Spring 1999 Joint Meeting of the Northern California/Nevada & Southern California Sections

Friday, April 9, 1999

Saturday, April 10, 1999


Friday Schedule

Saturday Schedule

Preregistration Required

Lunch Arrangements

Invited Speakers

Concurrent Sessions (Sat.)




Friday Morning

10:30 - 3:00 Friday Workshops

Two exciting workshops are planned for Friday. Using Global Positioning System Transponders in Physics and an Astronomy workshop will be offered along with a tour of the NASA Ames facilities. Each workshop costs $12 in advance, and registration deadline is 4/2/99. To register, send a check, workshop choice, name, address, telephone and e-mail address to: Andria Erzberger, 1400 Queens Road, Berkeley, CA 94708, or contact her at aerzber@worldnet.att.net.

Friday Afternoon

3:00 - 5:30 NASA Ames Tour

Join us for a guided tour of the premier aeronautics research facility in the world including the world's largest wind tunnel and the control tower simulator. Registration is required, this tour will fill up. Contact Dan Burns, NCNAAPT Secretary to register.

Friday Evening

5:30 - 7:30 Reception at NASA Ames Visitor Center

Hosted by Pasco and Vernier Software

Stroll past historic and fascinating exhibits while munching on pizza and enjoying your favorite beverage (as long as it's beer, wine, or soda). We will conclude the evening with a talk by NASA astrophysicist Scott Sandford: "Seeking Evidence of the Primitive Solar System: STARDUST and Meteorites from Antarctica"

Saturday Morning

Morning Session - Ballroom - Moffet Training and Conference Center (Bldg 3)

7:45 Registration, Coffee, Donuts, and other culinary delights.

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: 00 Invited Speaker

Kent Cullers is a Senior Scientist and the Project Manager for Project Phoenix at the SETI Institute. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1980 (the first totally blind physicist in the United States). Kent worked for NASA's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program upon graduating from Berkeley. The character Kent Clark played by William Fichtner in the film "Contact" was based on Kent Cullers.

11:15 - Noon Invited Speaker

Sean Casey is an astronomer with NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy Program. SOFIA, NASA and the German space agency, DLR, are working together to create SOFIA - a Boeing 747-SP aircraft modified to accommodate a 2.5 meter reflecting telescope. SOFIA will be the largest airborne telescope in the world, and will make observations that are impossible for even the largest and highest of ground-based telescopes. SOFIA will be based at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield near Mountain View, California, and is expected to begin flying in the year 2001.

12 Noon Lunch

One of the best things about going to an AAPT meeting is networking with other teachers. One of the most delicious ways to do this is over a nice lunch wih a hundred other physics teachers around. You have that opportunity to dine with your colleagues at the historic Moffet Officers Club (ask Robin McGlohn about the history), and it's only $8 per person. Lunch includes your choice of sandwich, chips, brownie, and beverage. Lunch tickets will be sold at registration.

Noon to 2:00

Moffet Naval Base Museum and Hangar One Tour. Check out the former home of the U. S. Naval Airship Macon, a building so large it has its own weather!

Saturday Afternoon

1:15 Raffle/Business Meeting.

Northern Cal/Nevada - Ballroom

Southern Cal - Patio Room

2:00 New Teacher Workshop - Northwing

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. Valuable teaching tips, goodie bags, raffles where everyone wins, question and answer panel, popcorn, and more!

2:00 Concurrent Sessions

Session A - Ballroom

Session B -Patio Room


2:00 The Mother of All Spreadsheets: Boomerang Simulator

Scott Perry, American River College

Abstract: Why does a boomerang return? What's a "Dingle Arm"? The dynamics underlying the operation of a boomerang will be discussed. Comparisons between the simulated flight and the actual flight of a boomerang will be presented.




2:00 Teaching Conceptual and Analytical Physics Simultaneously

Paul Peter Urone, California State University, Sacramento

Over the past three decades there has been a growing awareness that the conceptual aspects of physics must be addressed overtly when teaching physics at both introductory and more advanced levels. There has, however, been an unfortunate tendency to separate concepts from analytical aspects as if numerical examples did not also have conceptual implications. A number of techniques for treating concepts simultaneously with analytical aspects of physics will be presented These include discussing the conceptual implications of every numerical problem and the construction of content-rich problems with conceptual questions imbedded in them.



