Spring Meeting of the AAPT
Northern California/Nevada Section
At Sonoma State University

Friday & Saturday, April 4 & 5, 2002


Local Host: Joe Tenn

Lots of local information on this page that Joe posted!

Note: Sonoma State University is located in Rohnert Park, CA, not in Sonoma!


Friday Workshops

Teachers are welcome to contact our President, Mike Ugawa, for a letter of support to assist them obtaining funds and release time to attend this conference.

"New Teacher Workshop" (10 - 4 PM) Paul Robinson and other Vets

Salazar Hall, Room 2009A

This is the second time we’ve offered this popular workshop on Friday afternoon (instead of Saturday afternoon) so that participants don’t have to miss out on the contributed papers. If there are insufficient signups for Friday, we will revert to our previous Saturday format. It 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. The workshop includes valuable teaching tips, goodie bags, raffles where everyone wins, question and answer panels, popcorn, and more! Although there is no fee, interested participants should email Paul at laserpablo@aol.com to register or for more information. Even if you can't make it, here is a link to a page full of valuable stuff, whether you're a new teacher or an experienced one.

"Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy Workshop" (10 - 4 PM) Richard Cooper, Gettysburg College

Stevenson Hall, Room 2044

PA roject CLEhas been developed nine computer-based exercises designed for the introductory astronomy laboratory.  These exercises simulate important techniques of astronomical research using digital data and Windows-based software. Each of the 9 exercises developed to date consists of software, technical guides for teachers, and student manual. There is no fee, but please email Richard Cooper of Gettysburg College, PA at dcooper@gettysburg.edu to register or for more information.


Friday Evening Social

There will be a dinner on campus if enough people indicate interest by March 23. Send reservation to joe.tenn@sonoma.edu

Meet at Darwin Hall 7:30 PM

Come early&endash;come all for a laser light show produced by the SSU's very own lab tech, Steve Anderson! Come see the light!

Light refreshments and libations will be served. Telescope viewingwith a 14" Celestron at 8:30 PM, weather permitting.


Saturday Program

SATURDAY, April 5, 2003

Morning Session, Darwin Hall, Room 108


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

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 person.

10:00   "Physics of Nuclear Weapons"

Invited Speaker: Lynn Cominsky, SSU, lynn.cominsky@sonoma.edu

Professor Cominsky will explain the basic physical principles leading to the design, manufacture and deployment of fission and fusion nuclear weapons. She will also describe the physical effects produced by these weapons, and will discuss the sizes and locations of existing weapons.

Ms Cominsky's Powerpoint presentation is online and you can find it at this link: http://glast.sonoma.edu/~lynnc/presentations.html

12:00 - 1:30   LUNCH:

Ameci's pizza and soft drinks will be catered in the Darwin Hall lobby. Please pay $5 cash at registration before 10 a.m.

Tours of new Cerent Labs in Salazar Hall.

1:30   Raffle/Business Meeting Darwin Hall, Room 108

2:00   "More Than You Wanted to Know About High School Physics Standards"

Dean Baird, Rio Americano High School, dean@phyz.org

Do you know what the State of California wants you to teach? What the difference is between Content Standards and "Opportunity to Learn" Standards? How about the difference between Science Standards and the Science Framework? Do you know how your students are being tested on Physics Standards and how their performance impacts your school's Academic Performance Index? And what happened to the Physics Golden State Exam? If you're feeling bewildered by any of this, I hope to provide some measure of enlightenment.

Contributed Papers

Session A: Darwin Hall, Room 108

Session B: Darwin Hall, Room 2

2:30   "Bernoulli in Principle: Is fluid pressure really lower in moving fluids?"

Evan Jones, Sierra College, Emeritus

A teacher blows between two suspended balloons; they come together. The myth persists that the pressure of a free stream fluid is thereby shown to be lower than the pressure of the surrounding stationary fluid. Using commonly performed experiments and purported "theory", I will show how many assertions about Bernoulli's principle are not correct. The common mis-application of the Bernoulli principle in free stream cases will be demonstrated.

2:30   "Inter-Nuclear Potential Energy Graphs - Beyond Balancing Reaction Equations and Calculating Mass Defects in Analyzing Fusion, Fission, and Alpha Decay Processes"

Patrick M. Len, Cosumnes River College

Many textbooks provide only a cursory approach to analyzing nuclear processes, primarily based on balancing reaction equations and calculating mass defects. Inter-nuclear potential energy graphs can incorporate these simple fundamental concepts as well as more complex effects to describe fusion, fission, and alpha decay in more detail.

2:50   "Lessons from Chernobyl"

Charles Hunt, American River College

Seventeen years after the world's worst nuclear power plant accident; what actually happened, what were the short and long term effects, and what did the accident teach us about the safety of nuclear power?

2:50   "F = ma and E&M using Python/VPython"

Matthew Moelter, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Electric and magnetic fields and their associated phenomena are some of the most challenging concepts in the introductory sequence. We discuss how the Python language and the VPython module combine to make a powerful tool for creating three-dimensional visualizations of fields and phenomena in electromagnetism. Some typical fields and the motion of a charge near a fixed dipole will be presented.

