Sunday, January 30, 2011

PTSOS2: Heat Waves in Sacramento

Despite the chilly tule fog, a group of physics teachers gathered to discuss the pedagogy of heat and waves at Rio Americano High School yesterday. It was PTSOS2: Give Physics a Whirl.

We ran through kinetic theory, temperature, specific heat, and heat transfer in the morning. Demonstrations were demonstrated, with presentation tips aplenty. Corresponding presos were presented (with my usual admonitions about how bad PowerPoints can be). Lab activities from the Conceptual Physics Lab Manual: Activities · Experiments · Demonstrations · Tech Labs were discussed and summarized.

Specifics included conductometers, radiometers, radiators, Miracle Thaws, and many others. We can never resist the Leidenfrost effect. (A full episode of Jearl Walker's Kinetic Karnival is devoted to this topic.) That led us to busting the paranormal explanation of firewalking.

One highlight was Steve Keith's Rubens' Tube.


During lunch, we were treated to a surprise visit from the Physics Go Girls (Morgan and Riley), who brought treats. With their chartreuse db-T's, they could have been seen from outer space.


Their customized carbohydrate comestibles were enjoyed by participants and workshop leaders alike.

After lunch, we launched into mechanical waves and sound. We discussed the connection of vibrations to waves (without getting bogged down into the robust details of simple harmonic motion). We delved into the Bell Labs wave machine, a Doppler rocket, PhET sims, WavePort, and others. I really like WavePort for creating and analyzing sounds.

A roommful of Talkie Tapes was too silly to not take a video of.

The fact that some users often mishear the word "fun" led us on a tangent of audio pareidolia. Our visit to Jeff Milner's Backmasking website resulted in laughter (wincing, cringing) of varying degrees of propriety.

Steve piped some heavy gas (the eco-friendly freon replacement) through a song flute (recorder) so we could hear the difference that makes. Much like the Mythbusters Fun with Gas clip.

We ended the day with the real make-n-take: Steve Keith's newest and improved-est version of the ever-popular String Thing. (Here's the Exploratorium's version.)

I couldn't resist slowing the finished product down with my compact FH-100.

It was a great day! More photos can be found at my Flickr site.

PTSOS is sponsored by the NCNAAPT and made possible by a grant from the Karl L. Brown Memorial Scholarship fund.

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