Sunday, October 19, 2014

Captain Disillusion - Viral Videos

Captain Disillusion gets his Cosmos (NdT version) on, with nice references to his previous Tumba debunk, outlawed magnetic Buckyballs, and magnet boys.

Captain Disillusion - Viral Comets Truck Saves Plane

"The Laws of Attraction" — A new PhET sim-based lab

This activity is a fairly deep exploration of the elements of Newton's Universal Gravitation. In the "Gravity Force Lab" sim, the force between two masses is displayed. Both masses can be changed, as can the distance between them. Mathematical patterns are developed and cobbled together until the full universal gravitation proportionality is constructed.

My lab activity, "The Laws of Attraction" can be found here.

PhET's "Gravity Force Lab" sim can be found here.

Here's the sim as it can be embedded:

Gravity Force Lab
Click to Run

Conceptual Physics PhET Tech Labs

The webpage that organizes my PhET sim-based labs had been updated significantly.

There are now 15 Conceptual Physics Tech Labs that employ PhET simulations. Check them out:

Phyz PhET Labs

The sim-based Tech Labs run the gamut from Mechanics through Atomic and Nuclear Physics.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Circuit Scribe

Sometimes something floats up through the Facebook feed that is fairly groovy, and I ponder, "Why didn't I already know about this?"

For example, Circuit Scribe. I've seen conductive-ink pens before, but it seems you needed special pepper. Circuit Scribe needs proprietary components, but still appears promising.

And it looks like they met their Kickstarter goal so I hope to see these things in the world sometime soon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New AP Physics 2 resources on fluids in The Book of Phyz

The Book of Phyz page on fluids has been up for some time:

Book of Phyz: Fluids

Two new "phyzjobs" have been added: "Liquid Pressure" and "Buoyancy Overflow."

And there are fresh links to the full pages for two fluid PhET sims:



I've posted labs to those PhET pages.

Pool Cubes - Density and
Pool Cubes: Buoyancy 

The blogging may run light this year while I try to get AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 launched at Rio Americano. Apologies.

Monday, September 01, 2014

The Book of Phyz online reorganization and upcoming changes

With NGSS, AP Physics 1, and AP Physics 2 coming online, our physics course offerings at Rio Americano are changing. The Book of Phyz is being reorganized to match Rio's courses.

If you're an instructor who's found The Book of Phyz materials to be helpful, they're all still there.

Please start at, then proceed to the curriculum materials via the "Physics," "AP Physics 1," or "AP Physics 2" links.

The documents are organized so that I can make them easily accessible to my currently-enrolled students. That was the point of posting them to in the first place.

I'm planning to phase out the posting of the lab handouts that have been published in Paul Hewitt/Pearson's various Conceptual Physics, Conceptual Physical Science, and Conceptual Integrated Science lab manuals.

The best collection of my labs is the newly published Conceptual Physics 12th edition Hewitt/Baird lab manual, discussed in this post. Hewitt's 12th edition of the college book is the best yet, and the lab manual aligns to it quite nicely. If we were adopting textbooks this year, I would adopt Hewitt's CP12 with the more durable high school (NASTA) binding.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How the Sun Sees You

I found this video to be totally captivating. The message is an important one. But the soundtrack is also nice. And then… how did they record this? See for yourself.

I love the "Oh My God!" moments. The appearance of the sunscreen didn't surprise me. We try to incorporate the opacity of sunscreen in our ExploratoRio Purple Haze exhibit. What I came away really wanting to know was… how can I set up a similar rig to capture live video in UV? Cameras with glass optics and glass filters and glass over their sensors are well protected against ultraviolet light.

The Exploratorium's Paul Doherty shared this informative Photonics article.

Ultraviolet Reflectance Imaging

The article mentions fused silica optics. Paul recalled grinding sodium chloride lenses for use in UV imaging. Fused silica and salt lenses? My ignorance is so vast, sometimes it hurts.

Here's a video tutorial on getting a DSLR modified and configured to shoot in the UV range. It's, well, a nontrivial affair.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Planning the year: NGSS, AP1, and AP2 - Part 1: The broad strokes

My assignment for the 2014-15 academic year includes Physics, AP Physics 1, and AP Physics 2. The Physics course should be aligned to Next Generation Science Standards. Our students are years from facing NGSS assessments; right now school officials of nearly every stripe are focused on Common Core State Standards nearly to the exclusion of any other academic concern.

Last year marked my first attempt to let go of the past decade+ focus on California's now-abandoned academic content standards in physics.

Advanced Placement Physics 1 and Advanced Placement Physics 2 debut this year, and Rio has enrollments in both. Now that AP Physics B is dead and gone, The College Board is laying the AP1 and AP2 cards on the table. My friend, Chicagoland physics teacher extraordinaire, Martha Lietz, pointed me to her AP Physics resource page. And I have been poking around in the links!

This post will give a general direction of how I plan to implement the three courses at my school.

Physics remains a first-year course with an Algebra 1 prerequisite. It needs to fulfill the needs of NGSS as well as provide a suitable foundation for students who might elect to move onto AP Physics 2. It is not feasible to allow Rio's pipeline to AP2 be restricted exclusively to AP1 "alumni".

AP Physics 1 is a first-year course for highly-motivated students who have passed Algebra 2. It must cover the AP Physics 1 syllabus provided by the College Board. But it must also cover the expectations of NGSS.

AP Physics 2 is a second-year course for highly-motivated students who have passed Algebra 2 and a first-year physics course (Physics or AP Physics 1). It must cover the AP Physics 2 syllabus provided by The College Board.

In any case, here's my plan so far. Click to embiggen. Subject to change!

And yes, I'm willing to try the current fashion of energy before momentum. Wide ties/narrow ties. It seems that among the cognizanti, teaching momentum before energy is on par with wearing a wristwatch or typing two spaces after a period as far as age indicators go. I know there are strongly-held beliefs, arguments, and preferences here. Sometimes I think we get too exercised about such things.