Recently Frank Noschese, a NY physics teacher (Cornell) with a strong background in modeling and standards-based grading and author of the popular blog "Action-Reaction," was nominated for "Most Influential Blog Post" in the 2010 Edublog awards. The post, "The $2 Interactive Whiteboard," is a great resource for teachers looking to get into modeling and white boarding cheaply and easily. Help him win the award and, more importantly, spread the message about modeling in physics education by voting at: http://edublogawards.com/2010awards/most-influential-blog-post-2010/
You Are Edison... Brilliant, methodical, patient. Edisons believe in using teamwork to solve problems. They see the value in testing 800 compounds before finding the right one. It may not be as sexy as getting it right on the first try, but without thinkers like you, we'd all be in the dark.
What does the quiz say about you?
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">Considering an AP Physics course? Outstanding, but which course should you take? The College Board now offers four separate and distinct versions of AP Physics, each designed with very different content, styles, and levels of mathematical complexity.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">Currently, the four physics courses offered are AP Physics 1, AP Physics 2, AP Physics C: Mechanics, and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism. So letâ€™s start by talking about the courses and what each has to offer.</p>
<h2 style="text-rendering: optimizelegibility; line-height: 1; margin: 0.5rem 0px 1rem; font-size: 2.25rem; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif;">Algebra-Based Courses</h2>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">The new AP Physics 1 and 2 courses are both algebra-based courses, meaning no knowledge of calculus is required, though students should be comfortable with basic algebra and trigonometry. The exams for these courses were first offered in May of 2015, so the courses and the exams are still evolving through their infancy. Further, the AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 courses include a strong emphasis on conceptual understanding and critical thinking. Compared to traditional physics courses, these courses include a significant amount of reading and structured writing, experimental design, and critical thinking.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">Though mathematical reasoning and problem-solving are required for success in the course, they arenâ€™t emphasized as strongly as in traditional courses. The courses are centered around seven â€œbig ideas in physics,â€ and many of the exam problems will test your ability to interpret and apply one or more of these ideas to a new and unique situation (sometimes referred to as a transfer task).</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">Like most introductory physics courses, both AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 include a strong lab component to help students develop proficiency in science practices which are crucial to success. The course as a whole focuses on the idea that physics is something you do, not just something you know.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">The associated AP exams for these courses consist of two sections: a 90-minute multiple choice section and a 90-minute free response section. The multiple choice section consists of 50 to 55 questions with four answer choices per question. Unlike most multiple choice tests, however, certain questions may have multiple correct answers that need to be chosen to receive full credit.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">The free response section consists of four or five questions. Typically one question will cover experimental design, one question will cover quantitative and qualitative problem solving and reasoning, and three questions are of the short answer variety. In addition, students are expected to articulate their answers with a paragraph-length response.</p>
<h3 style="text-rendering: optimizelegibility; line-height: 1; margin: 0.5rem 0px 1rem; font-size: 1.75rem; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif;">AP Physics 1</h3>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">The AP Physics 1 course itself is designed as a first-year physics course. The bulk of the course centers around traditional Newtonian Mechanics, beginning with the study of motion (kinematics), forces (dynamics), work, energy, power, linear momentum, circular motion and rotation, gravity, and oscillations. In addition, AP Physics 1 also includes a brief introduction to mechanical waves, basic electrostatics, and simple electrical circuits.</p>
<h3 style="text-rendering: optimizelegibility; line-height: 1; margin: 0.5rem 0px 1rem; font-size: 1.75rem; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif;">AP Physics 2</h3>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">AP Physics 2 is designed as a follow-up to AP Physics 1, utilizing the same course philosophy, but extending the content covered to include fluids, thermal physics, a deeper look at electrostatics and more complex electrical circuits, magnetism, optics, and modern physics.</p>
<h2 style="text-rendering: optimizelegibility; line-height: 1; margin: 0.5rem 0px 1rem; font-size: 2.25rem; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif;">Calculus-Based Courses</h2>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">The two AP Physics C courses both incorporate calculus, so students should have calculus as a pre-requisite or co-requisite for the best possible experience. AP Physics C: Mechanics can be offered as a first-year physics course, though some schools offer both AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism in the same year to students who have prior physics courses in their background.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">Compared to AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2, the AP Physics C courses follow a more traditional path with a stronger emphasis on quantitative problem solving. The level of calculus complexity is relatively light, with a strong focus on application of principles to various situations as opposed to the longer written explanations of the APâ€“1 and APâ€“2 courses.</p>
