David Roundy: partial derivative machine

David walked us though how he uses the “partial derivative machine” to help primarily with thermodynamics but also with some thoughts about both intro- and advanced-courses.

Here’s the recording.

This week (9/24) we’ll be talking with Stephen Collins about his project called The Socratic Brain (“Creating a differentiated, standards-based, collaborative classroom using Socratic Brain software”). Please join us (register here).

Chad Dorsey: Concord Consortium

We talked with Chad about the various resources that are available to physics teachers at the Concord Consortium. He showed us some cool innovations such as how nearly all their simulations now work in HTML 5.

Here’s the recording. Note that our new venue (Big Marker) doesn’t record when people share their screen, so there’s not a lot to see at this recording. We’re still trying to figure out the kinks, thanks for bearing with us during this transition.

This week (9/17) we’ll be talking with David Roundy from Oregon State who will tell us about using the “partial derivative machine” to help teach partial derivatives, specifically in thermo/statistical physics.

Evan Weinberg: automated reassessments

Evan talked with us about his efforts to automate the reassessment process in his Standards-Based Grading implementation. He has coded a system where students earn “credits” that they can cash in to do a reassessment. He talked about how it works out with his students and he showed us the javascript framework (meteor) that he’s learned while doing this.

Here’s the recording.

Gerry Ruch: automated urban astronomy

Gerry told us about the University of St. Thomas’ efforts to build and use a fully automated 17″ astronomical telescope. He described how they dealt with vibrations (it’s mounted on the top of a parking garage), alignment, automation, outreach, and pedagogy. The ultimate goal is to let students from anywhere make a job and then analyze the data.

Here’s the recording.

We’re off for the next few weeks. Our calendar (found on our blog) should be up to date.

Eugenia Etkina: ISLE-based teaching and new textbook

We talked Eugenia Etkina about the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) and the new textbook she has spent more than a decade developing to support ISLE teaching. 
Here’s the recording link.This week (4/2 9:30 pm ET) we’ll be talking with Gerry Ruch about his work installing a share-able telescope in an urban environment.

Physics Student Journal Club #1

We talked with Jim Reardon about his work on optimizing running 400m and 800m track races. We talked about various physical models and talked about how we can use relatively simple models to investigate complex phenomena. Jim is happy to continue to interact with any students with questions, simply send questions to Andy Rundquist (firstname.lastname@gmail).

Here’s the recording.

This week (3/26) we’ll be hosting Eugenia Etkina to talk about her new calculus based physics text. Join us!

Physics Student Journal Club prep

This Wednesday (3/19/2014) we’ll be joined by Jim Reardon to talk about his paper about the optimal way to run 400 and 800 meter races. Here are some questions you can use to get your students thinking about this:

  • Should you always run your hardest?
  • Should you try to go the same speed the whole time?
  • Should you be exhausted by the end?
  • For how long should you accelerate?
  • Jim says that entropy is the key, what does that mean to you?

Here are some ideas about the three models propose:

  1. You provide propulsion, friction slows you down, let’s keep track of the energy.
    1. \frac{dv}{dt}+\frac{v}{\tau}=f(t)
      1. v is velocity
      2. \tau is the friction coefficient
      3. f is the propulsive force (per unit mass)
    2. \frac{dE}{dt}=\sigma-fv
      1. E is the runner’s energy supply
      2. \sigma is the replenishment rate
    3. you get all the values by fitting to the races we have data for
    4. predicts that you should run your second half of the race faster
  2. Energy comes both aerobically and anaerobically
    1. aerobic is constant
    2. anaerobic decays
    3. max power is used
    4. energy goes into kinetic energy, drag losses, and heat
    5. \lambda S_0e^{-\lambda t}+R=A v+\frac{1}{2}\rho v^3 S C_D+m v \frac{dv}{dt}
      1. S is the effective area
      2. rho is the air density
      3. the rest are fit parameters
    6. predicts deceleration in the 100m race
    7. still gets 400 and 800 meter elite races wrong
  3. X factor
    1. entropy is key!
    2. calculus of variations
      1. maximize distance in given time
      2. similar to Brachistochrone approach
    3. matches data very well!

Physics Student Journal Club

Unfortunately the web conferencing software we use is suffering an outage tonight (3/12) so we’re postponing this discussion until next week (3/19).

Upcoming weeks:

  • 3/19 Rescheduled Physics Student Journal Club
  • 3/26 Eugenia Etkina talking about her new general physics textbook
  • 4/2 Gerry Ruch: Urban telescope at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul MN

Tom Jordan: QuarkNet

Tom told us about the history and future of QuarkNet. We talked about the value to both the researchers and the teachers involved. It was interesting to hear about their efforts to build a community of physics educators.

Here’s the recording.

This week (Wednesday 3/12 at 9:30pm ET) we’ll be doing our first physics student journal club. The paper we’ve chosen is entitled “Optimal pacing for running 400m and 800m track races” by Jim Reardon (who will be joining us). If you’re interested, encourage your students to join us, or have them send along any questions to Andy Rundquist (firstname.lastname@gmail.com).