Monday, July 30, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

AAPT Summer Meeting 2012

I'm settled in at The Inn at Penn and readying for AAPTSM12, the Summer Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers. This year, the host is The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

I'll be involved in the following sessions:

Workshop W19: Skepticism in the Classroom.
Saturday, July 28, 1:00pm-5:00pm David Rittenhouse Lab 3C2.
Matt Lowry and I will tag-team our way through many engaging mini-lessons in skepticism and critical thinking that can be easily plugged into the physics curriculum. Laughs are guaranteed, and a good time will be had by all.

Commercial Workshop CW04: Paul Hewitt and Conceptual Physics. 
Monday, July 30, 12:15pm-1:15pm Inn at Penn Regents/St. Marks.
Author Paul Hewitt discusses the latest developments in Pearson's Conceptual Physics, Conceptual Physical Science, Conceptual Integrated Science, and Mastering Physics. (I'll be appearing in a cameo role!)

Crackerbarrel CRKBRL-05: YouTube Share-a-thon.
Tuesday, July 31, 12:00n-1:30pm Sheraton Ben Franklin V.
Many of us have found pedagogical gems on YouTube. We aren't we sharing these at AAPT Meetings? I have no idea! So let's start sharing our YouTube physics lessons! I've got plenty, but so do you, so I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours!

I'll probably come up with something for the High School Share-a-thon (Sunday, July 29, 6:00pm-8:00pm Amado Recital Room).

It's always a delight to catch up with my physics-teaching colleagues from hither and yon. In the spirit of the season, I'll say, "Let the games begin."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hewitt-Drew-It! Equilibrium Problems

The Hewitt Drew It! screencast series continues with Equilibrium Problems. Hewitt works out a few number puzzles relating to the scaffold scenario discussed in the previous episode.

Hewitt-Drew-It! Equilibrium Problems

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Buying the confidence to burn your feet

Fire walking is a dangerous stunt. I've never done it and I might never do it. There are tricky variables and too many ways it can go wrong. And remember, this concern is coming from someone who jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. On purpose!

We understand how it works when it works out well. Burned-down wood may be quite hot, but it's a poor conductor. No one—neither physics educators nor "mind-over-matter" spiritualists—ever walks across glowing metal ingots. The difference is that the physics-types know why doing so would be a bad idea.

So-called "self-help gurus" long ago stole this stunt, rebranding it as a demonstration of self-confidence. The get their marks to pay big bucks to sit in a hotel conference room all day, listening to personal empowerment clap-trap.

To "prove" that this nonsense has changed them (in ways other than diminishing their bank account balances), said gurus arrange for a fire walk at the end of the day. The pitch is that with their new sense of empowerment, they will be able to do things that would have scared them just hours ago.

The fire pit is set up and sometime after dusk, participants shed their shoes. They walk across dewey grass en route to their walk across the burned-down embers. (The dew-wetted feet benefit from a bit of Leidenfrost Effect protection in addition to the previously mentioned low conductivity factor.)

Often, everything goes well and the ruse succeeds. Participants are none the wiser in physics but leave with the confidence they can do anything they desire; anything would be easier than walking on fire,

But it doesn't always work out.

A recent Tony Robbins workshop ended with 21 burn victims incuding at least 3 sent to San Jose hospitals.

There's a nice fire walking debunk by Richard Wiseman on my Web Video for the Classroom page.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Announcing the "Hewitt Drew It!" screencast series

Conceptual Physics author, Paul Hewitt, has posted the first in a series of new screencasts. Each screencast is devoted to a specific topic. And each was written, animated, and narrated by Paul Hewitt, so the physics is correct and the content is accessible to virtually everyone.

These are all-new screencasts produced in a style familiar to those who have seen the popular Khan Academy videos.

The first Hewitt Drew It! screencast is about The Equilibrium Rule and tells the story of how Hewitt got "roped" into physics in the first place.


Saturday, July 07, 2012

"The good ole days weren't always good...

And tomorrow's not as bad as it seems."
Billy Joel
"Keeping the Faith"

Here's an interesting eye-opener from Slate:
Five Misconceptions About Teaching Math and Science

In brief, the myths are
1. American schools have been in decline over the past 30-40 years.
2. Low-performing students simply lack math/science aptitude.
3. Curriculum reform is the key to higher achievement.
4. We need massive recruiting efforts to attract college students to the profession.
5. Only top math/science students should be allowed to teach these subjects.

Refutation of the last one hits it out of the park. But the whole piece is well argued.