Sunday, January 26, 2020

CAASPP link added to sidebar...

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress is the part of the California Department of Education responsible for the statewide tests administered to students, such as the CAST (California Science Test).

They ostensibly publish training and practice exams ahead of the operational administration in March. As we close out January and head toward February, the training and practice exam status is as follows:

Scoring Guides for CAASPP: CAST, Smarter Balanced, CAA Practice Tests, and CSA

California Science Test (CAST)

Practice Tests

  • CAST Practice Items Scoring Guide—Grade Five (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Practice Items Scoring Guide—Grade Five, Braille (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Practice Items Scoring Guide—Grade Eight (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Practice Items Scoring Guide—Grade Eight, Braille (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Practice Items Scoring Guide—High School (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Practice Items Scoring Guide—High School, Braille (Coming Soon)

Training Tests

  • CAST Training Items Scoring Guide—Grade Five (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Training Items Scoring Guide—Grade Five, Braille (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Training Items Scoring Guide—Grade Eight (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Training Items Scoring Guide—Grade Eight, Braille (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Training Items Scoring Guide—High School (Coming Soon)
  • CAST Training Items Scoring Guide—High School, Braille (Coming Soon)
I added a permanent link in the sidebar to the right to make it easy to check in and determine CAASPP's definition of "Coming Soon").

The administration is, once again, scheduled for March. Fingers crossed that these items will post prior to that administration.

PTSOS Workshop 2 Links of Phyz

Here are some notes and links relevant to PTSOS Workshop #2. If you're new to teaching physics in Northern California, check out

Momentum and Energy
I prefer momentum before energy, but I've run into teachers who consider those to be fightin' words.

Phyz Momentum Curriculum

One highlight here is our Grass Omelette (Egg Toss Competition). In 2013, I had five sections of Physics, so I was able to compile an adequate set of images and video to make a tidy video: Egg Toss 2013

Phyz Energy Curriculum

If you're a fan of ranking items, you might enjoy
Potential Energy Ranking - Answers
Kinetic Energy and Momentum Rankings

Further distinctions between kinetic energy and momentum are explored here.
Kinetic Energy and Momentum Conundrums - Answers

For video resources, there's
The Mechanical Universe High School: Conservation of Momentum, and Conservation of Energy
The Mechanical Universe (College): Conservation of Energy, Potential Energy, and Conservation of Momentum.

Waves and Sound
Phyz Waves Curriculum

One of my favorite lessons is a nice foray into skepticism: Back Masking and EVP (Drop Box Link to Keynote Presentation). I connect it to a lesson that involves Musical Roads and Talkie Tapes.

Demo: Science is Fun!

For video resources, there's
The Mechanical Universe High School: Introduction to Waves
The Mechanical Universe (College): Waves
PBS: The Secret Life of Waves

Charging Ahead 2020

This year's Van de Graaff portrait gallery. Enjoy.

I'm migrating from Flickr to SmugMug. One apparently owns the other, but they continue to operate as separate entities.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Another call you don't need to return

Jeff Lind at 888-227-8212 navigated his way into my school voicemail box to request a call back. He is not a parent of any of my students. He is not someone I have elected to do business with. No, it seems he's on a cold-call campaign from WorldStrides, an educational travel company from North Carolina.

Nope. I blasted a mass email to all my colleagues at school to ignore any call-back requests from him.

I reported a similar cold-call telemarketer in a previous post. I can only imagine these will become more common. Apparently school voicemail systems are not protected by "Do Not Call" lists.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

My Mechanical Universe Sagrada Família

I've been enjoying moving my Mechanical Universe curriculum out of the classroom and into the realm of YouTube homework this year. Posting the high school adaptations to YouTube and having a one-stop index webpage that links to every episode makes it easy. And they wouldn't be a part of my curriculum if I didn't have question sets to accompany them.

Every once in a while, I prefer to use a full college edition during a unit. So I decided to jump down the rabbit hole and begin developing Lessons of Phyz question sets for the college edition episodes. So far, I've been able to put together 12 sets.

