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Spring Meeting – Mt. Diablo HS – April 28/29

We’ll be in Concord for our Spring Meeting!

Our keynote speaker is Jessie Dotson, project scientist for NASA’s K2 Mission.  We’ll also have all of the other things that make our meetings so much fun,  Share&Tell, a panel, workshops and we are bringing back the poster session. If you paid dues last Fall, registration is free (we’ll send you an email with a discount code), otherwise dues are $20. Click here to register for the main event:

very tentative schedule of events:

Friday Night Social: Meet us at Mt. Diablo HS for a movie , some pizza and cool friends.  Time TBA.

Saturday Timeline
8:00     Registration, Coffee, & Breakfast Food
A special thanks to Vernier for helping to subsidize coffee&snacks.

8:30-8:55 Poster Session (Registration & Breakfast continue)
If you have a poster abstract, drop us a line at  We subsidize posters, $5 for high school teachers.

8:55- 9:00 Official Welcome

9:00-10:00 Show & Tell
Bring your favorite demo to share with us.  If you are making photocopies for distribution, 75 is a good number.

10-11:15 Invited Speaker: Jessie Dotson

11:15-11:25 Break

11:25-11:45 Business Meeting
We will have an election!  If you are interested in serving as an officer, send an email to  We will hear from our Treasurer and Section Rep.

11:45 Group Photo

12-1:30 Lunch with Table Topics and Poster Reprise
Most likely tacos.  Sit with old friends, new friends or at a topic table. Possible topic tables: AP Physics, Physics First, Rookie Teachers, Two Year Colleges, Next Generation Science Standards, Labs and/or anything you want to bring to the table that meets a critical mass. These topic tables allow time for informal but focused conversations about topics important to those in attendance.

1:30-3:00 Workshops
1:30-3:00 College Roundup

3:00 March for Science Follow-Up
No, it’s never too early to think about carpooling:



Call for Presentations



Are you doing something that should be shared with other physics teachers?  Will it take more time than the five-minute limit in Share-and-Tell?  In that case, please sign up to present a presentation or workshop.

What topics can be covered?  Anything that tickles your fancy as a physics teacher that you think will help our community.  This could be a neat experiment, original research, cool projects for your students, a report-back from a field trip that worked, an innovative way to approach grading, or anything else that you would like to share with fellow teachers.

Spring Conference – April 22/23 at Foothill College

We’ll be back at Foothill in April!

We are very pleased to have Carl Wieman, 2001 Nobel Prize winner, and the driving force behind the PhET simulations, as our keynote speaker.  The title of his talk is “Taking a scientific approach to teaching physics.”

Continue reading Spring Conference – April 22/23 at Foothill College

Keynote Speaker: Douglas Stone

Einstein’s scientific image was systematically distorted for historical reasons (not discussed here) however Einstein spent much more time on quantum theory than anything else (including relativity). Stone discovered and wrote an article on some of Einstein’s early and extremely lucid explanations of the problem with quantizing chaos. The article appeared in 2005 during the World Year of Physics and resulted in many speaking engagements which sparked Stone’s intensive research into Einstein’s life and works. Most of the available literature on Einstein’s research was too technical for the general public so Stone wrote his own. Continue reading Keynote Speaker: Douglas Stone

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Pascal Lee

Dr. Lee gave us information about the plans for the first human mission to Mars. He gave a background of the surface temperatures, pressures and topography all of which present unique difficulties to a human mission. Lee shared the mission goals and results from each of the successful rover missions. He was able to share several images from the Mars missions to discuss the difference in terrain, air quality and the sky. The sky on Mars is only blue at sunrise and sunset as the sky clears of dust. Conjuction vs Opposition timing plans each have their benefits and drawbacks to the amount of time in space and the amount of time spent on the surface of Mars. There are private endeavors including the Inspiration Mars program. Lee is more interested in whether or not Mars has alien life, as in different from our own, more than if there is life on Mars. He advocates the continued exploration and study of Mars and hopefully an eventual human mission to Mars. Lee believes that NASA plans and achievements will help increase science education and the number of students that graduate with upper level degrees in Science. A similar trend was seen after the Apollo missions in the 1960’s. Continue reading Keynote Speaker: Dr. Pascal Lee

Key Note Speakers: Dave & Christine Vernier

Dave and Christine shared their roots in teaching and the inspiration for and gradual start of their company. The Verniers began writing software for Physics teachers years ago and eventually partnered with Pasco to write their software. Both companies grew and eventually Vernier began creating their own part kits. Vernier partnered with Texas Instruments to create software for their CBL calculator program and eventually created their own interfaces. The Verniers also shared stories and information about their company, employees and plans for growth. They also shared new sensors, program updates, etc. coming soon.

Dave is also experimenting with the Arduino systems. More information about their endeavors are here on their website. He demonstrated a program using a motion detector that allows a laser pointer to move based on the motion of a hand above the motion detector. The program should be available on their website.

Spring 2013 Share n’ Tell

Further updates and links to come… If you have any corrections please let the secretary know.

Tom Woosnam , Crystal Springs Uplands School

Tom discussed the Perimeter Institute; more information is available here: Perimeter Institute Catalogue (1)

Don Rathjen, Exploratorium Continue reading Spring 2013 Share n’ Tell

Business Meeting

Election of officers: 
David Marasco will continue as President, and will also absorb Program Chair
Dennis Buckley will continue as Treasurer and Membership Coordinator
Frank Cascarano will continue as VP Colleges/ Universities
Leanna Felardo will continue as VP of High Schools
Bree Barnett Dreyfuss will continue as Secretary
Lee Trampleasure will continue as Webmaster and will also be the Section Rep
Paul Robinson will continue as a Historian
Tom Woosnam will continue to provide insight as a Past President

Continue reading Business Meeting

Fall Conference 2011 Invited Speaker

We are pleased to announce that the invited speaker for our Fall 2011 Conference will Richard Mullerbe UC Berkeley’s own Richard Muller. Muller is a professor of the popular “Physics for Future Presidents” class at UC Berkeley and author of a popular book of the same name. Muller is also a Faculty Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and associated with the Institute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics. Read more about Muller’s career, interests and most recent book, “The Instant Physicist,” on his website.

Save the Date for the UC Berkeley Physics Department Demo Show Friday Nov. 4th and the section Conference on Nov. 5th!