NCNAAPT Share & Tell

Tonie Hansen – NVIDIA

The non-profit Charity foundation portion of NVIDIA is working on bringing visualization into the classroom using their computer components. Video games and simulations have been proven to help students learn visual concepts.

They are asking for people to be a part of the Advisory Committee to help beta-test the visualizations that would be available online. Please contact Toni Hansen if you’re interested.

Contact Information:

Toni Hansen, Philanthropy and Social Responsibility

2701 San Tomas Expressway

Santa Clara, CA 95050

CJ Chretien – Leadership Public Schools, Richmond

Chretien showed a few examples of video clips available online in the classroom including the recent Mythbusters episode testing the “Drop vs Shot Bullet” myth. An edited version of the episode is available for download here (removed next Thursday, October 15, 2009).

David Kagan – CSU Chico

After seeing a demonstration about the movement of a soda can that is unshaken compared to a soda can that had been shaken, Kagan wrote an article to “The Physics Teacher.” After that publication, a European TV show contacted him about it in order to use the experiment on the show.

Ann & Jon Hanks – PASCO Scientific

Explained raffle prizes: four PASCO generators for standing wave demo; dynamic set for incline plane (PASTrack). They also demoed a new modular LED strobe that can be realigned for different set-ups.

Don Rathjen – Exploratorium Teacher Institute

Rathjen explained the Science Snack based on the Exploratorium “Vanna” exhibit which is an optical illusion. It is made by taking three copies of a smiling person’s image and using two to create a modified version. It is made by cutting out the eyes and smile of one, apply them upside on one to a second. Starting with the modified and unmodified images upside down, explained that the pictures are of “smiling people.” When rotated though, it is clear one (the modified one) is not smiling. Don uses this exhibit and demonstration to explain the role the brain plays in interpretation of what our eyes see. There is more information available on the Exploratorium’s website.

Bernard Cleyet – retired

Cleyet explored the dissipation of movement of a dynamic cart using several different sensors. Beginning with a cart that had spring oscillators on either side, Cleyet graphed the displacement and found that the decay was not quite exponential. When a force probe is used, the force is fairly linear, as expected with a steel spring that obeys Hooke’s Law. Cleyet repeated the experiment with rubber bands instead of springs and found a much more extreme decay of motion. The rubber band experiment matches a historetic dissipation more than an exponential. The final trial used a magnetic repulsion array for its oscillator. For more information contact:

Bob Reklis

Reklis discussed uses for robotics in a normal physics classroom. His new endeavor is a constant velocity robot with a programmable speed with additional sensors. Currently, it has a sensor that senses an approaching wall and stops. He also plans to have sensors that allow the car to follow a set line on the ground and add a uniform acceleration mode.

Gunjan Raizada

Raizada discussed teaching Physics to children at a young age in order to inspire students to get involved and interested in Physics. She is looking for ideas on how to grow her program.

Bree Barnett Dreyfuss – Amador Valley High School

Barnett Dreyfuss discussed “blinky light” activity using small LED lights. The original idea was developed by Sebastian Martin from the Exploratorium to study motion. LED lights with three settings by Inova work well, available typically from Target in the flashlight section for ~$8. The lights are set to the second setting on “dim” which is actually oscillating 100/ second. Samples of images produced by her students are available here. Pictures can be used to show several concepts including:

–         projectile motion of objects, including those with unevenly distributed mass whose center of mass will follow a parabolic shape

–         centripetal motion when attached to a bike wheel or other rotationary device can show the different speeds that would occur at different radius from the center

–         motion of the body by attaching lights to the body and doing simple movements like running or walking

–         free fall motion of differently massed or shaped objects from the same height at the same time to experiment with air resistance or to compare horizontally launched projectiles to those dropped

Sample motion with Blinky Lights
Sample motion with Blinky Lights

Dan Gill – North Tahoe High School

Gill attempted an experiment in which he would be inside a helium filled balloon to observe the changes in sound. Several theories as to why helium affects the pitch of a person’s voice exist but he doesn’t agree with them. Planning to answer a cell phone while inside the balloon, Gill also inserted a squeaky dog toy, whistle and tuning fork. The idea came from a YouTube video of a street performer using a giant balloon. Before the experiment could be completed, the balloon burst but we are looking forward to potentially seeing it in the Spring. The video of the attempt will be available on the NCNAAPT YouTube site here.

Bill Papke – American River College

Papke wanted to share that 5mW Green lasers are available at American Science & Surplus for much less than the normal retail price. The site also carries the innards of lasers, diffraction gratings, etc. Papke also recommended the novel “Flash Forward” by Robert Sawyer which is being made into a TV series right now.

Dan Burns – Los Gatos High School

Burns shared an infrared detection card that fluoresces (change color) if exposed to infrared light and can be activated by the infrared light from a remote control. The card is made using materials that can absorb two infrared photons, jumps up an energy level and then down in steps to to release visible light. They are available for around $20, there are cheaper ones that must be activated with exposure to visible light first. Here is a link from Industrial Fiber Optics.

