The Fall 2005 Meeting
Northern California/Nevada Section AAPT
Friday & Saturday,
November 4–5, 2005
The World Year of Physics 2005 — Exploring the Universe
PTRA Workshop: Friday, 10 AM–4:30 PM
Ranking Tasks for Physics and TIPERS
Cancelled, alas, for low enrollment. Go to the Friday Evening Social!
Starts when you get there; ends when you leave!
No-host Bar, No-host Dinner, in fact—it's No-host Everything!
However, the Sierra Nevada Brewery is an excellent watering hole, and it has good food, too.
Many people will be driving from afar, so although no formal program is scheduled,
this is an excellent opportunity to indulge in delightful conversation with your fellow AAPT'ers.
Driving directions |
Other restaurant alternatives nearby
Saturday Morning, November 5, 2005
Ayers Hall 120
Coffee, Donuts, and other culinary
What a deal!
The fee is waived for first-time attendees
and students! The rest of us pay only $15. A
bargain at twice the price!
8:45 Welcome and Announcements
9:00 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 75
copies. Time limit is 5 minutes per
10:00 Invited Speaker: "This is Your Universe"
Sidewalk Astronomer and Cosmologist,
John Dobson, creator of the "Dobsonian" telescope mount,
co-founder of the
Sidewalk Astronomers Organization
will share his interpretations on observational evidence in astronomy.
Since is there is none for creation, he'll leave it out.
What is the universe made of? What kind of energy does it run on?
John Dobson's scientific musings are very thought provoking and,
like Einstein's Relativity, require us to re-examine many of our long-held views.
His theories in physics and cosmology boldly break new ground
and significantly challenge the scientific orthodoxy.
Bring your impossible questions the grownups would never answer!
11:00 Invited Speaker: "Rare Earth"
Department of Astronomy, University of Washington,
My colleague Peter Ward and I sought to challenge
the widespread notion that complex,
even intelligent life is common in the universe.
In 1974, Drake and Sagan postulated a million civilizations
may exist in the Milky Way galaxy alone.
We did not think that credible, and put forth an alternative theory,
the Rare Earth Hypothesis,
using information gathered over the years in paleontology,
geology, climatology, and astronomy.
A number of important physical factors will be discussed
including plate techtonics, the Moon,
a stable Jupiter at the right distance from Earth to clean up comets,
and some unique events in Earth's history,
such as Snowball Earth episodes and the Cambrian Explosion,
vital events in the evolution of life that might be very unlikely
to occur on an alien planet. Thus life is very common in the universe,
perhaps more common than even Drake and Sagan anticipated,
while complex life—animals and higher plants—is quite rare.
12:00 LUNCH: To be announced
1:30 Raffle/Business Meeting:
Get informed on Section news and other cool stuff.
Paul Robinson will give a Section Rep report
on the new meeting models currently under consideration by the national AAPT.
Afternoon Program: Contributed Papers
Retreads: Retired Scientists as Volunteers in Schools
Neil Lark, University of the Pacific (Emeritus) TOPS
| The TOPScience program (that's Teaching Opportunities for Partners in
Science) trains retired scientists and engineers to work in partnership with
teachers to present science in elementary schools. The program provides
class-size kits of materials for hands-on activities which meet the
standards of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, and trains
both scientists and teachers to use them. A Lead Teacher at the school is
the focal point for coordination and scheduling. The nominal time
commitment for the scientist is two hours per week for the school year, but
schedules are flexible. More information on TOPS is available at
(NB: this site has been sporadic Oct-Nov 2005)
Who said Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is hard to comprehend?
Gunn High School, Palo Alto, CA
I prepared a Flash animation to explain relativity to the layman
for the occasion of the 2005 Year of Physics.
The process of taking a relatively hard concept and trying
to make it as simple as possible through animation was extraordinarily enriching.
As science teachers we know how hard it is to explain difficult concepts to our students.
We enlist different teaching strategies in our instruction such as lecturing,
guided explorations, formal lab activities, and webquest.
I will demonstrate how Flash provides another vehicle for differentiated instruction.
Boltzmann's Light Engine
Department of Physics,
California State University, Chico
In 1879 Josef Stefan established experimentally that the energy density of electromagnetic radiation
within a cavity (blackbody radiation) was proportional to the fourth power of temperature of the cavity walls.
In 1884 Ludwig Boltzmann proposed a theoretical model to account for this temperature dependence.
While most physicists are quite familiar with the Stefan-Boltzmann law,
its usual derivation rests on Planck's quantum hypothesis of 1900.
Hmmm… how did Boltzmann do it? This talk will focus on answering this question.
Measuring the Distance to a Star Using a Digital Camera
Scott Perry, Butte College
|Nicolas Copernicus was able to determine
the relative distance from the Sun to each of the planets known in his day.
In that spirit, it is possible to use digital photometry to determine the distance to a star
in Astronomical Units using some rather naïve assumptions.
This is something that you can do with your students once they understand that the light
from a point source diminishes as the inverse square of the distance.
Cooling Properties of Beverage Containers
Andrew Fisher and
David Kagan, Chico State
|Recently certain companies have begun the practice of selling beverages
in aluminum bottles.
Sources have claimed that these bottles would allow said beverages
to cool down more quickly and (in violation of the Laws of Thermodynamics) to stay cold longer.
We used controlled conditions to compare the cooling times of glass bottles vs. aluminum bottles.
A theoretical model will presented to explain the results of the lab work.
The Mechanics and Benefits of Mixed-Ability Lab Groups
in High School Physics
Dean Baird, Rio Americano High School, Sacramento, CA
Many teachers reduce their lab-grading chores by scoring only one lab write-up per group. But how can you make sure all students are working to the best of their ability on the lab task and write-up? How can you keep students from segregating themselves into groups of “haves” and “have-nots” in terms of aptitude? Heterogeneous lab groups have worked for me. I will show how to create and manage mixed-ability lab groups in a high school physics course, and the educational benefits of doing so.
A Coupled Magnetic Oscillator
Brendan Diamond, SPS Chico Chapter, CSU Chico
An intriguing oscillatory system can be created using small magnets
fixed on the edge of parallel rotating planes.
This investigation began by examining the behavior
of such an oscillator constructed with "Geomag" magnetic toys.
In attempting to model the system, a simplified version of the problem was considered:
two magnetic dipoles separated along a common axis of rotation.
The observed effect is an oscillation in velocity between the sections of the toy.
The theoretical model's predictions were compared to data collected
from this oscillator apparatus and match surprisingly well.
Winter AAPT National Meeting
January 21–25, 2006
Spring NCNAAPT Section Meeting
April 21–22, 2006
San Mateo High School (Pablo's new digs!), San Mateo, CA
Summer AAPT National Meeting
July 22–26, 2006
Fall NCNAAPT Section Meeting
Menlo School, Robin McGlohn, Host, Menlo Park, CA
Spring NCNAAPT Section Meeting
Stanford University, Rick Pam, Host
Attention New Physics Teachers! Check Out PTSOS!
PTSOS is an NCNAAPT-sponsored project funded by
a donation from the Karl Brown Foundation, that
assists physics teachers in their vulnerable first
years of teaching. PTSOS is headed by
Paul Robinson, Dean Baird,
Stephanie Finander. The next round of
workshops will begin next fall. New teachers
should email Stephanie Finander at
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on
how to get signed up for next year's program now.
See also: http://www.ptsos.org
November 2, 2005