2:20 Swept Away by Swept-Back Wings

Lew Epstein, University of California, Berkeley

Why are airplane wings usually swept back? What are the advantages? Is it just because it looks cool? Find out from Lew.


2:20 SOFIA Education and Public Outreach

Edna DeVore, SOFIA Program and SETI Institute

The SOFIA Program has ambitious plans for disseminating the knowledge gained from its flying observatory and communicating the excitement of science on the cutting edge. Plans for including teachers in doing astronomical research with SOFIA will be discussed.


2:40 Classic Expeiments with MBL

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

Some of the most elegant, direct, fast, and easy-to-do experiments that I have done with PASCO MBL equipment will be shown. Among these are the determination of a spring constant, the conservation of angular momentum, interference and diffraction patterns, the ratio of molar heat capacities, the shear modulus of a torsion pendulum wire, and the speed of sound in air. Video of the experiments will be shown.

2:40 FmN with Friction

Glenn Johnson, Ukiah High School

Friction can be a difficult topic for students due to their misconceptions. A simple classroom demonstration will be shown that illustrates a common misconception in high school and undergraduate textbooks regarding the equation F = mN and surface area.


3:00 Since When did Centrifugal Force Become Real?

Clarence Bakken, Gunn High School

On one of their web sites, NASA published an article carefully explaining centrifugal force, basing much of their argument on the concept of "inertial force." I will show their article and demonstrate how very slight re-wording can eliminate this fictitious force and the totally erroneous inertial force. For your own reference, go to http://observe.ivv.nasa.gov/nasa/exhibits/toys_space/factsheet.html and follow through on the "Car & Track" article and the link to "Centrifugal Force".


3:00 What's New at Vernier Software?

Jake Hopkins, Vernier Software

As a long time leader in physics software and equipment, Vernier Software continues to produce useful products for the classroom. The latest of these innovations will be discussed and demonstrated as well as ideas for use in the classroom


3:20 Experiments with Electrical Resistive Networks

Bruce Denardo, Department of Physics, Naval Postgraduate School,

Theoretical problems involving equivalent resistances of large or infinite networks of resistors have received substantial attention. We consider two actual networks. In the first, the resistance is measured across one end of a ladder whose number of loops is incremented until the precision of the multimeter is exceeded. In the second, resistances are measured across nodes near the center of a 12 by 12 square grid of resistors. These experiments are useful in the introductory physics laboratory as interesting examples of equivalent resistance, and can be added to a standard Ohm's law experiment. The square grid apparatus also can be employed for lecture demonstrations. In addition, this apparatus offers approximate experimental confirmation of complicated theoretical calculations for the equivalent resistance between two nonadjacent nodes of an infinite square grid. These experimental results are verified numerically.

3:20 Orbital Simulations

Dan Burns, Los Gatos High School

It is difficult for students to gain experience of how gravity affects objects of similar mass and how more than two objects interact under the influence of gravity. Computer simulations can fill this gap, allowing students to create (and destroy) their own solar systems. Mac and PC programs will be compared. Sample lesson plans and information on obtaining orbit simulators will be provided.


3:40 Nanotechnology as a Physics Thematic Unit

Steve Salkovics, Cloverdale High School

Nanotechnology has become a popular buzzword. NT is a great thematic topic which can link physics to many other science disciplines, soceity technology science, and popular literature and culture. It seems likely that functional NT will be developed sometime soon. A sample lesson plan that uses NT to link physics with social concerns will be provided.


NASA Ames and the MTCC Has Been Made Available to the AAPT Thanks to the Generous Support and Tirless Effort of the following Organizations:

NASA Ames Research Center, Office of Public Affairs

NASA Ames Research Center, SOFIA Project Office

SOFIA Education and Public Outreach Program

The SETI Institute

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Special Notice - Pre-Registration

Due to security requirements we must ask you to pre-register for the Spring Meeting at NASA Ames. If your name appears on this mailing label and you are a U. S. citizen, you are already pre-registered. If your name does not appear and/or you are not a U. S. citizen, you must pre-register by sending your name, address, phone, and/or email, section affiliation (No. or So Cal) and citizenship status to Dan Burns, Los Gatos High School, 20 High School Court, Los Gatos, CA 95030, or email it to kilroi@lghs.net.

