Category: Teaching equipment

App Share-a-thon from AAPT in Minneapolis

apps presented at Share-a-thon

The following links are in the order they were presented.

Error Calc screenshot

Error Calc screenshot from an iPhone

  • Tom Huber. Personal iPhone app; ErrorCalc website
  • Frequency Meter Pro; Analyzes frequency of sounds ($1.99 iOS, $3.66 Android)
  • Decibal 10th (decibal meter) (Free)
  • Ripple Tank (Free and $5.99 versions)
  • Sensor Log; accesses and displays all iPhone/pad sensors; can record data as .csv that can easily be analyzed in a spreadsheet. App allows for higher frequency than device actually collects, so be careful that you’re not collecting “junk” between phone collections. (iOS and Android versions available) Read more »

You want tech in your classroom? We have both flavors…

Today’s workshop on technology and equipment combined the best educational tech/software/equipment companies, PASCO and Vernier. About twenty educators gathered at St. Ignatius High School in San Francisco to see the best of the new as well as some classic demonstrations.

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Accelerometers and Great America: Here’s your ‘permission slip’

Last year, after more than a decade of bringing students (and their accelerometers) to Great America, Phillip Becker of Saint Helena High School was shocked to be informed by park staff that students would not be allowed to bring their accelerometers on the rides. Disappointment ruled the day, but his students made the best of it. Upon returning to school, Mr. Becker typed out a to-the-point letter to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (the parent company for Great America), expressing his outrage at this change in policy. Shortly thereafter, Cedar Fair Entertainment replied, with a letter notifying him that there had been no change in policy, and apologizing for the mistake by the local park staff/management.

If you are planning on attending a Physics/Math day at Great America, you may want to print out a copy of the letter from Cedar Fair and carry it with you to the park, just in case this year’s staff/management makes a similar mistake.

Physics of Baseball

David KaganDavid Kagan, CSU Chico

All of David’s material related to the Physics of Baseball are available on his website:

David demonstrated the Physics of the Baseball bat including the progression of the baseball bat. He explained how to find the center of percussion of the baseball bat as well as the center of vibration.  The “sweet spot” of a bat is where the center of percussion and the center of vibration meet which means that the player will minimize the jarring force of the bat. David showed us many high speed videos from the playoffs that show the compression of a baseball bat being hit and the reaction of the bat after the impact. David demonstrated his rubber bat that has no internal support so that it can create a standing wave. By putting together that information, your students can choose the correction direction that the bat will swing and even guess where the baseball will break if it is outside or inside of the sweet spot.

Pablo showing off his collector baseballsPaul (Pablo) Robinson, San Mateo High School, retired

Pablo shared the physics of the splash hits in the San Francisco Giants Stadium. The ballpark has been designed for maximum home runs and the majority are hit to right field, where the ballpark meets the bay. He discussed the geometry of the park and where a home run is most likely hit.

He has more materials on the change in velocity of a ball hit on different planets, the Physics of a home run, etc. Visit his website for additional materials and videos.

Fall 2012 Conference Share ‘n Tell

Tom at Share n TellTom Woosnam, Crystal Springs

Tom showed us a conducting experiment (picture to come) with two cans and a two copper wires that do not touch and attach to a coup of water. After the cup of water is filled a small neon bulb that that is connected to one of the two copper wires can discharge repeatedly. Tom’s best guess as to why it flashes is that one of the metal cans becomes randomly charged, say negatively, and that negative charge travels up the conducting materials to the water and repels electrons through the other wire to the other side that builds up potential.


Dan Burns, Los Gatos High School

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Spring conference in South Lake Tahoe, April 21, 2012

Lake Tahoe CC LogoJoin us at Lake Tahoe Community College for a day of physics education.

Saturday, April 21st

All sessions are held in the Duke Theater, Room F111

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Physics Equipment Donation at Sacramento State

Sac State logoFrom Hossein Partovi at Sacramento State:

We have put aside a large collection of lab equipment (scopes, meters, supplies, light sources, PAACO interfacing devices, …) to give away to schools and colleges on Saturday, October 16, 2010 (in Room 138, Sequoia Building, i.e., first floor of the science building), 9-12 AM. You can preview them on Friday, October 8, 2010, 1-3 PM.

If interested, please

  1. Print the attached acceptance letter (a “WORD” document) on your official letterhead, have it signed by your school or college official, and bring it with you on October 16th, and
  2. RSVP both October 8th and 16th events to let us know that you are coming by responding to

Afternoon Sessions Schedule: Spring Meeting

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

(See complete Friday/Saturday agenda here)

Contributed Papers, Video Clips & computer Bits – room 307

2:00 iFly Indoor Skydiving –Field Trips – Cailin Creighton

A discussion of physics topics relating to skydiving, indoor skydiving, and the operation of vertical wind tunnels.  Also, information on how to bring your students on a field trip to a vertical wind tunnel for an educational program that includes experiments, a lecture, a tour, and flying!

2:20 Wind Energy: A Sustainable Future? – Scott Perry

Other than hydro-electric and nuclear power wind energy has been by far the most robust of what many are calling green-energy.  What are our prospects for moving to a more sustainable balance between human needs and the Earth’s resources?

2:40 Lunar Lander Project – Byron Philhour

Students in AP Physics learn Excel and simulate the Apollo missions to the moon over the course of a semester.

3:00 Not the Usual Coupled Oscillators – Bernard Cleyet

The Keynote shows pics of the app. and motion pics. (Video?) of the normal modes, etc.