<h3 style="text-rendering: optimizelegibility; line-height: 1; margin: 0.5rem 0px 1rem; font-size: 1.75rem; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif;">AP Physics C: Mechanics</h3>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">Similar to AP Physics 1, AP Physics C: Mechanics covers only traditional Newtonian Mechanics. Students study motion, forces, work, energy, power, linear momentum, angular momentum, circular motion, rotational motion, gravity, and oscillations. Compared to AP Physics 1, however, the C course incorporates a higher level of technical complexity, such as dealing with situations of a non-constant acceleration, incorporation of drag forces (such as air resistance), and calculations of rotational inertia.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">Both of the AP-C exams consist of roughly 35 multiple choice questions given in a 45-minute interval, followed by three free response questions in a second 45-minute interval. The AP-C exams are typically given back to back on the same afternoon.</p>
<h3 style="text-rendering: optimizelegibility; line-height: 1; margin: 0.5rem 0px 1rem; font-size: 1.75rem; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif;">AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism</h3>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">The AP Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism course is by far the most technically complex of the AP Physics courses. Beginning with electrostatics, the course includes a detailed look at charges, electric forces, electric fields, electric potential, and capacitors. These concepts are then applied to an analysis of electrical circuits, including circuits with multiple sources of potential difference, real and ideal batteries, and transient analyses of circuits which include capacitors.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">From there, the course transitions into a look at magnetism, with a strong focus on the relationships between electricity and magnetism as Maxwellâ€™s Equations are investigated. Itâ€™s typically in this section that students really begin to challenge themselves, applying fundamental relationships (and calculus skills) to problems of increasing sophistication and technical complexity. With the added knowledge of magnetism, inductors are also discussed and tied back into the analysis of electrical circuits.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">As you can see from the course descriptions, both of the AP Physics C courses are quite limited in scope, allowing for a much deeper exploration of the fundamental relationships and their application to various problems and situations.</p>
<h2 style="text-rendering: optimizelegibility; line-height: 1; margin: 0.5rem 0px 1rem; font-size: 2.25rem; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif;">Long-Term Goals</h2>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">So then, back to our original question â€“ which AP Physics course should you take? The answer, as is so often the case in life, is that it depends. Students who are planning on a career in engineering or physics should definitely consider the calculus-based courses (AP Physics C). These courses are fundamental to future studies, and a majority of colleges and universities accept scores of 4 or 5 in these courses for credit (though many students choose to re-take these courses to further cement their understanding of the fundamental concepts and boost their freshman GPA).</p>
<p><img style="float: right;" title="AP-1-2-C Table.001.png" src="http://aplusphysics.com/flux/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/AP-1-2-C-Table.001.png" alt="AP 1 2 C Table 001" width="400" height="237" border="0" /></p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">For students who arenâ€™t planning on a career in engineering or physics, the AP Physics 1 / AP Physics 2 series might be a better answer if their school of choice accepts APâ€“1/2 credit, as AP Physics C could be â€œoverkillâ€ compared to future course requirements. The problem, however, is that the AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 courses are so new that many colleges donâ€™t know how to deal with them, and as of the writing of this article, there arenâ€™t many schools that provide college credit for strong scores on the exams, as the course content and philosophy often times donâ€™t match up well with the collegeâ€™s offerings. For this reason, students who are up for a challenge and enjoy problem solving may want to target the AP Physics C course, even if they arenâ€™t planning on a career in engineering or physics. Many universities will give credit for a good score in AP Physics C as a general science credit.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">To complicate matters, there are often times opportunities to take a sequence of these courses. In many high schools, AP Physics C is offered as a second-year physics course, with students taking on both the Mechanics and E&M courses in a single year. Itâ€™s a fast-paced course, but doable for those who have successfully passed an introductory physics course. For those taking physics for the first time, AP Physics C: Mechanics is a reasonable year-long endeavor. Some schools with extended class times offer both APâ€“1 and APâ€“2 in the same year, though this is a very aggressive undertaking.</p>
<h2 style="text-rendering: optimizelegibility; line-height: 1; margin: 0.5rem 0px 1rem; font-size: 2.25rem; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif;">Summarizing the Choices</h2>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">To summarize as best I can in this nebulous time period, AP Physics C courses are traditionally for students heading toward physics and/or engineering related career paths, and require a pre-requisite or co-requisite in calculus. Definitely take AP-C Mechanics before AP-C E&M, though it is possible to do both in the same year, especially with some prior physics background. For students not taking calculus or not headed toward physics or engineering careers, AP Physics 1 is a great place to start, with AP Physics 2 a reasonable follow-up for those interested. The concern with these choices is the newness of the courses, and whether colleges and universities will give credit for a strong AP score. As always, discussing and planning out course selections with a guidance counselor in consultation with an admissions counselor is highly advised.</p>
