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Quick Meeting Notes

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September 2012

posted Sep 19, 2012, 2:19 AM by Steve Dickie

We had the great pleasure of hosting Fred Goldberg at our first meeting this year. I managed to video tape the meeting and have posted it below. If you're mainly interested in Dr. Goldberg's talk it starts about 7 minutes into part 1. The video was broken into two parts due to technical difficulties. We only missed a couple of minutes of the question-answers.

Part 1

Part 2

November 1, 2011

posted Nov 3, 2011, 8:29 AM by Scott Brunner   [ updated Nov 3, 2011, 8:31 AM ]

Room 158 of the Mark Jefferson Science Complex, Eastern Michigan University
Thank you to Dr. Beth Kubitskey, Dr. Norbert Vance and the rest of the EMU faculty and students for hosting a great meeting and for the exciting tours!


Timer ball - press the button/drop it and it stops time when it impacts the ground. Centripetal force swinging mass with force measuring device. Both available from Arbor Scientific, if not yet, then maybe soon?

Flip car - the car hits a wall flips over and comes back. Good for the investigating the difference between distance and displacement.

Arrange three push-pull spring scales attached to each other in a row. Instruct student volunteers to pull with different forces at either end (impossible!). Ask them to pull with the same force, and then have another read the force on the scale in the middle. Good tension/3rd Law demo. http://www.arborsci.com/Products_Pages/Measurement/SpringScales.aspx

Colliding cars with identical springs attached to colliding surfaces of the cars changing the mass of the carts, showing spring deflection is the same (3rd Law).

A ball is dropped from a building. How can we figure out how far it has gone without using a kinematics displacement equation? Solution: graph the simple velocity vs. time (10 m/s/s) line graph and easily calculate area underneath. Great for students with math gaps.

Have students tie washers or other masses along a string so when the string is stretched vertically and dropped the masses impact the ground at a constant rate, evidenced by the sound of impact (space according to 5, 20, 45, 80).

Have students tie 5, 20, 45, 80 cm strings with masses at the end evenly spaced along a meter stick. They can then visualize trajectories with ease by manipulating the angle of the meter stick!

Vernier video analysis using Logger Pro software and/or Tracker (freeware built on the OSP java platform for teachers) are good tools for students to create and interpret graphs and analyze motion using video of real-life action. Video analysis also works quite well in concert with other Vernier data collection devices, like force sensors. Students can capture video with cell phones, digital cameras, or they can analyze footage you provide. An alternative to desktop computer use is the Vernier Video Physics app for iPhone and iPad. With the app you can take a video on your device and do a full video motion analysis with graphs. You then have the option to email the analysis and work with it on a computer.

Our next meeting is December 6th at Macomb ISD. Email updates coming.

A member, via email, expressed concern about the selection of Tuesdays for the meetings. It was mentioned with no real solution to the concern so far. Informal discussion revealed that the meeting days are varied year-by-year.

Planetarium Tour
The new EMU planetarium is in a suspended sphere four floors over the new atrium in the new Mark Jefferson Science Complex. It is a beautiful facility.

Observatory Tour
We got to see Jupiter through the apochromatic refractor telescope on top of historic Sherzer Hall on a nice clear night, as well as the moon through a Schmidt–Cassegrain on the roof.

April Meeting (brief)

posted Apr 21, 2010, 1:34 AM by Steve Dickie   [ updated Apr 21, 2010, 6:28 AM ]

This is just a quick re-cap of information from the April 20th meeting. We promised links and such, so I wanted to make sure they showed up. More detailed notes will be coming soon(ish).

David Cinabro - Spoke about his High School SuperNova search grant application. If you migh be interested in being one of the schools he works with if he gets the grant then you should send him an email. cinabro@physics.wayne.edu David's powerpoint is attached below as a pdf file.

Sloan Digital Sky Survey David also shared some cool links
  • SDSS Sky Server - Very accessible site, includes some projects for students/teachers
  • Galaxy Zoo - Actually participate in real science. Help classify actual galaxies
  • Google Sky - Much of the imagery Google used for this came from SDSS
Galileoscope Links

December Meeting

posted Jan 26, 2010, 2:35 AM by Steve Dickie

DMAPT Meeting – December 2, 2009, Oakland Christian School

Host: Bryan Crump

DMAPT members met at Oakland Christian School on Wednesday, December 2nd.  Bryan Crump was our host.  The meeting focused on labs and demos related to momentum/collisions. 

