Physics Videos Posted #flipclass #physicsed #edtech

Man behind studio camera hg clr

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated my blog, but with good reason.  Starting roughly two years ago June, I began work to create short overview videos of all major topics covered by the NY Regents Curriculum.  Last night, 87 videos later, they were finally complete (  But allow me to explain further.

These are not meant to replace in-class instruction, or act as a substitute for reading the textbook, or supersede much more effective active learning techniques.  However, for the student who has to miss many days of school, or feels overwhelmed and would like the key concepts distilled down into the very basics, or wants a quick refresher before an exam, they can be a resource of great value.  I strongly believe in video instruction, but not in the vein of Khan Academy or others, in which video lectures take the place of quality instruction, but rather as additional resources to assist students in building a more complete understanding of the topic being explored.

Further, I am hopeful these will be of benefit to readers of my book “Regents Physics Essentials.”  Sometimes seeing sample problems walked through can be infinitely more valuable than reading a solution in a book.  I have also posted the videos on Youtube, and have received a very positive response through some 30,000 views.

So if you thought I’d dropped off the face of the Earth… no such luck.  Still here, I was just focusing on completing the videos before the next big event in my saga’s family — birth of baby girl #2 is imminent at any moment!

For those who have been wondering what comes next from an APlusPhysics perspective, here are a few of the projects I have on the docket:

  • Creating a set of PDF problem sheets for each unit in Regents Physics Essentials
  • Creating a video guide explaining how we use the APlusPhysics system for personalized, differentiated review
  • Converting Regents Physics Essentials into an iBooks2 interactive textbook format
  • Optimizing / Cleaning Up the Semiconductor Technology Enrichment Program (STEP) materials
  • And eventually, I want to try my hand at a speculative fiction novel (been planning for almost a year now!)

Best wishes to all, and thank you for your patience and understanding.  Make it a great day!

Summer is Over – Projects Done and Undone

Well, it’s back to school tomorrow and, like each summer, I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I had hoped, but probably accomplished more than I should have expected.

I had a chance to meet and network with a number of physics teachers in the area, making some new friends in the process.  I spent quality time with my daughter, including a trip to Sesame Place outside of Philadelphia, a family reunion at my folks’ riverhouse, and quite a few fun days at the zoo.  I taught a few classes at RIT, worked with Rochester City School District teachers on developing and training in Problem-Based Learning (PBL), and even found a few spare moments to read purely for entertainment!

One of my major goals this summer was to get a good start on the “Honors Physics” book. Last spring when APlusPhysics: Your Guide to Regents Physics Essentials came out, I received lots of great feedback, especially from students, but also heard from a number of physics teachers in other states asking about a version of the text that wasn’t limited to the NY Regents curriculum, but was generalized for a typical Honors Physics class.

Initially I had planned this follow-on book to be a guidebook for the AP-1 program when the AP-B course was split, but after several years of fuzzy timelines and fuzzier details, I decided to start on the physics review book I had initially wanted to write. Taking input from those who were kind enough to give me feedback, as well as targeting the book as a rough attempt at hitting the AP-1 targets with what tentative details I could scrounge from the powers that be, I finished my outline up in the spring.

What I found, however, was that this undertaking was considerably slower than the Regents review book. Why, you might ask? Well, to begin with, the Regents Physics curriculum is a “minimum” aptitude test, in my opinion, which makes it fairly shallow. Further, the test is well established and in the public domain, providing oodles and oodles of questions to pull from, both for tailoring of instruction, as well as for inclusion of examples. Finally, after having taught 10 Regents Physics sections in the past three years, I don’t think it would be a stretch to state that I could recite the curriculum in my sleep.

