Fall 1999 Meeting of the Northern California/Nevada Section

Friday, November 5, 1999
Saturday, November 6, 1999

Olson Hall, University of Pacific, Stockton


Local Host:

Jim Hetrick

(209) 946-3128    jhetrick@uop.edu

Contact for this meeting:

Dan Burns    kilroi@lghs.net


Friday Workshop
114 Olsen Hall

The Friday workshop is titled "The Physics of Magic and Vice Versa" and runs from 1-5 PM. Dave Wall, direct from his European tour, will divulge the secrets of his amazing rope trick and other attention getting feats of magic. Discover how to make vectors one of the most popular parts of your class. The workshop registration is $10 and must be paid in advance to reserve your spot. Send your check, name, address, phone, and email by October 29 to: Dave Wall, Physics Department, San Francisco City College, 50 Phelan Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112.

No Host Reception
Valley Brew

The Valley Brewery, @ 157 W. Adams is labeled with a red star. The Brewery is near the corner of Pacific Ave. and Adams,just behind the Baskin Robins Ice Cream shop.

6:00 Refreshments

7:00 Program

John P. Knezovich, Ph.D.

Director Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Dr. Knezovich will present his work on using Mass Spectrometry to investigate environmental and biological problems


Morning Session - Room 238 Classroom Building

7:45 Registration, Coffee, Donuts, and other culinary delights. Hallway Outside Room 238

8:45 Welcome and Annoucements

9:00 - 10:00 Show & Tell

Share your favorite demonstration or teaching tip. Since new teachers and section members will be at this meeting, you are encouraged to dust off some of your oldies but goodies. If you have handouts, please bring 100 copies. Time limit: is 5 minutes per person.

10:00 - 10:15 Break

10:15 - 11: 30

Wade Williams is an engineer with the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He has a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. The National Ignition Facility is being constructed LLNL in Livermore, CA. It will be the largest laser facility in the world. It will be used to simulate the physical conditions present in nuclear explosions to help assure the nation's nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing. The talk will give a brief description of the project, focusing on some of the technical aspects of the laser design and operation.

11:40 Group photo

11:45 - 1:00 Lunch on Campus at McCaffrey Center

The grill will serve burgers (including veggie), chicken fillets, fries, o-rings, fish, etc. plus the steam table will offer made to order burritos.

Saturday Afternoon

1:15 Raffle/Business Meeting.

238 Classroom Building

2:00 New Teacher/New to AAPT Workshop

114 Olsen Hall

This workshop is intended for teachers who are either new to teaching physics and/or those who have been at it for a while but still feel like they're new! All new teachers will be networked with experienced teachers with either phone and/or email addresses. Workshop Presenters: Stephanie Finander (email: sfinander@aol.com) and Paul Robinson (laserpablo@aol.com), Lonnie Grimes, Art Fortgang, Jim Hill, Dan Burns, and other veterans. Valuable teaching tips, goodie bags, raffles where everyone wins, question and answer panel, popcorn, and more!

Contributed Papers:

SESSION A, Room 238
SESSION B, Room 170

2:00 Suspected and Unsuspected Sources of Radiation: Grandma's Drinking Cup.

Paul Peter Urone, California State University, Sacramento

Most of us are aware of sources of radiation in our working and private environments. Others lurk unsuspected. Both suspected and unsuspected sources of radiation make for lively classroom demonstrations. I will exhibit several sources of radiation, such as an emergency exit sign and Grandma's drinking cup, together with an analysis of their isotopic sources and possible hazards. Indications of appropriate classroom activities involving various sources will also be presented.

2:20 You teach too much: A List of Physics Topics Considered Nonessential in California

Dean Baird Rio Americano High School, Sacramento

I have undertaken a careful analysis of the newly adopted California Academic Standards in High School Physics. I discovered that high school physics teachers teach way too much content. I will share a surprising list of concepts and equations that we teach that are not considered essential. These topics are not included in the standards and should not be represented in statewide or districtwide physics assessments, including the Physics Golden State Exam

2:40 Does an Earthquake Announce itself with an Extremely Low Frequency "Doorbell"?