Member announcements:

·      Don Pata noted that the workshop on using inquiry in the classroom and generating productive class discussion presented by Nicole Murawski and Laura Ritter on December 1st was awesome!   Don recommended that all attend future workshops.

·      Jeff Conn gave an update on the planned Astronomy BA program at Wayne State and provided information brochures.  The program will offer research experience for undergraduates and will be the only one of its kind offered in Michigan.  Interest in the program has been very strong.  Students with a BA in Astronomy would likely pursue careers with NASA, or enter graduate astrophysics studies.   Per Jeff, the recently initiated Biomedical Physics program at Wayne State is also going very well and is quite popular with students.

·       Jeff Conn also reported that a new digital planetarium is coming to Wayne State. 

·      Jeff informed the DMAPT members that the people who were interested in participating in the Supernova Search project will be getting an email from Dave Cinabro detailing the next steps in the project.  The program is waiting funding.

·      Al Gibson reported that the Galileoscopes have been ordered.   It was agreed that these would be incorporated into our April meeting.

·      Jeff Conn noted that Saturday, December 6th, 2009, is Noel Night in downtown Detroit.  This is an annual family-oriented event showcasing several institutions.  Wayne State does a planetarium show.  All venues are free of charge. 

Upcoming calendar events:

·      Nicole Murawski and Steve Dickie will be presenting an all day workshop on video analysis.  Date and location have not been finalized, but it will be on a Saturday in the spring at either the Wayne County RESA or at Royal Oak High School.

·      Al Gibson and Laura Ritter are presenting “Quantum Physics and Dark Matter” at the MSTA conference.  They are also presenting a unit on two dimensional motion and circular motion.  Both presentations will be on Saturday, March 6, 2010.

·      The DMAPT make-and-take session (with the Galileoscopes) at the MSTA meeting is scheduled for Friday morning, March 5, 2010.  Volunteers are needed to help with the session. 

Member sharing:

·      Don Pata shared a demo that he uses for collisions.  He starts by telling his students that they are in a car and a collision with a tree is inevitable.  He asks them whether they prefer to bounce off the tree or stick to it.  Most students will choose to bounce off the tree.  Don then uses “happy and sad balls” (http://www.arborsci.com/SearchResult.aspx?KeyWords=happy%20sad%20balls) to simulate the bouncing and sticking collisions.  Don hangs each of the balls from strings attached to a ring stand.  He stands a section of a 2 x 4 (approximately 1 foot long) vertically just in front of the balls.  Don then pulls each ball back and releases it so it collides with the 2 x 4.

·      Don follows up by asking the students to explain why the bouncing collision is worse, knowing what they know about momentum.  He has the students estimate the velocity of the ball before the collision and calculate the Dv.  Don then brings them back to the car collision scenario to reconsider their original answer.

·      Don next displayed a fan cart with a plate “sail” on it and asked what will happen when the fan is switched on.   Don noted that the Pasco pamphlet explains that the air from the fan hits the sail and bounced off, creating a Dv and increased force.  Is this a good momentum demonstration like Pasco suggests?

Taken from the Pasco website (ftp://ftp.pasco.com/Support/Documents/English/ME/ME-9485/012-05307E.pdf) :  There is a force on the cart in one direction resulting from the fan pushing the air and there is another force on the cart in the opposite direction resulting from the air hitting the sail. See Figure 2. But when the air hits the sail, the air bounces off the sail, causing more force on the sail than the force of the air on the fan. Therefore, there is a net force on the cart that causes the cart to accelerate.”

·      Chris Deyo shared a lab that she uses to have students determine the coefficient of friction.  A variation of the lab would be to have the students collect data and then create a system that provides an acceleration of ____.  She uses old wooden collision carts for the lab.  The lab can be found on her website.   http://www.rochester.k12.mi.us/index.aspx?folder=23390

·      Chris also shared a practicum on unbalanced forces.  The students are given a protractor, scale and the coefficient of friction and must predict the time for the system to move one meter.  This lab is also available on Chris’s website above.