<h2 style="text-rendering: optimizelegibility; line-height: 1; margin: 0.5rem 0px 1rem; font-size: 2.25rem; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif;">Strategies for Success</h2>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">Regardless of which course(s) you choose, the AP Physics courses are challenging courses that require a level of independence and personal accountability to learn the material. These courses arenâ€™t designed for â€œspoon feeding,â€ in which the instructor lectures, students listen, and everything works out. In order to truly understand the material and perform well on the culminating exam, you must engage in the class on a daily basis, struggle through the challenging problems, make mistakes again and again, and learn from them. Actively participate in classroom and lab activities and discussions, ask questions, but be prepared to search out your own answers. And donâ€™t be afraid to take a step back every now and then and think about how what youâ€™re learning applies to the course goals as a whole. Concept-mapping or outlining the topics in the course can be a terrific way to make connections you might not otherwise recognize.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 17px; line-height: 32px;">And of course, you have tons of resources to help you. Beyond just your textbook (which I do recommend you actually open and actively read) and teacher, youâ€™ll find outstanding video tutorials and Q&A forums like those at <a style="color: #308bd8; text-decoration: none;" title="Educator.com" href="http://educator.com/">Educator.com</a>, discussion and <a style="color: #308bd8; text-decoration: none;" title="Homework Help" href="http://aplusphysics.com/community/index.php/forum/13-homework-help/">homework help</a> communities, <a style="color: #308bd8; text-decoration: none;" title="AP-C Guide Sheets" href="http://www.aplusphysics.com/courses/ap-c/APC_Physics.html">â€œcheat sheets,â€</a> and extra problems at <a style="color: #308bd8; text-decoration: none;" title="APlusPhysics.com" href="http://aplusphysics.com/">APlusPhysics.com</a>, and of course there are some great review and companion books available for these specific courses.</p>
<p><strong>About the Author </strong></p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 15px; line-height: 28px;">Dan Fullerton is the author of <a href="http://aplusphysics.com/ap1" target="_blank">AP Physics 1 Essentials</a>, <a href="http://aplusphysics.com/ap2/" target="_blank">AP Physics 2 Essentials</a>, and the <a href="http://aplusphysics.com" target="_blank">APlusPhysics.com</a> website. He is an AP Physics teacher at <a href="http://www.westirondequoit.org/ihs/" target="_blank">Irondequoit High School</a> in Rochester, NY, and was named a <a href="https://www.suny.edu/masterteacher/" target="_blank">New York State Master Physics Teacher</a> in 2014.</p>
<p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.5em; font-family: Helvetica, Helvetica, Georgia, serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 32px;"><em>AP and Advanced Placement Program are registered trademarks of the College Board, which does not sponsor or endorse this work.</em></p>
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Considering an AP Physics course? Outstanding, but which course should you take? The College Board now offers four separate and distinct versions of AP Physics, each designed with very different content, styles, and levels of mathematical complexity. Currently, the four Continue reading →
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A colleague and respected writer from the physics blogosphere asked me this morning if I could explain what APlusPhysics is all about, and why it's worth the effort. Wanting to build up the APlusPhysics community, of course I jumped on the opportunity to distribute information about the project, especially to someone who has a significant following on her blog -- we can use all the targeted advertising we can get!
I had many convoluted answers to the request, but realized I hadn't truly put them together into a "big picture" view of my vision and goals for the site. So, with the help of several friends who graciously offered their critical thinking and editing skills, I believe I have a reasonably complete answer to her question. My response, which I also posted on my personal A+ Physics blog, may be of general interest to readers here, so I'm including it below:
My goal with APlusPhysics is to create a friendly, coherent and dynamic online resource with a consistent theme; an integrated toolset which can be easily customized to meet the needs of a diverse student and educator constituency while incorporating best known practices in physics education research. The site is designed for easy integration with physics modeling strategies, standards based grading (SBG), mastery learning, and “alternate pathway” programs which support students who, for various reasons, aren’t able to fit into the standard classroom educational model.
It’s a work in progress. I’m learning as I go, refining, expanding, deleting and rebuilding. And then doing it all over again. I’m thankful for the support of the physics community as they provide feedback, ideas, opportunities, and constructive criticism that allow for continual refinement and growth from a variety of perspectives, and whose thoughts and ideas are the foundation of this online conglomeration. I hope you find APlusPhysics a useful web resource, and this blog an insightful journal of a developing teacher’s successes, failures, challenges, struggles, and achievements.
Welcome one and all!
WHO AM I?
I’m a high school physics teacher learning something new every day. I was an engineer in industry for more than 10 years, and an adjunct college professor for eight, yet after three years teaching standard introductory (Regents) as well as AP-B and AP-C physics classes, it is obvious to me that student learning styles are changing rapidly… the standard “by-the-book” pedagogy is no longer the optimal method for teaching all students. I need to find a way to differentiate across a wide range of abilities, interests, backgrounds and habits if I want to help each of my students grow to their maximum potential in the brief time I have with them.
I don’t have all (or many of) the answers — I don’t even have all the questions! What I do have is the energy and ability to learn, make changes, take risks, succeed, fail, and ultimately, grow. This blog details my journey.
WHY GO TO THE TROUBLE?
Writing is thinking. Writing forces you to organize your thoughts, to make mental connections — analyzing what’s worked, and what hasn’t. It forces you to think through your next steps, to reflect on why your experiments succeed and fail. It helps to recognize what you do and don’t know, providing a well-lighted path toward “filling in the gaps.”