[12/7/19 Update: 17 sets]

So that means there are only 40 35 episodes left to go. And writing a question set for a Mechanical Universe episode is a heavy lift compared to writing them for more straight-forward science documentaries. So I don't foresee completing all 52 episodes any time before 2022.

I have divided the series into six groups that make sense to me. In the event that I complete any of those groups, a TpT bundle will be assembled. When the whole series is completed, a megabundle will be prepared. 2022 will be a great time to be alive! Until then, I'll add question sets as I make them. One at a time. Unhurried.

For now, take a look and see if there's anything you can use before we get to that 2022 paradise, college or high school.

The Mechanical Universe of Phyz page (with links to every episode, college and high school)

Basilica de la Sagrada Família is the famous Barcelona church designed by Antoni Gaudí to be constructed on a 100-year+ timetable. The last true Alan Parsons Project album was all about Gaudí, and the opening track was La Sagrada Faília.

The Heat Playlist of Phyz

I fear I might be the last high school physics instructor around still teaching heat and temperature. I don't get any sense that NGSS needs me to teach it. AP Physics doesn't need me to teach it. I teach it in AP Physics 2 before delving into the curious realm of thermodynamics. But that's because I think the topics and demonstrations are so groovy.

In any case, here's my playlist.

The Heat Playlist of Phyz
(Love Is Like A) Heat WaveMartha Reeves & the Vandellas1963
Burn Down the MissionElton John1970
Burnin' for YouBlue Öyster Cult1978
Burning Down the HouseTalking Heads1983
Cat People (Putting Out Fire)David Bowie1982
Cold as IceForeigner1977
Cold Cold HeartNorah Jones2002
Dark FireStrunz & Farah1994
Don't Stop Me NowQueen1978
Feels Like FireSantana (feat. Dido)2002
FireSara Bareilles2019
FireIngrid Michaelson2012
Fire And Fury (Fuego Y Furia)Oscar Lopez1997
Fire And RainJames Taylor1970
Fire LakeBob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band1980
FlamethrowerThe J. Geils Band1981
Gypsy FlameArmik1995
Heat of the MomentAsia1982
Heat of the SunStrunz & Farah1994
Heat On the StreetPhil Collins1989
His Latest FlameMary Lou Lord1998
Hot BloodedForeigner1978
I'm On FireBruce Springsteen1982
Ice CreamSarah McLachlan1995
Long Hot SummerStyle Council1983
Paper in FireJohn Cougar Mellencamp1987
Rattle And BurnJesse Cook2005
Set Fire to the RainAdele2010
She's So ColdThe Rolling Stones1980
Some Like It HotThe Power Station1985
SteamPeter Gabriel1992
Still On FireAztec Camera1984
Strange FireIndigo Girls1987
The Fire Down BelowBob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band1976
The Fire InsideBob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band1991
The Rhythm of the HeatPeter Gabriel1982
The Warmth of the SunThe Beach Boys1965
This House Is On FireNatalie Merchant2001
Warm SoundZero72001
Warm WaysFleetwood Mac1975
We Didn't Start The FireBilly Joel1989
World On FireSarah McLachlan2003
You're My FlameZero72006

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Slow your roll

If you're not following Frank Noschese (@fnoschese) on Twitter, why even be a physics teacher with a Twitter account?

And if you get useful mileage out of constant velocity buggies (such as these from Arbor Scientific) but wish you had a convenient, reliable way to curb their enthusiasm, Frank tweets this:

Monday, October 07, 2019

Doggies on a waxed floor

Where will you use it: inertia, friction, centripetal force? I don't think students will mind if you use it for all of those.

Can you stretch it into conservation laws? Of course you can! Low stopping force requires longer stopping time. Impulse/momentum: check. That wee force will need to act across a large distance to change the kinetic energy of those goggies! Work-energy: check.

Want to take it a step further? How did those doggos get up to speed to begin with? Hmmm...