·      Stephanie Spencer shared a simple lab that combines friction, work & energy and momentum.  The students are given a box, a tennis ball, a spring scale, a meter stick and a balance.  The box has one end open and a strip of Velcro attached to the inside of the box opposite the open end.  She used fruit snack boxes that are about 5” x 7” x 12”.  The students are challenged to determine the coefficient of kinetic friction, the velocity at which the ball & box combination move and the initial velocity of the tennis ball.

·      Bryan Crump demonstrated how he has students experience torque, using a bicycle wheel and a platform.   He also uses the bicycle wheel to discuss motorcycle turns.  This led to a discussion on precession.  Don Pata will put a precession explanation on the DMAPT website.

·      Mark Davids shared how he introduces momentum to students.  He begins by asking students what they have heard on momentum.   Typically, examples from sports are mentioned.  He then tosses a golf ball to a student and has them toss it back.  He then does the same thing with a baseball.  Next, he asks the students if the balls had the same projectile path, would they expect them to have the same momentum.  He generates a list of what the students think momentum depends on, such as size, mass, weight.   He uses a nerf ball and a baseball of equal size to eliminate that option.  If velocity wasn’t mentioned for the list, he tosses a ball at different speeds so that kids pick up on velocity as important to momentum.  Now that the list is narrowed to mass and velocity, Mark proposes that they could be combined by adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing and leads discussion to arrive at multiplying.  He then has the class estimate the mass of golf ball (perhaps 40 grams) and a factor for the mass of baseball compared to mass of golf ball (perhaps 4 times).  He asks if the baseball and golf ball have the same velocity, could they the same momentum (only if zero velocity).

·      Mark continued with his “Off the Wall” lab.  The students are asked to consider a ball that is tossed, bounces off the wall, and is finally caught.  They are to identify three horizontal forces acting on the ball.   Next they are asked to explain how each force changes the sideways momentum of the ball.   Finally, they complete a table to rank change in velocity, change in momentum, Dt and force) for the throw, wall, and catch events of the toss.

·      For Mark’s final demo, he balanced a track on block. Two carts were set on the track above the balance point.  A loaded spring from the 0.5 kg cart is then sprung to push against the 1.0 kg cart.  Students are asked to predict what cart will move.  They are also asked to predict which end of the ramp will tip downward as the 1.0 kg cart moves to the right.  Finally, they are given force and Dt data and complete calculations for momentum and velocity for both carts 

Next meetings:

·      Our next meeting is tentatively planned for early February, 2010.

First Meeting - Oakland University 29 September

posted Oct 3, 2009, 8:35 AM by Steve Dickie   [ updated Oct 4, 2009, 6:52 PM ]

Roxanne Crabill is short of text books. If you have any examination copies of 2009 Holt Physics you're not using her students would thank you.

Laura Ritter, our president, opened with introductions and and a discussion of the summer AAPT meeting and then talked about Mark and Don's thoughts on starting a monthly meeting with newer physics teachers to help support them. When there's more information is available I'll pass it on.

Greg Scheffler was elected as our New VP. Thanks Greg for volunteering!

Dave Cinabro - Wayne State talked about the High School Super Nova Search. He introduced this project at a meeting last year. Right now he's been working to get an NSF grant to fund the project. Dave will send me more information for the web site. If you would like to be considered as a Super Nova search site please email Dave. About half of the super novas discovered are discovered by amateurs.

Our November meeting is currently planned to be held at De La Salle. There was a discussion of doing an optics theme with a telescope make and take. We'd probably get the Galilescope, a very high quality scope for only $20!

Chris Deyo headed up a curriculum writing workshop for physics, undertaken in Oakland Schools, based on the new Michigan standards. They produced a comprehensive 14 unit document. Each unit has at least six activities that can be done with students and everything is already aligned with the standards! You can find the document on the Oakland Schools Science Resource site (scroll down). Or here's the direct link to the pdf.