No single text or resource completely matches the way you teach. Our class text is a wonderful resource for our students, and I was even lucky enough to serve on the committee which selected the book during my second year in the classroom. It’s accurate and thorough. It aligns nicely to our district outcomes and state standards. But it’s not designed specifically to the course I teach and the method in which I teach it.
Further, students are reluctant to learn and read independently from our text. This is troubling. The most important skill I can teach my students before they leave my classroom and go on to bigger and better things is the ability to teach themselves. Empowering them as learners requires technical reading, critical thinking, and discipline. I struggle with this throughout the entire year, and each year set a goal to extend my students’ independent learning skills through guided inquiry, discovery, and practice. Still, though, in many cases, even with our text, there are gaps.
BRIDGING THE GAPS
I have embarked on a project to create my own online physics resource, tailored specifically to course objectives, with as little extraneous information as possible, and consistent with the methods and organization I use in my classroom. I’m learning and changing every day, so this resource has to be dynamic. Problem solving practice with immediate and constructive feedback should be integrated into every unit. Most importantly, students should learn at their own pace. With a tremendous span of abilities, backgrounds, and learning styles, it’s obvious that one size and speed doesn’t fit all.
Key aspects of this resource, APlusPhysics, include online discussion forums promoting discourse about concepts, applications, and new developments in science; online homework help where students can assist each other (the best way to learn is to teach!); student and educator blogs for learning logs and self reflection; course content distilled down to the “need-to-know” facts with a variety of sample problems, designed specifically to meet course objectives; built-in quizzes to allow students to test their understanding; and resources for physics instructors focusing on student-centered active learning activities.
Many of these resources can be found, in whole or in part, elsewhere on the web. The Physics Classroom is a terrific online resource covering a wide variety of topics in physics; Cramster is a terrific resource for homework help and problem solving; Physics Forums is a terrific bulletin board system discussing physics developments and problems; Castle Learning offers students a tremendous repository for problem solving practice; and of course there are many others.
I’m not trying to rebuild or re-create any of these terrific resources… they all have tremendous potential for the students who take the time to learn and use them productively. However, the learning curve for this expanse of resources can seem insurmountable to the new physics student already exhibiting the classic “deer-in-headlights” shock I’m sure all physics teachers are familiar with. This project is an ongoing method of delivering, refining, and reflecting upon high school physics education.
<p><a href="http://educator.com"><img style="float: right;" title="image.jpeg" src="http://aplusphysics.com/flux/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/image1.jpeg" alt="Image" width="300" height="225" border="0" /></a></p>
<p>Itâ€™s my last day on the west coast following two weeks of recording at the <a href="http://educator.com">Educator.com</a> studios in Los Angeles. Iâ€™ve completed filming of the AP Physics C: Mechanics and the AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism courses, and roughly 18 months ago finished recording the AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 course sequences. At the conclusion of this massive effort, I thought it fitting to take a few minutes and summarize what Iâ€™ve learned from the experience.</p>
<p>First, Iâ€™m amazed at the total amount of content involved in these projects when all was said and done. The AP Physics 1/2 course includes more than 930 slides, and the AP Physics C total is up over 950. Coupled with diagrams, formulas, and illustrations, these represent roughly a yearâ€™s worth of full-time effort, squeezed in to an already busy schedule with early morning work, weekends, and middle-of-the-night canâ€™t sleep sessions.</p>
<p>Second, Iâ€™ve recognized how challenging the content truly is for the AP-C course. I had some of the content prepared already from my APlusPhysics videos, yet it still took me more than 5 months to create the more-detailed Educator.com lessons. I designed each lesson in detail, and even made notes on what I would discuss, derive, and explain on each individual slide. When I reached the studios in LA, however, I still had tons of preparation work to do. Each day I rehearsed every lesson three times before filming. Iâ€™d go over the lessons in detail (including solving all problems and writing out all derivations in my notebook) over an extended dinner each night in the hotel, then go back to my hotel room and do it all again while listening to a baseball game before bed. Early the following morning, Iâ€™d get up around 5 am and go through it once more before our 9- or 10-am filming session would begin. Once filming for the day was complete, Iâ€™d do it all again in preparation for the next set of lessons. I wonder if I didnâ€™t do more physics homework in my two weeks of filming in LA than my students do in an entire year.</p>
<p>I found as I went through this that every time I solved a free response problem or walked through a derivation, I found slightly different methods of solving the problem. Some were smoother than others; some were longer than others. Even though my final passes were usually â€œcleanerâ€ than my initial solutions, I tried to stick with my initial solutions in the videos to better mirror the approach students might take.</p>