3:20 Bree Barnett Dreyfuss

Using Class Facebook Fan Pages

Our students are often on the cutting edge of new communication technology while teachers may take a little longer to catch up. Don’t be left behind! Try using Facebook to communicate with students and share information away from school. Although class websites offer a breadth of information and resources not easily shared elsewhere, they are not interactive for students. Come learn how my Facebook Fan Page is used and how to set up your own!

Quick & Dirty (& Fun) Physics Demoes – room 306

2:00  Physics Magic – Chuck Hunt

Magic tricks to use in class.

2:20 Constant Velocity Cars – Lee Trampleasure

An intro lab from the Modeling curriculum, in this activity students measure the position of electric toy cars every couple seconds, then graph position vs time to discover velocity is change in position / change in time.

2:40 Modulated LED and Modulated Coil – Don Rathjen

The original versions are in the Square Wheels book co-authored by myself and Paul Doherty, published by the Exploratorium in 2002. I’ll  show “updated” versions using an iPod to replace a transistor radio in both demos, and an LED flashlight to replace an LED plus resistor in the Modulated LED

3:00 The Visible Speaker, Coupled Coils, Lamps & More – Stuart Loucks

Some surprising E&M demoes

3:20 – 4:00 As Many Demoes As We can Do In 40 Minutes – ARC Staff

Something for everyone!!!

April Astronomy Workshop for Teachers in Grades 3-12 (Free Telescope Included)

In the Footsteps of Galileo: A Hands-on Workshop on Astronomy for Teachers in Grades 3 ­ 12

Saturday, April 24, 2010, 9:00am ­ 4:30pm
Foothill College, Los Altos Hills, CA (see map at bottom of this post)
Presented by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP)

Workshop participants will explore:

  • The realms of astronomy, and our changing perception of the universe
  • Recent NASA moon missions (with information and activities about the Moon from the NASA Lunar Science Institute)
  • An introduction to Galileo, his life, work and legacy
  • Ideas about student reasoning about science and how to help students think like scientists
  • Recreating Galileo¹s observations of the moons of Jupiter and the phases of the Moon
  • The Galileoscope: a simple telescope with many uses
  • Classroom-ready astronomy resources for teachers & students
  • Where to find the best astronomy activities in print and on the web.

Presenters include:

  • Andrew Fraknoi (Chair of Astronomy Department, Foothill College and the 2007 California Professor of the Year)
  • Brad Bailey (Staff Scientist, NASA Lunar Science Institute)
  • Brian Day (Education and Public Outreach, NASA Lunar Science Institute)
  • Brian Kruse (Astronomical Society of the Pacific)


$15 for ASP members and Project ASTRO partners; $25 for everyone else. For more information, and to register, please go to:

For their registration fees, workshop participants will receive:

  • A Galileoscope (a high-quality, small telescope developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009; now retailing for $30)
  • A packet of hands-on activities, background information and resource guides ready for immediate use in the classroom
  • NASA lunar science resources
  • Lunch provided

No background in astronomy is required; both new and veteran teachers will learn new ideas and techniques from the workshop. Registration is limited; reservations will be accepted in the order received.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, founded in 1889, is dedicated to sharing the excitement of our exploration of the universe with teachers, students, enthusiasts and the public.  It is the largest and most active astronomy education organization in the world.

View NCNAAPT meeting locations in a larger map

NCN AAPT Spring Meeting / Mini Conference

Friday & Saturday April 16th & 17th, 2010

American River College

Sacramento, CA (see map below)
Local Host: Chuck Hunt: email:

Sign up to present

Call for Presentations

We solicit presentations of 15 minutes in length. Suitable topics include teaching ideas, research projects, laboratory techniques, novel demonstrations, computers and instruction. Please send an abstract of your talk, with title, your name and affiliation, AV and equipment requests, and other requirements to the Program Chairman, Paul Robinson, preferably by email at Deadline for submission is Friday, March 5, 2010.

Call for Demonstrations

Bring your favorite 5-minute demonstration for the popular “Show ‘n’ Tell”. Handouts describing your demonstration are encouraged. Likewise, giving contributed papers as Show ‘N Tells is specifically discouraged. Offenders will be gonged! Sign ups are day of the event, first come, first served (although it seems those who signs up always gets to present!). Do you have a great resource you want to share but are nervous about presenting to your peers? Our Show ‘n’ Tell is low pressure and a great place to give your first presentation at a teaching conference!


Friday Evening Social

Plan on getting together Friday evening before the meeting. More details to follow in the program. We’ll also provide references for local lodging for Friday evening.

Saturday meeting/mini conference

Saturday starts at 8:00 with registration and socializing, and usually finishes 3:30/4:00. We have a brief business meeting around lunch time. Coffee/donuts is provided, and lunch is usually available for a reasonable price (reservations for lunch required). Exact details will be published once we have our speaker list set.

Other details

Dues and Don’ts

Section dues are $25 per year, due each Fall. If you cannot attend the meeting, remain an active member that 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 Spring meeting is $10, payable at the door. First-timers are free! And don’t forget PTSOS participants—your dues are already paid!

Physics Teacher SOS (PTSOS)

PTSOS is an NCN-AAPT-sponsored project, funded by a substantial donation, allowing AAPT to deliver top quality help to physics teachers in their vulnerable first years of teaching. Workshops are now conducted in both San Mateo and Sacramento. Other veteran teachers are being signed up to help out small groups of local teachers through mentorships and also to help run workshops. Interested teachers are encouraged to visit the website ( and contact outreach coordinator Stephanie Finander at for more information.


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Other Upcoming AAPT Events

  • Winter AAPT Meeting, Washington DC, February 13-17, 2010
  • Summer Meeting, AAPT, Portland Oregon, July 17-21, 2010
  • Fall Meeting, NCN AAPT, 2010, not yet scheduled

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