Invited Talk: “Changes in the Teaching of Introductory Physics at Stanford” Chaya Nanavati or Stanford University
Chaya discussed the existing structure that has an instructor that leads lectures and has Head TAs, Discussion TAs and Lab TAs that assist the smaller groups. Often we encounter several barriers to change: Administration or Colleagues are often resistant to change and need convincing, materials and time are necessary for change. She suggests using the already developed resources from Maryland University, Harvard, CU Boulder, etc. on group work and student-centered learning. Eric Mazur has lots of resources and evidence that interactive engagement increases the post-test gain on the Force Concept Inventory test. Read more »
Further updates and links to come… If you have any corrections please let the secretary know.
Tom Woosnam , Crystal Springs Uplands School
Tom discussed the Perimeter Institute; more information is available here: Perimeter Institute Catalogue (1)
Don Rathjen, Exploratorium Read more »
David Kagan, CSU Chico
All of David’s material related to the Physics of Baseball are available on his website: Phys.csuchico.edu/baseball
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.
Paul (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.
Bree Barnett Dreyfuss, Amador Valley High School
Bree shared examples of story telling in her class room including:
- Using comics & pictures
- Using video clips
- Interpreting graphs & drawings
- Anecdotes and stories of scientists and discoveries
Bree worked with a colleague to develop curriculum surrounding the book The Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson. She shared curriculum materials from her unit that are available on her website here.
Tom 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
Read more »
The audience at Spring 2012
Mark Hurwitz, Fathom in the Physics Lab
Mark demonstrated how to use the Fathom program with Vernier probes to graph and analyze experimental data. The program allows students to quickly drag and drop meters, tables, graphs and more. Students can also manipulate graphs so that they can visually see the differences between their data analysis and what they expect to see. Mark’s students are able to use the program at home as well so that they can continue to analyze their information. Fathom only works with Vernier probes. Read more »
Election of officers:
David Marasco will continue as President, and will also absorb Program Chair
Dennis Buckley will continue as Treasurer and Membership Coordinator
Frank Cascarano will continue as VP Colleges/ Universities
Leanna Felardo will continue as VP of High Schools
Bree Barnett Dreyfuss will continue as Secretary
Lee Trampleasure will continue as Webmaster and will also be the Section Rep
Paul Robinson will continue as a Historian
Tom Woosnam will continue to provide insight as a Past President
Read more »
David Bennum, Recruiting Physics Majors from Grades 2-8, University of Navada, Reno
Keynot Speaker Spring 2012
There is little development of Physics curriculum in the lower grade levels and thus the population that could be interested in Physics is scared away. Dr. Bennum has created a “Physics on the Road” program that brings science into local schools to introduce young students to Physics. Dr. Bennum shared several pictures of his program over the years of students at assemblies and workshop with middle school and elementary school students. The program has reached up to 2,000 students in the K-8 programs each year. He continues to develop new activities and demonstrations for the program, including plans for building a Howler Trombone based on a Howler pipe design (link). Several buses have been donated over the years to bring students and equipment to the program. In recent years the project has also added some astronomy concepts and using telescopes. The hope is to expand the program to include college students from University of Nevada, Reno to accompanying the Dr. Bennum to the local schools. There are plans to have a large public viewing for the upcoming solar eclipse at the MacClean Observatory at Redfield Campus.
The Physics department at the University of Nevada, Reno is also developing an Astronomy Minor and Astrophysics Major. The hope is to create an option for students who are interested in Astronomy or are in a major that requires scientific literacy to take some classes. This has developed an off shoot program, ”Taking the Stars on the Road” to increase the local interest in Astronomy. The University has struggled with decreasing numbers in Physics and have adjusted the requirements for majors in order to decrease the “scare factor” and make it much more accessible.
Lee Trampleasure, Carondelet High School – deriving the kinematics equation experimentally
Handout available here.
Students use TI calculators to derive the kinematics equations. Students graph a linear position-time graph for different constant velocity cars. Student graph the data by hand and then uses linear regression to calculate the slope which will vary from student to student as their best fit lines differ. Students then plot a constant acceleration car and graph that data in their calculators. By taking various tangent lines students create a separate graph of the velocity-time for the car. Using the equation supplied by the calculator they begin to see the relationship between their y-intercept on the y=ax+b equation from the velocity-time graph matches the b in their equation for the position to time graph (x=at^2+bt+c).
David Talcott, Carlmont High School (c/o Bree) – Planck’s constant apparatus Read more »
As part of our support for high school Physics teachers we held a High School round table in the afternoon at our Fall meeting. The topics of (1) discipline, (2) level of curriculum, (3) grading/ paperwork and (4) making policy changes were discussed. Some material is available on each topic under Roundtable Resources. You can also download the High School Roundtable Notes from our discussion; if I left anything out please let me know by emailing BreeBarnett@hotmail.com.