Monday, January 28, 2013

Hewitt-Drew-it! Newton's Laws Problem

We're ramping up the frequency of Hewitt Drewitt! highlights to two per week. Check in on Mondays and Thursdays when you get a quiet moment to appreciate a new episode.

In this screencast, Paul covers some good physics with an explanation of the classic 2-mass-pulley problem.

Hewitt-Drew-it! PHYSICS 22. Newton's Laws Problem

Monday, January 14, 2013

Van de Graaff 2013 photos are up!

Actually, the Rio Phyz 2013 album is now up on Flickr, and the VDG pics are part of it.

Rio Phyz 2013

NGSS Final Draft: Feedback window open through 1/29/13

The final public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards hit the web last week and can be accessed via

It's a big document, so I'll ease you into things with some light NGSS video links.

Why NGSS? from Achieve on Vimeo.

It's easy to be overwhelmed by the density and structure of the document. So you'll want to take this video in before digging in.

How to Read the Next Generation Science Standards from Achieve on Vimeo.

Big picture? The pendulum has swung. California's Science Standards (1998-present) were heavy on content and light on process. NGSS drops chunks of content in favor of extensive process. As is always the case when standards are developed, assessment is "a player to be named later". That is, no one has any operational sense of what the size or nature of Next Generation Science Assessment. The energy, excitement, and enthusiasm is directed toward the construction of a standards document.

Preparers of standards documents seem to enjoy orchestrating grand visions, charting scopes and sequences, sculpting the shape of instruction. Assessment is left to others. Lessers, really. Tasked with dirty work of ensuring the vision has been brought to life. Work restricted by tight budgets, psychometrics, security, and rancorous committee debates. The visionaries who craft standards are usually long gone by the time an assessment committee realizes the standards do not lend themselves to assessment.

Do I have concerns regarding the NGSS? Yes I do. The Fordham Institute and the National Center for Science Education give California's science standards top marks. Will we get something better by throwing in with the bulk of the other states? Those who prefer process-based standards to content-based standards assure me the answer is "yes". And it may well be. I remain undecided.

In any case, the window for public feedback on the final draft of NGSS can be made through January 29 via the NGSS website.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Forty years before The Mechanical Universe

The Mechanical Universe is no spring chicken. It was born in the mid-1980s.

I recently stumbled across this old gem on YouTube. As a fan of Atomic Café, I've got a soft spot for post-WWII-era animation. It's not a vision of gender equity, and the scientific models aren't flawless, but it's tasty nostalgia, tinged with that proud, declarative optimism for "Tomorrow's World." And Mr. Electron is as cute as Casper.

Principles of Electricity part 1 (1945)

Principles of Electricity part 2 (1945)