Category: NCNAAPT meetings & news

Keynote Speaker: Douglas Stone

Einstein’s scientific image was systematically distorted for historical reasons (not discussed here) however Einstein spent much more time on quantum theory than anything else (including relativity). Stone discovered and wrote an article on some of Einstein’s early and extremely lucid explanations of the problem with quantizing chaos. The article appeared in 2005 during the World Year of Physics and resulted in many speaking engagements which sparked Stone’s intensive research into Einstein’s life and works. Most of the available literature on Einstein’s research was too technical for the general public so Stone wrote his own.

We were treated to various entertaining stories of Einstein as a very difficult student. Einstein’s letters to his wife gave great insight into his life at the time. Once married there was no need to write except to a friend of his that announced his work in his “Miracle Year.” Stone continued to share experimental trial and tribulations of several scientists that led us to the current Quantum Theory. Stone includes private notes, excerpts from letter, images and insights to take us through the history of the development of the theory. He discussed the limits modern researchers still face, namely that the act of measurement continues to affect their results. Stone’s book “Einstein and the Quantum: The Quest of the Valiant Swabian” is available for purchase.

Business Meeting & Elections

Discussion of proposed new dues structure by President David Marasco

Motion made by Don Rathjen, seconded by Hookama, to accept the proposed dues structure.

Approved by voice

Section Rep report by Webmaster Lee Trampleasure

Lee shared the future locations and dates of the biannual AAPT meetings. Lee asked for help with the website and the eventual transfer of the Amusement Park Physics website for the Physics Day at the local Great America.

Treasurer report by Dennis Buckley

Beginning Balance


Dues, Registration, Lunches







New checks


Exploratorium fees




CA Registry of Charitible Trusts


Tax Prep


Balance as of 4/12/14



All officers are re-elected by Acclamation

President – David Marasco

Past President – Tom Woosnam

Program Chair – David Marasco

VP Colleges & Universities – Frank Cascarano

VP High Schools – Leann Felardo

Historian – Paul Robinson

Secretary – Bree Barnett Dreyfuss

Treasurer – Dennis Buckley

Webmaster – Lee Trampleasure

Photo gallery from Exploratorium April 12, 2014

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Group Photo Exploratorium April 12, 2014

NCNAAPT Group photo

Click on photo for a printable version.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Pascal Lee

Dr. Lee gave us information about the plans for the first human mission to Mars. He gave a background of the surface temperatures, pressures and topography all of which present unique difficulties to a human mission. Lee shared the mission goals and results from each of the successful rover missions. He was able to share several images from the Mars missions to discuss the difference in terrain, air quality and the sky. The sky on Mars is only blue at sunrise and sunset as the sky clears of dust. Conjuction vs Opposition timing plans each have their benefits and drawbacks to the amount of time in space and the amount of time spent on the surface of Mars. There are private endeavors including the Inspiration Mars program. Lee is more interested in whether or not Mars has alien life, as in different from our own, more than if there is life on Mars. He advocates the continued exploration and study of Mars and hopefully an eventual human mission to Mars. Lee believes that NASA plans and achievements will help increase science education and the number of students that graduate with upper level degrees in Science. A similar trend was seen after the Apollo missions in the 1960’s.

Lee gave us a preview of some of the illustrations for his book Mission: Mars and discussed what astronauts can expect upon landing. The effect on the human body is severe for the length of time that would be necessary for a human trip to Mars. It takes approximately as long to recover from time in microgravity as you spent in microgravity. Astronauts are exposed to radiation exposure, experience bone decalcification, muscle atropy, intracranial pressure and their isolation can leave to immunodeficiency. Men seem to be more effected by intracranial pressure and negative effects on their eyesight than women. Lee proposes a radiation shelter made of lead on the spacecraft to Mars in case of solar particle events like solar flares. Day-to-day radiation protection can be made by careful planning, water bags and food containers should be around the exterior wall of the space craft in order to take advantage of Hydrogen’s blocking ability.

Lee is on the Haughton-Mars Project, which continues to explore the Haughton Crater on Devon Island  in the Artic as a Mars surface analog. The topography and geography of Mars and Devon Island are very similar and their studies there help to determine home Mars surface features came to be. Lee does not believe that the water features on Mars were not made by warm water in the past. There is more information on his website here about his work, publications and more.