<p>Even with all that preparation, the recording sessions were still quite stressful. In walking through the lessons, there were technical components to the presentation that were fairly unforgiving. Hit the wrong button in the wrong order and youâ€™d have to start all over again. Switch colors and then switch slides before writing and youâ€™d have to do it all over again. Cough, sneeze, or forget where you are in a lecture or stump yourself â€” you got it, do it all again. Thankfully, Iâ€™d had quite a bit of experience in this sort of thing from my previous trip out to LA to record the AP-1/2 series, so the amount of â€œre-doâ€ work was kept to a minimum due to all that preparation. But recording four hours of video lessons sure felt like a 12+ hour day.</p>
<p>In addition, I still found the AP-C material challenging. In my classroom, I prepare with 42-minute lessons, and the longest I ever lecture in a row is one entire 42-minute period (and I try to avoid that like the plague). Here, the lessons are straight lecture, with no breaks, no edits, no room for error. That leaves a lot of material to have down cold while also dealing with technical concerns. My detailed noted were invaluable, and I referred to them throughout my lectures to make sure I covered all the salient points in each slide, as well as having calculations pre-solved, as opposed to making viewers wait while I punched numbed into my calculator. With my preparation, my time between lessons was approximately 10 minutes or so to get a quick drink, review the slides for the next lesson for any last-minute issues, and allow the technical folks to prepare the studio for the next round. Others in the studio, however, would take extended time between recording lessons in order to prepare. They had the luxury as they were fairly local to the studios, and could spread their recording work out over months.</p>
<p>Working through these courses from start to finish in such a detailed manner in such a compressed time span provides a unique perspective on the course. Each lesson is designed to present a concept as simply as possible, illustrate that concept, and then demonstrate its application in a variety of scenarios. In creating these courses I solved every released AP-C free response problem going back to 1998, as well as a scattering of earlier problems. With the entire breadth of the course fresh in my mind, Iâ€™m confident the foundational principles emphasized in the course provide excellent preparation for students taking the AP Physics C exams. </p>
<p>One of my goals in creating these courses was to provide a more streamlined video series than their previous video series. Their previous courses totaled 48 hours for mechanics, and 41 hours for electricity and magnetism. My goal was to cut each of those at least in half, allowing students to minimize their time watching videos, and instead maximize their time actively working with the material. I havenâ€™t seen the final count for the new courses, but Iâ€™m confident weâ€™ll be close, if not under, our target.</p>
<p><img style="float: right;" title="uncle_bob_has_a_toupee_hg_clr_st.gif" src="http://aplusphysics.com/flux/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/uncle_bob_has_a_toupee_hg_clr_st.gif" alt="Uncle bob has a toupee hg clr st" width="200" height="350" border="0" /></p>
<p>Iâ€™m also excited that the College Board will be allowing students the use of formula sheets and calculators throughout the entire exam next year. Even after studying and preparing all day every day for weeks, I still referenced my formula sheets and notes in solving problems and preparing. Memorizing formulas does not constitute learning or understanding, and removing the requirement to have all these formulas memorized will allow students to better focus on what is important.</p>
<p>Finally, I knew being gone from my family for two weeks would be difficult. I have a two-year-old and a four-year-old daughter at home, and they are already growing up way too fast. I treasure my time with them, especially our time in the summer when Daddy-Daughter Day Care includes swimming, playing around out back in the sandbox and water table, riding bikes, playground time, and so on. But itâ€™s been even tougher than I expected. Iâ€™m so thankful for modern technology which allows me to see them and talk to them each day, but when your little girls says all she wants is you to curl up in bed with her after story time at night, it tugs on your heart strings something fierce.</p>
<p>Iâ€™m proud of what weâ€™ve put together here at Educator.com through these efforts, and hopeful that students across the world will find these videos helpful in their studies. Iâ€™m also excited to know that I will be able to use these resources with my students in the coming years. Iâ€™m relieved to have finished this project, eager to refocus my efforts on other projects such as revisions to <a href="http://aplusphysics.com/ap1">AP Physics 1 Essentials</a> and completing <a href="http://aplusphysics.com/ap2">AP Physics 2 Essentials</a>, but most importantly, I canâ€™t wait to get home and hug my girls.</p>
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[ATTACH=CONFIG]45[/ATTACH]From NPR: Link Here
A few years ago, physicist Jeff Harvey invited Eduard Antonyan to a game of poker at a friend's house. Antonyan was a graduate student of Harvey's at the time, in the physics department at the University of Chicago.
"I invited Eduard to play because we're always looking for new victims," Harvey tells NPR's Guy Raz. "But it didn't exactly work out that well."
It turned out Antonyan was pretty good.
"He took my money," Harvey says. "We didn't invite him back after that."
Antonyan would eventually find other ways to play. Today he plays online, where he says he hauled in $10,000 on his best night. But what's interesting about Antonyan and Harvey is not how much they win — but why.
Big Game Theory
Science writer Jennifer Ouellette (who was interviewed last year for the Physics In Action Podcast!) is married to a physicist herself. Like Harvey and Antonyan, her husband also plays poker — a connection that piqued her interest.
"At first I thought it was just a fluke," she tells Raz.
But a little research revealed there are a lot of poker-playing physicists, some of whom are pretty serious about the game.