Brad Roth - Spoke about programs at Oakland University. The have a new program in medical physics that you might want to tell your students about. Lots of research happens at Oakland and undergrad students often get a chance to help out.

George Martins, from Oakland University, has a group of students who can present at high schools, complete with Nikola Tesla! They gave a fun presentation and demos they themselves came up with and put together. You should feel free to contact George if you're interested in learning what he and his students can do for your students.

AAPT Summer 2009 - Ann Arbor

posted Aug 30, 2009, 4:48 AM by Steve Dickie   [ updated Aug 30, 2009, 4:58 AM ]

The DMAPT had a very strong showing at the National Meeting las summer. We ran four sessions. I would summarize, but Mark did a great job of that already:
According to my wife, Kim, we had 98 participants come to our “make and take.” We also had about a dozen helpers from DMAPT and the MiAAPT that were not included in this count. We had “Advice to the New Physics Teacher” from Steve Rea and Jim Gell, “New Demos in E & M” from Steve Dickie and Mark Davids, “Discrepant Events” from Don Pata, and the “Make and Take” by a host of mentors. Our total audience for all events was 483 participants. That is pretty impressive since the total conference attendance was just over 1,000.

To add icing to the cake, Al Gibson was honored and presented with the Distinguished Service Award from the AAPT! From all accounts, we had a major, positive impact at the conference.

Thank you all,

Any handouts or links our session presenters had are available here. We also took lots of pictures. Some of them are available here.

Aprile 23rd Grosse Point South

posted Apr 24, 2009, 2:25 AM by Steve Dickie   [ updated Apr 24, 2009, 3:13 AM ]

Last night was another fun meeting. We started with a short presentation on Telematics by Mark and Don. Telematics deals with making "smart" cars. After the presentation we got to play with the remote controlled cars they use with their students. They ran us through a quick version of the constructivist labs they do with their students. It was great fun. We were trying to experimentally determine the max speed, acceleration while speeding up, acceleration while slowing down, and acceleration while turning. While doing these experiments we had to do the same trouble shooting the students would have to do. We also saw other factors we could test to bring in other physics concepts. It was really a great experience and makes me wonder how much a classroom set of these cars cost.

After the telematics demonstration we went to dinner. At dinner Georg Raithel told about the upcomming Physics Olympiad being held at the University of Michigan. Registration is free but the deadline is today (April 25th). If you don't manage to get registered in time email Georg there may still be a chance to get in.

Dave Barnes from Arbor Scientific was there showing off some of the new stuff they're considering for their catalog. Many of the demos centered around static electicity. You can see some of the stuff that was shown off it the latest CoolStuff Newsletter. Dave also showed off a cool litle helicopter that is perfect for flying above a digital balance to answer the question of how much force will you measure when it's hovering. As it turns out we don't get the expected answer of exactly the weight of the helicopter. It's about 35% higher. If it was flown in an enclosed container we would get the expected weight.

After dinner it was my turn to ramble on about the Wiimote Whiteboard. I also realized I never gave out the link to my instructions. I put them up on a web page for everyone. This was the same thing I showed off in February, but this time I brought parts for IR LED pens and such. I also passed out CDs of required software. If you try this and run into problems don't hesitate to send me an email (falconphysics@gmail.com) to ask questions. I also mentioned Animoto, a cool website for making slide shows. Here's an example of one I put together with pictures from our 50th anniversary bash.

February at Divine Child High School

posted Feb 5, 2009, 2:50 AM by Steve Dickie   [ updated Feb 5, 2009, 3:03 AM ]

I (Steve Dickie) got to host this one, but as usual I had about 10 hours worth of material but only an hour worth of time to present, so I didn't get to everything I'd like to have done. If you're interested in seeing more of what I do then you might want to check out my blogs. I've been doing a technology in education blog for three or four years (Teaching With Technology) and more recently I've started doing one that's more focused on science education (FLOSScience). Over the next few days I'll be collecting notes and links on everything I presented and I'll put them here.

As you may also know. We tried something new and streamed the whole meeting live on the internet via Ustream. Ustream also recorded the boradcast, but it doesn't seem to play well from the net. I've downloaded it and as soon as I get it edited down a little I'll post it up.