Key Note Speakers: Dave & Christine Vernier

Dave and Christine shared their roots in teaching and the inspiration for and gradual start of their company. The Verniers began writing software for Physics teachers years ago and eventually partnered with Pasco to write their software. Both companies grew and eventually Vernier began creating their own part kits. Vernier partnered with Texas Instruments to create software for their CBL calculator program and eventually created their own interfaces. The Verniers also shared stories and information about their company, employees and plans for growth. They also shared new sensors, program updates, etc. coming soon.

Dave is also experimenting with the Arduino systems. More information about their endeavors are here on their website. He demonstrated a program using a motion detector that allows a laser pointer to move based on the motion of a hand above the motion detector. The program should be available on their website.

Share ‘n Tell Spring meeting

Below are notes (pictures are available here) of those that shared this morning. Any additions or corrections can be emailed to

John Boyu, iFly

John shared the iFly website for educators and discussed the field trip opportunities. There is a Teacher open house on May 27th for teachers.


Alan Gould, UC Berkeley

Alan shared a model of Kepler Spacecraft and system using a Vernier light sensor called a Kepler Orerry. Alan is offering a few models of the Kepler system for the raffle. Students will be able to register dips in the light intensity when the planets pass between the “sun” and the light sensor. [link to his paper to come]


Don Rathjen, Exploratorium Teacher Institute

Don shared the Hyperbolic Slot snack and discussed different resources that the Exploratorium Teachers Institute offers. There have been several publications including the Exploratorium Snackbook and Square Wheels. Don has many, many materials available on his webpage under Activities.


Bree Barnett Dreyfuss, Amador Valley High School

Bree shared a distracted driving awareness Common Core and NGSS aligned learning activity. All articles and handouts are available on her website under today’s date.


Dan Burns, Los Gatos High School

Dan shared his experiences using a GoPro Camera in his classroom. Dan shared sample videos including demonstrating centripetal motion, refraction and conservation of motion. He hopes to share the videos on his website here. Click on the GoPro.pptx and GoproDemo.mp4 links to download. He has enabled the wi-fi capabilities of his camera using an app and plans to continue to experiment with live streaming the camera while in the classroom.  Dan found this “Tip #6 GoPro” video was the most helpful. He can use it to demonstrate another viewpoint of phenomenon in his classroom.


Dean Baird, Rio Americano High School

Dean shared his string machine based on this Exploratorium Snack and how he adapted it this year using a Genecon hand crank generator. Rather than adjusting a potentiometer Dean is able to crank the Genecon and adjust his speed to produce standing waves. (video to come)


Bernard Cleyet, retired

Bernard shared how he determined the delay of coax cable using a pulse and an oscilloscope. He shared his experimental apparatus that will pulse and then again with a reflection.


Peng Yav, Ann Subrant High ScChool and IISME

Peng shared IISME’s summer program and encouraged Physics teachers to apply this year to fill a large need for Physics teachers. Teachers are compensated and more information is available here.

Peng also showed a paper rocket made of a tea bag that he shows students during Thermodynamics. An empty tea bag that is ignited will rise on its own convection currents.


Ron Q, Rallston Middle School

Ron asked students to find an object that weighs about 1Newton and found that the easiest thing to find is an average apple. He also asks students to hold themselves up on their lab tables by placing their two hands on the table. The force they feel in their palms is equal to their normal force. He discusses the air pressure on Earth (14 lbs per square inch) and has students start clapping one row at a time to demonstrate its increase.


Pablo Robinson, Retired, RockStar Science

Pablo shared that Lick Observatory faces closure in a few years unless it raises more money because of UC budget cuts. Alex Fillippenko of UC Berkeley is advocating for fundraising for the Save Lick campaign.

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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Come to Our Spring Meeting! April 11 & 12, 2014

Registration is now open here. We encourage advanced registration; you can now pay online (including membership dues if you own them). With our new registration system, you can add one to three events to your “cart,” then check out in one step (yes, you need to add the free events in order to register for them–we need to know how many are coming).

We are polishing the details on our upcoming April Meeting.  We will have events on Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th.  Friday will see a workshop by the two biggest names in the business plus a hotdog social, and Saturday will feature top-notch speakers David & Christine Vernier, Pascal Lee and Douglas Stone, all at the brand-new Exploratorium! Read more »

Fall 2013 Group Photo

Click on the photo to see it full size.Group photo, Fall 2013

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