Category: PTSOS

Registration is now open for fall 2014 meeting/conference at SF City College

ISEE-3 Reboot Project logoOur next meeting will be at the City College of San Francisco this November. There will be a social event on the night of the 14th followed by a full day on Saturday the 15th. Our keynote speaker will be Dennis Wingo of the ISEE-3 Reboot Team, a group of space enthusiasts who are attempting (with good progress) to revive a NASA space probe launched in 1978.

Details for our Friday events will be posted by early September.

Registration for Saturday is now open here.

Call for presentations/papers will open soon. Read more »

Registration for August PTSOS Now Open!

The next PTSOS meeting will be on August 23 at Los Gatos High School from 9 to 4.

Our format is informal, flexible, and friendly. We like to think that everyone leaves the workshop with something they can use right away in their classrooms. Most of the teachers who attend teach regular high-school physics, but we also see many AP Physics teachers, college physics teachers, junior-high physical-science teachers, and even math, chemistry, and biology teachers.

Thanks to our generous benefactors (especially the Karl Brown family), the workshop is free, including a free, onsite lunch and coffee and doughnuts. Read more »

Forces and Interactions: NGSS for Physics and Physical Science Teachers

This is not exactly in our backyard, but worth two weeks if  you can make it.

June 16-27, 2014        M-F         9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

The Physics department at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and the American Association of Physics Teachers’ PTRA program have provided in service teachers with high quality, in depth, and useful educational experiences for nearly 30 years.  Read more »

Program for November 15-16 2013 conference at Carondelet HS

The program for our Fall 2013 section conference is now available in PDF format. We should have a web page version up shortly, but here’s the PDF  in the mean-time.

Map of locations:


View NCN AAPT at Carondelet High School in a larger map with key to locations.

Don’t forget, registration is encouraged (helps us plan for how many will attend), but not mandatory. Register here.

Save the Date: November 15-16 NCN AAPT mini-conference

We have firmed up a date for our Section’s fall meeting/conference.

The main event is Saturday, November 16, 2013, at Carondelet High School in Concord, CA. Friday evening we will have some sort of event and social (details to be worked out).

Nearby lodging is available for our distant members, there is plenty of free parking, and Carondelet can be accessed by public transit.

Watch here for more details, including how to sign up to give a presentation! We hope to announce this no later than early September.

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.

Spring Section Conference at Foothill College: April 26-27, 2013

Join us at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA (just 16 miles NW of San Jose, 40 miles south of San Francisco) for the spring conference of the Northern California/Nevada Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Starting with a social and physics show, and observatory tour Friday evening, followed by a full day of physics education speakers and workshops on Saturday.

Foothill entrance

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Next Generation Science Standards, second draft version

The second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards have come and gone (comment period was in January 2013). The January 2013 draft version has been removed from the official website, but you can still find it here.

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Physics of Baseball

David KaganDavid 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.

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.

Story Telling in Physics

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.

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