Here are some Wiimote links to whet your appetite.

December meeting in Plymouth

posted Dec 11, 2008, 2:16 AM by Steve Dickie

We had a great meeting last night (12/10/08). There were four (maybe 5) science education students there and at lest one who is specifically going for a physics minor.

We set a date for the February meeting for the 3rd at Divine Child High School in Dearborn. The theme will be technology in teaching.

Demos for the Night:

Paul brought his toys. He highly recommends toys for teaching physics. Now, we all recommend toys when teaching physics, but Paul truly embraces their use. Be buys lots and in bulk so the kids get to play. He likes toys because they tend to be cheaper than the same stuff sold from science supply companies, although often not quite as repeatable. He showed a variety of car types. Some that replace those constant velocity cars and some that simply roll that can be sent down a ramp but are big enough for a motion sensor to see.

One toy he showed off he still hasn't figured out how to make it work was a frog that climbs a chain. He figured he could do elevator labs and has tried to use motion and force sensors with it but the data are very messy. I hadn't thought about it till just now, I wonder if it might be workable with some sort of video analysis.

Paul recommends Joissu for buying toys. They have really low prices so it makes it possible to get classroom sets of may different toys.

Steve (Rae) got up next and piggy backed on the toy descriptions. He has two guns that shoot suction cup darts. One of the darts has a steel ball bearing glued to the end. He asks questions like: "Which would you rather be shot with? When fired horizontally, which dart will hit the ground first? If I point them straight down and fire, which will hit the ground first?" These questions lead to discussions of force, mass, and acceleration.

Dart guns like these are getting harder to find, and Steve says as they age they get much less reliable, but if you can find some they are really useful for getting across some basic concepts.

Next up I (Steve Dickie) jumped in. Being a ham at heart I probably talked for too long. I stared by showing off my hand crank generator. Science supply companies sell one called Genecon, but these cost
about $50 ea. I made one from a hand crank flashlight. These flashlight can be found in a number of places for fairly cheap. Someone mentioned that Home Depot is selling them right now for 3 for $10. I'll be going out after school to buy a pile my self. Anyway if you're interested in doing this yourself it is really not too hard. I have instructions on my own site and I'll be improving them at some point soon.

Next I shared an idea which was one I stole and adapted from Mark Davids. Mark has showed, in the past, how you can take a cheap solar cell and attach it to a portable amplifier to "hear" the 120 Hz flashing of classroom lights. All you need to do is solder the solar cell to a cable from some cheap headphones and plug it in. I realized I can plug the same cable into the microphone jack on a computer and use an oscilloscope program in order to see the fluctuations in the light. I use a free program called Visual Analyser for this. I also use another free program called Audacity as a recording oscilloscope. For some ideas on how you can do a variety of labs/demos with a computer a less than $10 in parts and how you can make your own solarcell sensor you can check out my web page.

Last, but certainly not least was Laura. Laura shared a list of questions she uses with her students. The questions are designed to have two possible answers, the correct one and one that is a typical misconception. Students then must pick one side and she has them stand up and take physical sides. Their task is to then convince people on the other side to cross the lines. Laura observes and listens. By the time they're done she has a very good idea of what they know and what they don't know about a subject.

Laura also shared a link to the PhET site. I'm not going to tell you what this is. You just need to go there and look around. You'll be glad you did.

50th Anniversary Blast

posted Nov 15, 2008, 7:36 AM by Steve Dickie

Our 50th anniversary party was outstanding. It was hosted at Wayne State University. We started with a bit of history, presented by Mark Davids. Then we moved into our meal, which was arranged by Mike MacIntyre.

After the meal we had a whole bunch of outstanding demos, designed specifically for a crowd which included spouses and children. I'm not going to even try listing them all. I'll get some picture up soon.

The demos were followed by door prizes, which included prizes donated by Arbor Scientific, Vernier, Al Gibson, and the AAPT.

Then we had make and takes for the kids.

We decided to cancel the planetarium show since by the time we'd gotten to the make and takes it was already past 9:00 pm.

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