Physicist Michael Binger placed third in the 2006 World Series of Poker, winning $4 million. Two others, Michael Piper and Liv Boeree, competed last spring in a tournament in San Remo, Italy. Piper placed fourth, and Boeree won, racking up $1.6 million. Ouelette's husband, CalTech cosmologist Sean Carroll, entered a Chicago tournament in 2004 and, to his surprise, met three other poker-playing physicists, including Harvey.
In a recent article for Discover Magazine, Ouellette says one reason so many physicists are playing poker — and playing well — is that their brains are particularly attuned to thinking about probability, statistics and modeling. In physics, those things are crucial. And in poker, they just might give you a leg up.
"I mean — when you think about it — they build models of the world," Ouellette says of physicists.
When her husband plays, she says, he's trying to model his opponents based on their style of play — from betting patterns to "tells."
"He's using that to build a model — to predict them a little bit better." That model, Ouellette says, can help physicists make better decisions about their own play.
Not Just Counting Cards
Ouellette says that one reason poker is so intensely complicated — and thus suited for physicists — is that it's largely a game of probability.
"If you think about throwing one die, for example, you've got six possible outcomes," she says.
But add a second die? Suddenly your probabilities are a lot more varied: 36 possible outcomes to be exact.
Now take your model 52 cards, Ouellette says, and you've got more than 2.5 million possible five-card combinations. And if you're playing Texas Hold 'Em — which uses seven cards? Around 133 million combinations.
"The numbers get really big really fast," Ouellette says.
Of course, there's no human brain capable of crunching those numbers mentally. But Ouellette says training in physics does help a player think about complex probability models in a deeper and more realistic way.
Harvey, whose specialty is string theory, says there's another advantage that physicists might hold over their opponents. It's called "tilt" and refers to the way players let emotions get the better of them when things are going badly.
"In physics, you have to be able to sit down and work on a long complicated calculation that may often take you weeks or even a month," he says. And sometimes, physicists have to throw that work out and start again when they realize their calculations are incorrect.
"Being able to deal with extended periods of bad luck or things not going well is something that's also required to be a physicist," Harvey says. "I think there is an element of emotional control that perhaps physicists learn."
Math Folds, Physics Holds
It's been mathematicians, historically, who've held sway at the poker table, Ouellette says.
John von Neumann, the famous Hungarian mathematician and founder of game theory, based his work on two-handed poker.
"He was fascinated by the art of the bluff," Ouellette says. "And he founded game theory based on 'What do I think the other man thinks that I'm going to do?' "
When it comes to physics, she says, mathematicians have done a lot of the groundwork. "Physicists are kind of catching up, and realizing that there's a lot of interesting theory at play here."
And even though you may not have heard of most of the physicists playing poker today — there's one you probably have.
"Einstein actually enjoyed gambling," Ouellette says.
As legend as it, the father of relativity loved to play craps and blackjack in Las Vegas, where he once met Nick the Greek, one of the greatest poker players of all time.
"Nick introduced him to all his gambling buddies — knowing that they wouldn't know who Einstein was — as 'Little Al from Princeton, controls a lot of the action around Jersey.' "
From New Scientist Magazine
A BALL spinning in a vacuum should never slow down, since no outside forces are acting on it. At least that's what Newton would have said. But what if the vacuum itself creates a type of friction that puts the brakes on spinning objects? The effect, which might soon be detectable, could act on interstellar dust grains.
In quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle says we can never be sure that an apparent vacuum is truly empty. Instead, space is fizzing with photons that are constantly popping into and out of existence before they can be measured directly. Even though they appear only fleetingly, these "virtual" photons exert the same electromagnetic forces on the objects they encounter as normal photons do.
Now, Alejandro Manjavacas and F. Javier García de Abajo of the Institute of Optics at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid say these forces should slow down spinning objects. Just as a head-on collision packs a bigger punch than a tap between two cars one behind the other, a virtual photon hitting an object in the direction opposite to its spin collides with greater force than if it hits in the same direction.
So over time, a spinning object will gradually slow down, even if equal numbers of virtual photons bombard it from all sides. The rotational energy it loses is then emitted as real, detectable photons (Physical Review A, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.82.063827).
The strength of the effect depends on the object's make-up and size. Objects whose electronic properties prevent them from easily absorbing electromagnetic waves, such as gold, may decelerate little or not at all. But small, low-density particles, which have less rotational momentum, slow down dramatically.
The rate of deceleration also depends on temperature, since the hotter it is the more virtual photons pop in and out of existence, producing the friction. At room temperature, a 100-nanometre-wide grain of graphite, the kind that is abundant in interstellar dust, would take about 10 years to slow to about one-third of its initial speed. At 700 °C, an average temperature for hot areas of the universe, that same speed decrease would take only 90 days. In the cold of interstellar space, it would take 2.7 million years.
Could this effect be tested in the lab? Manjavacas says the experiment would require an ultra-high vacuum and high-precision lasers to trap the nanoparticles, conditions that are "demanding but reachable in the foreseeable future".
