Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Conceptual Physics Alive! Video Question Set

Now available from Arbor Scientific: the Conceptual Physics Alive! Video Question Set.

My school was able to purchase the entire set of Conceptual Physics Alive!, Paul Hewitt's Conceptual Physics course recorded during his tenure at The University of Hawaii, some years ago.

I enjoyed watching Hewitt grab and maintain his students' attentions with his enthusiastic presentations. But I never thought to show them to students. I show various episodes of The Mechanical Universe (high school and college) and Jearl Walker's Kinetic Karnival. But those videos were produced for television. Conceptual Physics Alive! was simply Hewitt giving physics lessons via lecture.

At some point, I needed to be out for two consecutive days and couldn't afford to waste the instructional time. I had a set of video questions (questions students answer during a video presentation) for an episode of Mechanical Universe. One day covered. But the second day? I produced a set of video questions for the appropriate episode of CPA, and I was good to go for the two-day absence.

When I returned, a student told me he preferred the Hewitt video to the Mechanical Universe. I contradicted him directly out of astonishment: "No you didn't! You preferred the Mechanical Universe because it's highly produced and has better graphics!"

The student insisted, "No, the bearded guy was more fun to watch."

Last summer I watched each of Hewitt's 34 video lessons and spent the time needed to produce video question sets for each episode. The process is fairly simple.

1. Watch the episode as a spectator. Simply take it in.

2. Grab a pencil and some blank paper. Watch a second time while working the remote control and listening for potential questions. Pause, stop, rewind. Write the questions as they come from the video. Include diagrams where it makes sense to do so. This step is messy. Some questions will be short-answer, some will be multiple choice, some will be true-false, and some will involve drawing or interpreting diagrams.

3. Turn off the TV and turn on the computer. Type the questions and draw the illustrations. If possible, create two forms (with as many different questions as is practicable).

That's how these video question sets came about.

Now I'm good to go for an absence any time of the year. Hewitt will be my guest lecturer, and I know my students will be engaged in his lessons.

The video question sets are the difference between me using the Hewitt videos or not. Now that I have them, I can use them whenever it makes sense to do so.

I'm very happy with the question sets for their variety and the fact that most lessons come with alternate sets. Students seated next to one another are to be given different forms. Keeps the wandering eyes to a minimum.

It was also important to me that the sheets look good: nice fonts and professional graphics. I think the pages look great and work great. I hope you'll agree.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

ExploratoRio 2010 - ONE DAY ONLY!

Actually, all ExploratoRios are one day only, going back to the very first one in 1993. It's still a groovy, hands on experience of science and perception.

Here's a video from the 2001 event. (Sorry about the silent, black intro and outtro.)

Of course there are oodles of albums! Even some old, old thumbnails.

The Exploratorium is a continuing inspiration!

Rio Americano High School. Wednesday, 4/7/10, 7pm-9pm

UPDATE: A preliminary photo album is up!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Fountain of Fizz

Addison Wesley's forthcoming Conceptual Physics Laboratory Manual: Activities · Experiments · Demonstrations · Tech Labs by Paul G. Hewitt and Dean Baird will include a demonstration lab write-up for the ever-popular soda pop geyser.

Here's some slow-motion video focused on the soda bottle. The clips are QuickTime, so you can download them to your own device (iPad?).

A write-up will appear in the upcoming lab manual. This copy is a PDF for your convenience. Oh, and the instructor's notes!

The Geyser Tube is a helpful device in this demo. It restricts the fluid flow for some Venturi fun. And it increases the likelihood you'll stay dry during the show.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Power Balance Bracelet

A colleague at school is an accomplished runner and a world traveler. While in Spain, he learned of a "balance bracelet." For a mere €26 ($60-ish), he could purchase a bracelet which would purportedly improve his athletic performance. The bracelet includes a hologram which, according to promoters, "resonates at the frequency of the human energy field."

He asked me about it, because he knows I'm a skeptical type. Once I heard about the resonant hologram, I told him the bracelet was bunk. But I was intrigued, so I scoped it out. The demonstration is compelling!

Even more so with noted scientist and skeptic, Shaquille O'Neal.

But Richard Saunders' simple and effective debunk is almost too easy.

When working out and training, hard work and blood/sweat/tears are no longer required for athletic performance gains--when donning a bracelet can substitute for all that pain--I, too will be a world-class athlete.