And fear not: it all ends well.

Hat tip to Wendy A. (Rio Phyz ’88). Old physics teacher flex? Why, yes!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Whiplash Model

As I'm starting Forces and Newton's Laws of Motion in my Conceptual Physics class I am bringing out every demo I've got on inertia. I've got viral videos like the Target Shopping Cart Fail, stuffed animals on toy cars to run into walls, etc. As I was going through my list I realized that I didn't have a whiplash demo. I have plenty of images from physics textbooks and medical journals (Wikipedia version below) but I didn't have a physical representation of one to have in my classroom. And you know what happens when I decide I need a physical model ...
By BruceBlaus - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Trying to start with what I had I found the biggest stiffest spring in my cabinet, something that I picked up at the hardware store because, why not? I usually can't get this thing to move much when I hang weights from it unless I'm adding over 2 kg so its a very stiff spring. It is similar to this one from Home Depot, about an inch diameter and almost a foot long.

While a heavy human head analog is best, I was in a pinch so I grabbed a used styrofoam head from our Chemistry department. They usually do a demo using the styrofoam heads about safety goggles and they end up half melting them with an acid (I think). A quick Amazon search shows they are fairly inexpensive. I used a piece of 1/2" PVC that hadn't been cut squarely so it had a crooked sharp end to start cutting a circular hole in the bottom of the foam head base. I kept driving the PVC in, occasionally having to empty the styrofoam core that was forming inside by shoving a smaller dowel through it. Once I had a hole through the base of the head into the main part of the head I tried to enlarge the hole using larger diameter PVC and a hacksaw blade.

Once I thought I had the hole big enough I sliced the head at the neck as if I was decapitating it. I inserted one end of the spring as far into the head as I felt it needed to be to be secure. The other end had to be pulled through the base of the neck. Since I wanted the spring to fit snuggly and a spring that can twist is not rigid enough to push through a hole it took some doing. I found pulling the spring through with a pair of pliers while twisting to work the best.

One end of the spring does stick through the base but I don't think it would have enough of a hold on this base if I made it flush. Since my head has a bit of a base beyond the neck you have to hold on to that part rather than just the portion of the spring that sticks out the bottom to get the right effect. But in the end it worked great!

This is my colleague demonstrating it in real time and then in slow motion because of course you have to:

My future plans are to get another similar spring and redo it with a more realistic head like a hair dresser's practice head. I'd like to secure it to a flat base perhaps with casters under it, so that it is easier to roll along my desk to simulate the crash. But still, I now have a real whiplash model I made with what I had in less than half an hour, it will work for this year!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Forces Playlist of Phyz

The Forces Playlist of Phyz
Carry That WeightThe Beatles1969
First PushDeVotcKa2005
Force of Nature (Bonus Track)Lenka2008
Force TenRush1987
Forces ... Darling (Featuring Earl Zinger)Koop2006
FrictionImagine Dragons2014
The Girl With the Weight of the World in Her HandsIndigo Girls1990
Grace In GravityThe Story1991
GravityAgainst The Current2015
GravityJesse Cook2005
GravityJohn Mayer2006
GravityA Perfect Circle2003
GravitySara Bareilles2008
GravityWith Confidence2017
Gravity (feat. JMR)Jai Wolf2016
Gravity (Stripped)Wage War2017
Please Push No MoreGary Numan1980
PullBlind Melon1996
Pull ShapesThe Pipettes2007
Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)Squeeze1980
PushMatchbox Twenty1996
PushSarah McLachlan2003
Push on for the DawnCorinne Bailey Rae2016
Stop Draggin' My Heart AroundTom Petty & The Heartbreakers1981
Tension Is A Passing NoteSixpence None The Richer2002
WeightlessAdam French2017
WeightlessBrina Eno and Daniel Lanois1989
WeightlessChris Burkich2016
WeightlessCity And Colour2011
WeightlessThird Eye Blind2016
WeightlessWashed Out2013
Weightless (feat. Shungudzo)Hayden James2019