John Pendry of Imperial College in London calls the analysis a "fine piece of work" and says it could provide insights into whether quantum information is ever destroyed, for example, when it falls into a black hole. He says the real photons emitted during the deceleration process should contain information about the quantum state of the spinning particle, much as the photons thought to escape from black holes as Hawking radiation are thought to encode information about the holes.
"This is one of the few elementary processes that converts what appears to be purely classical mechanical energy into a highly correlated quantum state," Pendry says.
Read full article here...
<p>It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten a good reflection up here. I’ve been swamped finishing up the <a href="http://aplusphysics.com/ap1">AP Physics 1 Essentials</a> book, getting it converted to all the various formats (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, etc.), while simultaneously continuing work on the interactive iPad version. As these projects are slowly beginning to conclude, I’ve been working on a presentation for the STANYS 2013 (Science Teachers Association of New York State) conference here in Rochester, NY. My presentation is on Utilizing Technology to Support Differentiated Learning, where I take a quick look at three strategies all designed to promote independent learning in students while providing opportunity for those students to self-differentiate by skill level in specific areas as well as interest.</p>
<p>Since one of the three strategies involved flipping the classroom (along with self instruction and blogging), it seemed only right that I make a “flipped class video” version of the presentation. I’m still massaging the presentation, but here’s the first take:</p>
<p><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/DqdNzb0JelA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p>
<p><iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gqf-414P-is" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p>
<!-- Start Shareaholic Recommendations Automatic --><!-- End Shareaholic Recommendations Automatic --><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/PhysicsInFlux/~4/uoWE28hvCiM" height="1" width="1"/>
If you don't get an option to upload an image file from your computer when you attempt to insert an image into your posts, you can enable this in the following way:
Go to Settings > General Settings and set Message Editor Interface to "Show Enhanced (WYSIWYG) Editor."
Next time you attempt to upload an image by clicking on the "Insert Image" button ([ATTACH=CONFIG]41[/ATTACH]), you should be given the option of uploading a file directly!
[ATTACH=CONFIG]144[/ATTACH]For those anticipating the upcoming Regents Physics exam on June 15th, APlusPhysics: Your Guide to Regents Physics Essentials is a book designed to give you everything you need to score well on the exam in a simple, easy-to-read manner. Filled with sample problems and full solutions, the book is now only $10.07 from Amazon!
In his Dec. 17 Action-Reaction blog post titled "Falling Rolls," one of my heroes of physics instruction, Frank Noschese, details an exercise from Robert Ehrlich's book Why Toast Lands Jelly-Side Down.
The exercise, a rotational motion problem that challenges students to find the ratio of heights at which you can drop two identical toilet paper rolls, one dropped regularly, the other dropped by holding onto the end of the paper and letting it unroll, such that the two rolls hit the ground at the same time. It's a terrific, easy-to-replicate and demonstrate problem that pulls together a great number of rotational motion skills --> finding the moment of inertia, applying the parallel-axis theorem, identifying forces and torques from free body diagrams, and converting angular acceleration to linear acceleration. My students dove into the challenge with zest!
To begin the exercise, we set our variables (H=height for dropped roll, h=height for unrolled roll, r = inner diameter, R = outer diameter), then identified the time it takes for the dropped roll to hit the ground using standard kinematics:
Next, we did the same thing for the unrolling toilet paper roll:
Of course, if we want them to hit at the same time, the times must be equal, therefore we can show:
Obviously, what we really need to focus our efforts on is finding the linear acceleration of the unrolling roll. To save ourselves some time, we started by looking up the moment of inertia for a cylinder:
Using the parallel-axis theorem to account for the unrolled roll rotating about its outer radius we find:
Next, we can use a free body diagram to identify the net torque on the roll as MgR, and use Newton's 2nd Law for Rotational Motion to find the angular acceleration:
Since linear acceleration can be found from angular acceleration multiplied by the radius of rotation ®:
Finally, since we're looking for the ratio of the dropped height to the unrolled height:
This conflicts with the results from Noschese's class, where they derived
However, their demonstration based on their results is very convincing. Let's take a look at the difference in ratios using the two derivations:
For a toilet paper roll of inner diameter .0095m and outer diameter R=.035m (our school rolls from the janitor supply closet):
It appears that our derivation is correct, per our visual confirmation with a high speed video camera:
You can follow the original blog response at Physics In Flux.