3:10   "Teacher Research and Cosmic Rays"

Andria Erzberger, LBNL

High school teachers participate in particle physics research at universities and labs through NSF- and DOE-funded QuarkNet. Many of these teachers take high energy physics to their classrooms by using cosmic ray detectors. A portable cosmic ray detector and some experiments will be demonstrated.

3:10   "Springs, Series, and Slinkies"

Bryan Cooley, Epistemological Engineering

After a brief exploration of tension springs, alone and in series, we will move onto the question of the length of a hanging slinky - a tension spring with non-negligible mass. I will predict and apply mathematical models to fit data taken from a hanging slinky.

3:30   "Strategies in Web-Based Homework Assignments"

John Walkup, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Web-based homework services greatly automate the assigning and grading of homework, reducing academic workload for introductory courses. The homework service provided by the University of Texas (https://hw.utexas.edu/hw.html) that is not only easy to use and administrate, but also provides sophisticated feedback to help instructors isolate student difficulties and is free. I will discuss how to harvest the benefits and overcome the shortcomings of online homework services.

3:30   "How Big is a Photon"

Phil Gash, Cal State, Chico

 While dissertating about light, photons, quanta and energy packets during a lecture, a student asked me just how big are photons ? I didn't know. This simple question stimulated me to re-think the basic properties of photons. Its minimum length depends upon the photon's wavelength and bandwidth. IR, optical, ultraviolet, x-ray and nuclear photons will be discussed.

3:50   "Physics Issues in Homeland Security"

Xavier K. Maruyama, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey

We are bombarded with concerns about Homeland Security. Discussion on airport security, parking perimeters, duct tape, etc. dominate the 10 o'clock news. The average reader gains very little knowledge from either popular press or technical accounts. The gap to be filled by physics instructors is to provide sufficient technical grasp so that basic physics bridges the chasm between the superficial and detail overload. Physics and chemistry issues related to explosive detection, e.g. metal detectors, x-rays, vapor analysis, neutron based techniques, will be presented.


Lynn Cominsky and Sarah Silva Sonoma State University Education and Public Outreach Group
lynn.cominsky@sonoma.edu and sarah@universe.sonoma.edu

 The Education and Public Outreach (EPO) group at Sonoma State University (SSU) will present two separate activities designed to capture the excitement of this mission and use it to engage students in learning math and science: "Far Out Math!" (developed by the TOPS Learning Systems) and "Active Galaxies", a set of activities designed by the SSU EPO group. Both activities are for grades 9-12, and conform to national science and math standards. Participants will receive free NASA materials.

4:10   "The Physics of Cell Polarization"

David Blackman, UC Berkeley, retired

Two currents dominate cell polarization. First, the passive current is governed by the Hamiltonian of the partition function. The second, the active transport is governed by the thermodynamics of the sodium pump. The physics of these two systems will be compared. Some very simple assumptions underpin this treatment: passive current is similar to a capacitive discharge; the change in membrane potential is proportional to the signal observed externally.

4:10   "Space Mysteries: Starmarket"

Philip Plait and Tim Graves, Education and Public Outreach Group, SSU
phil@universe.sonoma.edu and gravest@universe.sonoma.edu

 "Your web-based investigation, Space Sleuth, will involve interviews with real scientists, real data from various NASA observatories, and will test your abilities to plot and analyze data. Along the way you'll be doing science by inquiry, build up standards-based knowledge, and even have some fun. Other mysteries await you as well; one involves decoding what might be alien signals arriving from space, and another about helping Ace Reporter Parnell escape disaster on the planet 2-Alpha."


4:30   "Unmasking Data: Finding Hidden Phenomena in the Numbers"

Tim Erickson, Epistemological Engineering

I use several data analysis tools, especially residual plots, to see structure in data that, at first glance, is not apparent. We'll apply mathematical models to data, discover where the models work, and analyze how models can go wrong. Data include splits from sprints, heating and cooling, falling balloons, and more.


*fee is waived for first-time attendees and students! The rest of us pay only $10. A bargain at twice the price!


Directions and Parking at Sonoma State University

Consult the campus map (http://www.sonoma.edu/university/maps/start.html) for parking areas. Parking is free after 5 PM on Friday and all-day Saturday. Parking in any nonreserved space before 5 PM Friday is $2.50.


Rohnert Park is the closest city to SSU. We suggest that you go online at http://www.sterba.com/rp/cc/accommodations.html for more information.


Dues and Don'ts
Section dues are $10 per year, due each Fall. If you cannot attend the meeting, remain an active member which will ensure you'll receive all our mailings by sending dues to our treasurer Dennis Buckley, Liberty High School, 850 Second St., Brentwood, CA 94513. The registration fee for the Fall meeting is $10, payable at the door. First-timers are free!


Upcoming Events
Summer Meeting, AAPT, August, 2-6, 2003, Madison, WI
For more information, check it out online at: www.aapt.org

• Fall Meeting, NCNAAPT, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, joint meeting with APS, November 13-14, 2003. This is a joint meeting with APS!


Updated 3/29/03