Tom Bleier, Stellar Solutions

In 1989, an obscure research project was being performed by Dr. Tony Fraser-Smith at Stanford University. It was monitoring Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) radio waves for the Navy, but instead, it detected a large ELF signal at its location, Loma Prieta mountain, two weeks before the M 7.1 earthquake. Ten years later, only a small extension of that monitoring has evolved to utilize this potential ELF-to earthquake connection. The California Localized Earthquake Observation (CLEO) project has recently been funded by Stellar Solutions to build 10 ELF monitoring stations around the Bay Area, and I will discuss the details of this inter high school science project that is listening for the ELF "doorbell".

3:00 Viewing the Periodic Table of the Elements with X-rays

Eric B. Norman1, Gregory Rech1,2, Jeffrey Lee1,3, Ruth-Mary Larimer1, and Laura Guthrie1,4

1Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

2University of California, Berkeley, CA

3University of California, Irvine, CA

4Acalanes High School, Lafayette, CA

In order to bring to life for students the nature of atomic structure and the characteristic x-ray spectra of the elements, we have developed a World Wide Web site in which students can observe actual laboratory x-ray spectra for 63 different chemical elements. We used the 59.54-keV g-ray from a radioactive source of 241Am to fluoresce samples of single elements as well as a variety of minerals, alloys, and household materials. The x-rays were observed with a high-purity planar germanium detector and collected with a PC-based data acquisition system. For the elements from calcium through thulium, the K x-rays are visible. For the elements from ytterbium through uranium, the L-x-rays are observable. Students can compare the spectra of individual elements with those of "unknown" samples in order to do qualitative analysis of the elements. We intend to offer the opportunity for students to submit samples to us to fluoresce. The resulting spectra would then be sent back to the students for analysis. We also plan to develop a stand-alone version of this material that will run on a PC and will not require access to the WWW. The address for our site is http://ie.lbl.gov/xray.

3:20 The Nuclear Science Wallchart

Richard J. McDonald, Margaret A. McMahan, Howard S. Matis, and Eric B. Norman Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The Nuclear Science Wallchart is the third in a series of charts developed by the Contemporary Physics Education Project. The chart illustrates the evolution of nuclear matter from the Big Bang to the present. The various types of radioactivity and nuclear reactions are shown along with exciting examples from contemporary research. Applications of nuclear science in everyday life are also illustrated. This chart and an accompanying Teacher's Guide are currently available on the World Wide Web at http://user88.lbl.gov/NSD_docs/abc/wallchart.html . Hard copies of the chart (in three different sizes) and the Teacher's Guide are also available for purchase from Science Kit.

3:40 More Elegant and Classic Experiments done with MBL Equipment

Richard R. Sommerfield, Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, CA

As my 1998-99 sabbatical leave project, I re-developed our physics laboratory around experiments done with Pasco's MBL equipment. Some of the most elegant, direct, fast, and easy-to do experiments that I did not show at last April's meeting are the photoelectric effect, propagation speed of waves on a stretched wire, the magnetic field on the axis of a Helmholtz coil, the magnetic force on a current-carrying wire, the magnetic torque on a current-carrying coil, the wavelength of sound via a resonance tube, refractive index as a function of wavelength, moment of inertia of a precessing gyroscope rotor, coefficient of restitution, and Faraday's law of induction. These experiments will be shown via videotape.

2:00 Bending Light in a Liquid with a Variable Index of Refraction

Chris Gaffney and Cheuk-kin Chau, Physics Dept., CSU Chico

The most common example of bending light rays is when the light strikes the interface between two materials each with a different light speed, or index of refraction. This refraction only occurs if the ray strikes at an angle to the interface surface. However, refraction can also occur for a ray striking perpendicular to a medium's surface, if the medium has a variable index of refraction along its surface boundary. This effect can be experimentally demonstrated by shining a HeNe laser beam, spread by a cylindrical lens, through a small cell of fluid onto a screen. The index gradient in the cell is produced by solute molecules diffusing through water. The cylindrical lens spreads the beam into a plane with a straight line cross section which samples the index gradient at different parts of the cell. The projected beam on the screen gives a direct graphical representation of the index gradient throughout the fluid. In our experiment we observe the index gradient curve to change slowly with time. The shape of the experimental curve and its change with time may be quantitatively compared with diffusion theory.