<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="NewImage.png" src="http://aplusphysics.com/wordpress/apc/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/NewImage2.png"alt="NewImage" width="600" height="372" border="0" /></p>
<h3 class="null" style="color: #606060; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; font-size: 18px; line-height: 22.4999980926514px; letter-spacing: -0.5px;">At the beginning of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein changed the way we think about time. Near the end of the twentieth century scientists learned how to cool a gas of atoms to temperatures billions of times lower than anything else in the universe. </p>
<p>Now, in the 21<sup>st</sup> century, Einsteinâ€™s thinking and ultracold atoms are shaping the development of atomic clocks, the best timekeepers ever made. Such super-accurate clocks are essential to industry, commerce, and science. They are the heart of the Global Positioning System (GPS) that guides cars, airplanes, and hikers to their destinations. </p>
<p>Today, the best primary atomic clocks use ultracold atoms, achieve accuracies better than a second in 300 million years, and are getting better all the time. Super-cold atoms, with temperatures that can be below a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, allow tests of some of Einsteinâ€™s strangest predictions. <br /> <br />Join Dr. Phillips for be a lively, multimedia presentationâ€”including experimental demonstrations and down-to-earth explanations about some of todayâ€™s most exciting science.</h3>
<p><br style="color: #606060; font-size: 15px; line-height: 22.5px;" /><span style="color: #606060; line-height: 22.5px; font-size: 14px;">Dr. William D. Phillips is the leader of the Laser Cooling and Trapping Group of the National Institute for Standards and Technologyâ€™s Physical Measurement Laboratoryâ€”and also a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland. Dr. Phillipsâ€™s research group studies the physics of ultracold atomic gases. In 1997, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics â€œfor development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.â€</span></p>
<p><span style="color: #606060; line-height: 22.5px; font-size: 14px;"><br /></span></p>
<p><span style="color: #606060; line-height: 22.5px; font-size: 14px;">March 5 at 7 pm at the Student Alumni Union, Ingle Auditorium, Rochester Institute of Technology</span></p>
<img src="//feeds.feedburner.com/~r/PhysicsInFlux/~4/4CjrjEbM9ec" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
<a href="http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/PhysicsInFlux/~3/4CjrjEbM9ec/"class='bbc_url' rel='nofollow external'>Source</a>
I took a brief stab at estimating the cost of 4 credit hours worth of freshman physics (assuming a 16-credit-hour load) at a number of institutions for a semester course to help illustrate the value of taking AP Physics in high school. These values are quick estimations and are not guaranteed in any way for validity or accuracy. For better information, please feel free to make your own comparisons.
So last year I took every single question from the last 17 NY Regents Physics exams, organized them by topic, and printed them neatly into worksheet / workbook formats for myself and others to use. They've been pretty popular, but have also been a fairly high maintenance item, as I have been receiving at least 10-15 e-mails per week about the worksheets. Some requests have come from teachers asking if I have created an answer sheet to go with them. Other requests have been from students looking to check their answers. Some have even been from students posing as instructors attempting to find the answers to the worksheets. But far and away, the most popular question has centered around whether I might offer a print version of the worksheets.
It's taken awhile, but I've finally cleaned up all the sheets, arranged them into a workbook format, solved every single problem, added answer sheets, and sent them off for publication. The result -- yesterday, The Ultimate Regents Physics Question and Answer Book was released.
I'm planning on leaving the individual worksheets available for download on the APlusPhysics site -- the book is merely provided as a convenience for those who'd rather have a hard copy, bound compendium of all the worksheets, with the answers included. Because these sheets are also popular as homework assignments, quizzes, etc., I don't plan on posting the answer sheets publicly… that's just making things a little too easy for students hoping to avoid productive work. The list price on the book is $11.99, which (typically) Amazon discounts within a few weeks of publication. I think that's a reasonable price for a resource that took me many, many hours to compile, with the goal of hopefully recouping the costs required to publish the book within a year or so if all goes well.
Having said that, last night I received a troubling e-mail. Before even one copy had sold, I received a request asking if I would donate copies of the workbook to cover an entire physics course at a school. Now, I understand there's no harm in asking, so I politely responded that the cost for any donated/promotional copies come directly out of the pocket of a high school teacher (me), and that the entire content was already available for download and printing direct from the APlusPhysics website. The follow-up, however, left me troubled. The response stated that the copies were for an inner city school and therefore computers and Internet access to download and print the files wasn't reasonable.
Maybe I'm being naive, but I have trouble believing that there are school districts (and individual schools) that are SO poor that there isn't a single computer with an Internet connection anywhere in the school. Or let's say that there aren't ANY computers in the school -- how can not one teacher have access to a computer and Internet to obtain the files on their own time? And in what world is it reasonable that I should pick up the costs to print and ship a volume of copies to a school where they can't find a way to download and print freely available files (which I also pay to host)?
Rant ended. I'm more than happy to give away a ton of my work (and time) for free, but there are some costs associated with making these resources available. The software to create the site, the hosting fees, publication costs, licensing costs, etc. Almost all of the content in the books is already freely available on the site for educational use, and I LOVE when folks make use of these resources. But, the reality is that all of these things have some cost, and if I want to continue to build a terrific physics resource for our students, a few of the items on the site have to generate enough income to cover the costs of the site.
Now, with that out of the way, I'm excited to be diving into the next project at full speed -- review / guide books for the new AP-1 and AP-2 courses. Background work / development has been going on for over a year, and, if all goes as planned, the first draft should be underway within a couple weeks!!!!!
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