Our spring 2011 Spring Conference has two components:
Friday Evening Social
April 22: San Mateo High School
- Hot Dog Reception
- Tour of new biotech wing
- “My Favorite Movie Clips” presented by Adam Weiner and Paul Robinson
More details below
April 23: Exploratorium, San Francisco
- Show and Tell
- Invited speaker, Adam Weiner: “Don’t Try This at Home! The Physics of Hollywood Movies”
- Brief business meeting
- “A Physics Teachers’ Guided Tour of the Exploratorium” by Paul Doherty
- Contributed presentations
More details below.
Program details: Friday evening
Friday evening social: Come join us and have a complimentary hot dog and brew or two and get in the mood for some yummy physics. Our invited speaker for Saturday’s meeting Adam Weiner and our host Paul Robinson will present a teaser on the Physics of Hollywood Movies at 7:30 PM. Program will also include a tour of the brand-spanking new Biotech Wing by biotech goddess Ellyn Daugherty, so bring your biotech/biology-teacher buddies along!
- 6:30 PM Hot Dog Reception
- Tour of the New Biotech Wing
- 7:30 PM Program: “My Favorite Movie Clips” Adam Weiner and Paul Robinson
Map and directions to San Mateo High School, 506 N. Delaware St, San Mateo, CA (just blocks off Highway 101)
Program details: Saturday Mini-Conference
McBean Theatre, Exploratorium
- 7:45 Registration, Coffee, Donuts, and other culinary delights.
- 8:55 Welcome and Announcements
- 9:00 Show and 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 or you risk the dreaded GONG!
- 10:00 “Don’t Try This at Home! The Physics of Hollywood Movies”
- Invited speaker: Adam Weiner; The Bishop’s School, La Jolla, CA
- Action and science fiction movies are filled with sequences that beg to be deconstructed using principles of physics. While many of these scenes can be completely ludicrously impossible, others may be plausible, (and more rarely you might even see a physically realistic action scene up there on the big screen). The beauty of this is that it doesn’t so much matter whether the action is accurate or not because these scenes are still fuel for an interesting, sometimes fascinating, often thought provoking physics analysis and discussion.
In particular I have found that using scenes from Hollywood movies as a way to teach physics concepts in the classroom has proven itself to be an engaging, effective and popular way to learn and solidify principles of physics. When you ask a student to find the speed of a block at the bottom of an inclined plane the excitement factor is not quite so high as when calculating Batman’s speed just before he slides off the end of an icy mountain slope! In this presentation we will slice up scenes from a variety of Hollywood genres including action, superhero, and science fiction classics from the “physics perspective” and show how you can bring “movie physics” to your students in the classroom.
11:30 Lunch and Book Signing
- 12:30 Business Meeting
- 1:00 “A Physics Teachers’ Guided Tour of the Exploratorium” by Paul Doherty
- Exploratorium guru Paul Doherty will give us a behind the scenes guided tour including a rare demonstration of his 24-ft long 6-inch diameter whirly and the sound column—with the specially tuned xylophone inside one of the legs of the dome! This may be our last meeting ever held at this magnificent and historic site of the Exploratorium—don’t miss it!
- 3:00 “Teaching Strategies for Conceptual Physics for Freshman” by Bree Barnett Dreyfuss and Jon Brix, Amador Valley High School, Pleasanton, CA
- A growing number of schools are offering a Physics curriculum to freshmen and it is often a struggle for veteran teachers. I have been using Paul Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics program for four years now and have found several adaptations that help me teach these younger students. Several strategies can be applied to older students or other subjects. Come hear about several classroom management and pedagogy strategies I use that help freshmen succeed in Physics!
- 3:20 “Developing Some of the Skills and Values Needed for Success in Introductory Physics” by Jeff Phillips, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA
- I will describe some of the factors that correlate with number of the concepts, which were not already known at the beginning of the course, are learned, i.e. normalized gain. Students’ previous knowledge, skills and values all impact their ability to learn physics. In the research done at Loyola Marymount University we have seen that some students essentially learn no new concepts because of their shortcomings. To assist these students we, and others, are developing materials that help students develop the necessary skills and values. I will present some of the instructional materials and findings from the Thinking in Physics project.
- 3:40 “The Law of Refraction in the Tenth Century” by Duygu Demirlioglu, Holy Names University, Oakland, CA
- Consider a standard problem: given a light ray, incident in some direction on the flat interface between two transparent media, find the direction of the refracted ray. A straightforward and quite trivial application of Snell’s Law yields the solution. Suppose, however, that you are living a thousand years ago. All you have is a ruler—no protractor, no calculator, and no table of sines. A geometric law of refraction—found in the tenth century but largely unknown in the West—will be presented. This approach suffices to solve all the refraction problems (such as critical angle, apparent depth, and lensmaker’s formula) encountered in any physics textbook. It requires hands-on drawing, but no knowledge of trigonometry, or even much geometry; it allows students to understand the physics with very little mathematics.
- 4:00 “Chasing Shadows: NASA’s Kepler Mission” Edna DeVore, SETI Institute, Mountain View, CA
- An updated version of “Transit Tracks” activity where students interpret light curves to determine the period and the size of the transiting planet will be presented.
All Saturday events are at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon St, San Francisco. Plenty of free parking.
First timers and students are always free! Other NCN AAPT members pay $20 (includes lunch ticket). Lunch tickets for first timers and students are available for $10.
We will have “Proof of attendance letters documenting attendance for any teacher who needs one for their district/professional development purposes.
Registering online is not necessary, but will help us know how many people to expect: [Event_Registration_Single event_id="7"]
Dues and Dont’s
Section dues are $25 per academic year, due each Fall. If you cannot attend a meetint, remain an ative member (and ensuring you’ll receive all our mailings) by sending dues to our treasurer, Denis Buckley, PO Box 735, Brentwood, CA 94513-0735
Other upcoming events
- AAPT National Summer Meeting, Omaha, NE: July 30-Aug 3, 2011
- Fall Meeting of CSTA, Pasadena, October 21-23, 2011
- AAPT National Winter Meeting, Ontario, CA, Feb 4-8, 2012