of the efficiency of the cycle by essentially reading it off a diagram.

Orbiting Satellites and Elevators Through the Center of Earth

Paul Robinson, San Mateo High School, San Mateo, CA
Suppose you could bore a tunnel through the center of the earth. Further suppose you could pump all the air out of this tunnel to eliminate air friction. What would happen if you devised an elevator that dropped all the through to the other side? This would be one heck of ride–such an elevator would be like an 8,000-mile Drop Zone at Great America! How long would it take for you to reach the other side of the earth? How long would a round trip be? And how fast would you end up going at the center of the earth? It turns out the round trip time of the elevator is exactly the same time it takes a satellite to orbit the earth—about 90 minutes! This means it would take the elevator 45 minutes to reach the other side of the earth—an impressive feat considering it required no fuel! Why is the time (or period) of the elevator the same as an orbiting satellite? The solution to this problem makes an excellent review problem for either introductory college or AP students.

Using YouTube Video in the Classroom

CJ Chretien, Leadership Public Schools, Richmond, CA
YouTube can be a great, and free, educational tool for the classroom as well as for your own professional development. I will give you some ideas of how you can use YouTube videos in your classroom as well as how to download YouTube videos since it is blocked at many schools. Lastly I will introduce the new NCNAAPT YouTube channel, which is a great way to share teaching ideas within our community:

IceCube, Bringing Cutting-Edge Science into the Classroom

Casey O’Hara, Carlmont High School, Belmont, CA
In December-January of 2009-2010, I will be going to the South Pole to work with researchers from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, in conjunction with PolarTREC and the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF). The IceCube telescope is the largest research project ever attempted in Antarctica, being built to map out the universe by detecting high-energy neutrinos and cosmic rays. I will be traveling as a PolarTREC teacher to the South Pole in December of 2009 to help work on the IceCube project, while working with five other KSTF Teaching Fellows to bring the IceCube project into our classrooms by following the expedition via an online journal and webinars. This collaboration is being used as a means of exciting students about current polar research and will allow students insight into what “real” scientists do. This presentation will focus on an overview of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, and the nature of collaboration between IceCube, PolarTREC, and the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation.

One Year With a $1000 High-Speed Video Camera

Dean Baird, Rio Americano High School, Sacramento, CA
The Casio EX-F1 is a digital still camera with first-in-its-class high-speed video capabilities. In addition to being able to capture full-resolution still images at 60 frames per second, it can capture video at 300, 600, and even 1200 fps. Since the standard video playback rate is 30 fps, the EX-F1 can “slow down” events to 1/10th, 1/20th, or 1/40th of their natural speed. For $1000, you can be Harold Edgerton! One year later, no other consumer camera competes with the EX-F1 for high-speed captures. I’ll show some clips and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this breakthrough camera.

Concept Mapping Software in a High School Physics Class

Lee Trampleasure, Carondelet High School, Concord, CA
Concept maps, or graphic organizers, are a means to organize concepts to form a visual representation of the relationships between these concepts. Research shows that some students gain a better understanding by ‘mapping’ concepts in a spatial manner rather than the more traditional outline format. In my academically-diverse high school physics class, many students struggle to grasp the relationships between the words we use. I will present the software CmapTools, examples of concept maps created by my students (including handdrawn maps), and results of a survey of these students on their perception of the value of CmapTools. CmapTools is free software that runs on Windows, Macs, and Linux. It is both robust and easy to learn. CmapTools was developed by the Institute for Machine and Human Cognition (of which I am not affiliated). IMHC also provides CmapServer, a free program that allows people to share maps over the internet.

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!

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