Category Archives: Teaching equipment

NCN AAPT Spring Meeting / Mini Conference

Friday & Saturday April 16th & 17th, 2010

American River College

Sacramento, CA (see map below)
Local Host: Chuck Hunt: email:

Sign up to present

Call for Presentations

We solicit presentations of 15 minutes in length. Suitable topics include teaching ideas, research projects, laboratory techniques, novel demonstrations, computers and instruction. Please send an abstract of your talk, with title, your name and affiliation, AV and equipment requests, and other requirements to the Program Chairman, Paul Robinson, preferably by email at Deadline for submission is Friday, March 5, 2010.

Call for Demonstrations

Bring your favorite 5-minute demonstration for the popular “Show ‘n’ Tell”. Handouts describing your demonstration are encouraged. Likewise, giving contributed papers as Show ‘N Tells is specifically discouraged. Offenders will be gonged! Sign ups are day of the event, first come, first served (although it seems those who signs up always gets to present!). Do you have a great resource you want to share but are nervous about presenting to your peers? Our Show ‘n’ Tell is low pressure and a great place to give your first presentation at a teaching conference!


Friday Evening Social

Plan on getting together Friday evening before the meeting. More details to follow in the program. We’ll also provide references for local lodging for Friday evening.

Saturday meeting/mini conference

Saturday starts at 8:00 with registration and socializing, and usually finishes 3:30/4:00. We have a brief business meeting around lunch time. Coffee/donuts is provided, and lunch is usually available for a reasonable price (reservations for lunch required). Exact details will be published once we have our speaker list set.

Other details

Dues and Don’ts

Section dues are $25 per year, due each Fall. If you cannot attend the meeting, remain an active member that will ensure you’ll receive all our mailings by sending dues to our treasurer Dennis Buckley, Liberty High School, 850 Second St., Brentwood, CA 94513. The registration fee for the Spring meeting is $10, payable at the door. First-timers are free! And don’t forget PTSOS participants—your dues are already paid!

Physics Teacher SOS (PTSOS)

PTSOS is an NCN-AAPT-sponsored project, funded by a substantial donation, allowing AAPT to deliver top quality help to physics teachers in their vulnerable first years of teaching. Workshops are now conducted in both San Mateo and Sacramento. Other veteran teachers are being signed up to help out small groups of local teachers through mentorships and also to help run workshops. Interested teachers are encouraged to visit the website ( and contact outreach coordinator Stephanie Finander at for more information.


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Other Upcoming AAPT Events

  • Winter AAPT Meeting, Washington DC, February 13-17, 2010
  • Summer Meeting, AAPT, Portland Oregon, July 17-21, 2010
  • Fall Meeting, NCN AAPT, 2010, not yet scheduled

NCNAAPT fall meeting/workshop at NASA Ames, October 10, 2009


Mark your calendars

The fall NCNAPT meeting/workshops will be held at NASA Ames Research Center on October 10th, 2009.

Keynote speaker will be Sy Liebergot, EECOM from Apollo 13.

More details will be posted soon, including registration links, call for presentations, etc.

Advanced Lab Topical Conference at U. of Michigan

Dear Advanced/Intermediate Lab Faculty and Technical Staff,

I encourage you to consider attending the Advanced Lab Topical Conference  at U. of Michigan, July 23-25 (just before the summer AAPT meeting). These conferences only happen about every 15 years, and should be of considerable interest to faculty and technical staff involved with college-level physics labs beyond the introductory level. Details can be found on the conference web page

Registration will be capped at 120 and we currently have at least 100
registrants, so sign up soon if you plan to attend.

Lost cost ($150) registration has been extended and there is low cost
housing in the dorms as well as discounted airfares using the AAPT summer
meeting discount code. You can attend the Topical Conference without
attending the AAPT meeting, although you are encouraged to go to both.


Jim Lockhart

James M. Lockhart, Ph.D.
Professor and Assoc. Chair
Physics and Astronomy Dept.
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94132-4163
415-338-2451  FAX 415-338-2178

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.