Carl Rosenkilde – Retired

Rosenkilde discussed the sliding bar problem that originally came from another Show & Tell a year ago by Paul Robinson.  A bar was placed along the edge of a table so that ¾ of it is off the table. The bar will fall, due to its center of mass being unsupported by the table, and will spin. The length of the bar affects how much rotation will occur (with the same initial height) and Rosenkilde showed us two different lengths, one that rotates to hit the ground at 90˚ and one at 180˚. A solution was presented as to how to prove that angular momentum is conserved. Email:

Chuck Hunt – American River College

Hunt made several announcements about the upcoming Spring meeting at the American River College in Sacramento, California during the business portion.

NCNAAPT Morning Talks on Kepler

Edna DeVore, SETI Institute,

“Transit Tracks: NASA’s Kepler Mission”

DeVore outline the educational activities available with the Kepler Mission. There are several Kepler Mission Activities, including building an LEGO Orrery, instructions available on website.

There are 374 known planets around other stars. At the Kepler Mission Workshop (details coming soon) all participants get to take home an Orrery kit that can work with a Vernier Optical Sensor to model the Kepler Mission.

A transit is when a planet is observed in front of a star. Teaching transits can reinforce graphing skills and the graphs that students produced will match the published Kepler’s graphs. All graphs, simulations and materials available at Kepler website has all instructional materials

Natalie Batalha, NASA Ames and San Jose State University,

“The Search for Habitable Worlds”

Kepler’s objective is to find habitable Earth size planets orbiting other stars. There are several things that are necessary for life and others that would be helpful. Life on Earth is incredibly diverse and some life exists in conditions that would kill other forms of life, but all forms of life are carbon based and require water. This restricts potential habitable planets to just the right distance from a star, called the “Habitable Zone,” which depends on the temperature of the star. The Transit method of detection is used to find smaller planets. The process for approval and building of Kepler was shared as well as the first images taken by Kepler. Kepler is aimed at the Summer Triangle which is a larger field of view than Hubble. Kepler is an Earth-trailing satellite. The data produced thus far shows a much clearer and refined picture than previously available. The objective of the Kepler Mission is to find out if Earth-sized planets within a habitable zone are common or rare. William Borucki is the scientist behind the Kepler Mission.

NCNAAPT Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker: Sy Liebergot; EECOM Mission Flight Controller for Apollo

This year is the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo program that culminated with landing on the moon. N Cal/Nev AAPT is pleased to commemorate mankind’s greatest adventures with a special appearance of Sy Liebergot.

Sy spoke about what it was like to be a Mission Flight Controller when a monster failure occurred during the Apollo 13 mission and landed squarely in his lap. He related the general details of the explosion as they really happened.

Paul Robinson, Program Chair and Sy Liebergot, EECOM of the Apollo Missions
Paul Robinson, Program Chair and Sy Liebergot, EECOM of the Apollo Missions

NCNAAPT Business Meeting

Run by Claudia Winkler, NCNAAPT President

Next meeting will be at American River College in the Spring:

Would like to make afternoon session to be more Show & Tell with a longer length (10 min). Include not only new ideas but also “oldies but goodies” that new teachers may not know.

Potentially have a world-class astrophotographer for the Friday night reception

Potential Topics:

–  learn how to be better physics educators

– learn how to increase people entering Physics and bring in current topics

– potentially have speakers involved in green energy & environmentally topics

– Dual topics for high school & college

– potential speaker in physics education research

– current research topics (problems) facing Physics

– No Child Left Behind issues

Potential Locations:

– CSU Chico

– Lawrence Livermore National Lab

– Exploratorium

– Academy of Science (SF)

Email ideas to:

NCNAAPT Afternoon Session

Scott Sandford, NASA Ames,

“Taking a Ride on the Wild Side: The Successful Stardust Sample Return Mission to Comet 81P/Wild 2”

One of the rare sample return mission meant to analyze the composition of a comet. There are long term benefits to sample return missions including future study and analyses that were not developed or wanted at the time of the original mission. Stardust had to make three elliptical orbits of different sizes in order to get the right timing to collect from the comet. Sandford discusses the design of Stardust including specific design challenges such as the 6km/s average speed of particles within the coma of the comet. The Wild 2 comet uses areogel to collect material from the coma. After collection, the spacecraft returned to Earth’s orbit and only the collection capsule returned to earth. The spacecraft used a heat shield similar to the Apollo missions to return to Earth in Utah Test and Training Range. Sandford helped to collect the capsule in Utah which included several practice ones involving dropping mock capsules at the range. The December 15, 2006 issue of “Science” has a detailed article about the results. The results were surprising, samples were found of more complex materials than expected and some minerals that were usually found only in hotter conditions. Several samples were also a lot larger than expected and disagrees with the traditional theory that comets are made of miscellaneous interstellar material.

Additional information available on the Stardust Mission website.