Photo ID Required for Entrance to NASA !


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

Promoting Active Learning in Introductory Physics Courses

Instructors: Priscilla Laws, Dickinson College; David Sokoloff, University of Oregon; and Ronald Thornton, Tufts University.

Course I: First Semester Topics--June 3-5, 1999, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Course II: Second Semester Topics--June 17-19, 1999, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon

These NSF-sponsored Chautauqua courses are designed for those interested in making major changes in introductory physics courses or in other introductory science courses. The focus will be on giving participants direct experience with methods for promoting active student involvement in the learning process through activity-based physics strategies using computers and the research-based Workshop Physics, Tools for Scientific Thinking and RealTime Physics curricula. (Copies of these curricula will be distributed to participants.) The microcomputer-based tools used are available for Macintosh, Windows and MS-DOS computers. Open to teachers of undergraduate students in institutions of higher education in the U.S. High school teachers and faculty from outside the U.S. are also admitted if space is available.

For more information contact: David Sokoloff, Department of Physics, 1274 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1274, E-mail: sokoloff@oregon.uoregon.edu, Phone: (541) 346-4755, Fax: (541) 346-5861.

Golden State Examination in Physics Seeks Scorers

The Golden State Examination (GSE), a high school exam administered statewide will offer for the first time a Physics test this spring. More than 48,000 students statewide have indicated interest in taking the test!! Scoring sessions are held throughout the state during July and August. We are looking for Physics teachers who are experienced in evaluating student work to participate in one of the five day scoring sessions. Payment of $100 per day or substitute reimbursements to districts, as well as travel expenses, will be provided by the Sacramento County Office of Education. Teachers who have participated in previous GSE scoring sessions have commented that it is a worthwhile and energizing, as well as a rigorous and challenging experience. Most readers find they come away with many benefits, including:

The Physics scoring sessions are as follows: July 26-30 in Santa Clara and August 2-6 in a yet undetermined location. If you are interested in getting a reader application for Summer 1999, please contact Sherry Arnold at (916) 228-2660 or e-mail her at sarnold@sac-co.k12.ca.us.


By popular demand, there will be a special Saturday afternoon workshop for teachers new to physics teaching and/or AAPT. The workshop will be hosted by experienced teachers eager to share tricks of the trade.


Do you have anything you would like to share with a new physics teacher? Bring duplicate lab manuals, books, working items of demonstration or lab equipment; teaching ideas, worksheets, or tests (50 copies if possible); or anything else you wish you knew about when you started teaching. Trade your donated items for raffle tickets when you register.

REGISTRATION FEE&emdash;What a Deal!

Registration fee for this meeting will be $10. Registration is waived for first-time attendees.

Directions to NASA Ames :

The spring meeting will be held at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. NASA Ames is just off freeway 101, north of San Jose and south of San Francisco. Additional directions, suggested motels, etc. are given on the preliminary announcement page. Click here.



Directions to the Moffett Training and Conference Center

From North ( San Francisco ):

  1. 101 South
  2. Exit at Moffett Field, take the overpass towards NASA-Ames Research Center
  3. Park at the Badge Office, to the right of the Main Gate to Obtain Visitor Pass
  4. Proceed on Clark Road
  5. Bear right onto South Akron Rd. (one way)
  6. Left on Cummins (one way)
  7. Left on North Akron Rd. (one way)
  8. Left on Severyns (Building 3, Moffett Training and Conference Center on your right)

From South ( San Jose ):

  1. 101 North
  2. Exit at Moffett Field, bearing right, towards NASA-Ames Research Center
  3. Park at the Badge Office, to the right of the Main Gate to Obtain Visitor Pass
  4. Proceed on Clark Road
  5. Bear right onto South Akron Rd. (one way)
  6. Left on Cummins (one way)
  7. Left on North Akron Rd. (one way)
  8. Left on Severyns (Building 3, Moffett Training and Conference Center on your right)

The meeting will take place in the Moffett Training and Conference Center, which will be marked on the days of the meeting.

Posted 3/23/99
Contact the Webmaster with corrections or additions.