2:20 Intoductory Astronomy Labs Using Excel

Stephen D. Murray, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

We've written two Excel-based astronomy labs for use in courses by non-science majors. In the first the students are introduced to Kepler's Laws, and in the second they are introduced to stellar structure, and the basic principles of doing numerical models of stars. In both labs, the procedures are preceded by several introductory pages, which would allow them to be used in a distance education environment as well as a lab. Movement through the labs, and saving results is heavily automated, using the Excel's VBA language. This avoids requiring the students to learn advanced Excel features, though they are introduced to many of the Excel features used in the labs during "tours" after each procedure. The labs are currently in use in the "Introduction to Astronomy Lab" course at Las Positas College. They are freely available to any interested parties, either via email or the web.

2:40 Master of Arts in Science Teaching

Dr. David Kagan Chair - Department of Physics CSUC

California State University, Chico has developed an Interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Science Teaching (see http://www.csuchico.edu/~lmaslin/sci_tg/sci_web.html). This program is designed for in-service teachers and therefor, most of the instruction happens through the internet. As part of the Elementary/Middle School track, I am currently teaching "Physical Science for Elementary/Middle School Teachers" (see http://phys.csuchico.edu/kagan/NSCT/). I will present an overview of this course and a progress report.

3:00 What have computers done to physics?

James E. Hetrick, Chair, Physics Department,

University of the Pacific

The use of modern computers to solve numerical problems has had a profound impact on physics, which our students must be aware of. In this talk I present an overview of the state of high performance computing and a cursory look at a few problems where computational physics is having a profound impact. I will outline the basics of an undergraduate computational physics course, and discuss the philosophical change in the scientific method to include theory, experimentation, and simulation.

3:20 Research with Undergraduates: A Different and Essential Learning

L.C. Krysac Department of Physics, University of the Pacific.

Classroom teaching of physics, out of necessity, uses examples with an answer. Laboratory teaching, out of expediency of time and to reduce the frustration of the students, can only deal with experiments which we know ahead of time work (at least in principle when performed by the teacher). There remains a skill which could be taught at the undergraduate or high school level but is usually not addressed: the skill of approaching real world problems in science which do not necessarily have an immediate or available solution. Considering the rapidly developing technological world in which our graduates eventually will be working, the skill of creative problem solving is essential. Involving students in pure research projects is one way of allowing students to develop that skill in a relatively safe environment. How students can be involved in research, the problems they face and the skills they can learn by doing so will be discussed.

3:40 Using Planetarium Software in the Classroom

Jason Harlow Department of Physics, University of the Pacific

There are several Planeterium Software packages available for Windows and Mac. I have used one such package, ``Starry Night Deluxe'', as a demonstration tool and as an interactive demonstration in a computer laboratory. Traditional concepts such as the diurnal and annual motion of stars can be shown. In addition, Starry Night Deluxe allows the user to travel through time and around the Solar System. One can choose to view the planets from various perspectives, including the perspective of standing on the surface of any planet or moon. The graphics are good; the program makes use of the best of the Voyager and latest Hubble Space Telescope images. The Solar System model is also quite thorough and accurate, allowing realistic, colorful and exciting demonstration of Solar System Astronomy.


Registration for the meeting is waived for first-time attendees.


Invite a teacher or professor from a neighboring school, bring some students, all are welcome.


Jim Hetrick has a page on the UOP campus server with several maps to guide you to UOP. Click here to access his page.


Courtyard by Marriott
3252 W. March Lane

Ramada Inn
111 E. March Lane

LaQuinta Inn
2710 W. March Lane

Red Roof Inn
2654 W. March Lane

Radisson Hotel Stockton
2323 Grand Canal Blvd.


The Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics is holding a Workshop for Physics Teachers on Saturday, November 13. Click here for more information.

Project PHYSLab 2000

Learn how to integrate computer interfacing equipment into your classroom from the people who invented it. This workshop is conducted during the first 3 weeks of July and includes a stipend plus lodging, food, and travel expenses. Contact Lowell G. Herr at lherr@physlab.catlin.edu For more information see http://physlab.catlin.edu

Loma Prieta Physics Alliance (LOPPA)

LOPPA is a consortium of high school, community college, and college level physics teachers serving the Santa Clara County region. We meet about six times over the school year for collaboration, sharing, growth, and encouragement. For more information, email Randy Hoopai at: rphoopai@juno.com

Activity Based Physics Institutes

Institutes for physics and physical science teachers will be held at the University of Oregon and at Dickinson College this summer and next. Application deadline is February 14, 2000. Click here for more information.

Updated 10/18/99
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