Migrating to the new book, I have the distinct advantage of starting with the baseline material from Regents Physics Essentials. However, the outline I’ve written significantly expands the scope of the course, with the goal of providing Honors Physics instructors the ability to pick and choose chapters and sections to fit their courses. This has led to many, many hours scouring the Internet for state and district standards both near and far; discussions with physics teachers across the country about what they want from such a book, what they don’t, and some hard decisions about what compromises and cuts have to be made to provide a resource that will be of the greatest value to the greatest number, while maintaining my personal goals for the book as well as keeping the page count in check so as to maintain an acceptable price point. Of course, I’d love to keep everything, but the problem with a 700-page review book is three-fold: first, the cost becomes prohibitive; second, students won’t read it; and third, that’s starting to move into textbook territory, and there are already many terrific physics texts available for this level.

But, I’m proud to state that the first draft of the review book is coming along fine, with more than 200 pages in fairly strong shape.  I’ve been spending a lot of time working on rotational motion, attempting to streamline basic concepts such as rotational kinematics and torque in a way that follows logically and highlights the parallels of translational motion, without getting bogged down in confusing terminology and unnecessary depth.  This should nearly complete the mechanics section of the text.

I’ve also done initial work on some of the additional chapters, such as fluid mechanics, thermal physics, semiconductors, and cosmology.  Besides initial outlines and some basic illustrations, I’ve been especially focused on the semiconductor chapter… not many introductory courses go into semiconductors, and I’m thrilled at the opportunity and challenge of providing basic semiconductor physics review at this level, consistent with the work I was involved in a few years ago developing the Semiconductor Technology Enrichment Program (STEP) with Rochester Institute of Technology’s Microelectronic Engineering Department.

So, as school starts up again, progress in the writing department will, of necessity, slow down.  I’m excited to meet this year’s class of students, jump into Skills-Based Grading (SBG) for the first time, utilize a number of short videos for concept review, increase the amount of inquiry in my classroom, reduce the amount of lecture time, learn more about physics modeling, and on and on and on.  But I’m setting aside specific time each morning to keep working on the book project, and I continue to value whatever input and guidance you can provide in this endeavor.  And, of course, the website continues to grow — tutorials, videos, projects, forums, and blogs are all ongoing projects!

Thanks for the continued support, and best wishes to you on an amazing 2011-2012 school year!

Regents Physics #SBG Objectives 2011-2012 #sbar #physicsed

Been hammering out our Skills-Based Grading (SBG) objectives for Regents Physics for the coming school year, pulling from the tremendous efforts already in place and utilized by folks such as Frank Noschese, Kelly O’Shea, and others, as well as our state and district standards.  In defining these, we were conflicted about how detailed and specific to make our goals, providing students more concrete feedback on their objectives, compared to more general objectives that allow for more interpretation and generalization of the “big picture” concepts.

businessman_good_pointing_lg_wht Eventually, we settled on a fairly specific list of concrete objectives in an effort to provide students specific information on what they need to do well on the end-of-year state culminating exam.  These are absolute minimum baseline standards, provided with the strong understanding that these baseline objectives will be augmented throughout the year as we teach significantly above and beyond the state minimums.  For example, our current list of magnetism objectives is quite limited, and will most certainly grow in individual classrooms as all our physics classes spend significantly more time on electromagnetic induction than is required to meet the state minimums.

With this large number of objectives, assessment and feedback could become quite involved, which is where our implementation of Gravic Remark OMR will be of tremendous benefit in streamlining assessment on a specific type of standardized exam.  Of course, we’ll still have our hands full with more authentic assessments, student-initiated assessments, labs, activities, etc., but it’s a start, and of course, we can always adjust as the year progresses.

Here’s our first pass rough draft:

Math Review


  • MAT.A1 I understand and can estimate basic SI units
  • MAT.A2 I can convert basic SI units using common metric prefixes
  • MAT.A3 I can convert compound SI units
  • MAT.B1 I know the difference between scalar and vector quantities
  • MAT.B2 I can use scaled diagrams to represent and manipulate vector quantities
  • MAT.B3 I can determine x- and y-components of two-dimensional vectors
  • MAT.B4 I can determine the angle of a vector given its components
  • MAT.C1 I can draw accurate graphs and solve for the slope and y-intercept
  • MAT.C2 I can recognize linear and direct relationships and interpret the slope of a curve
  • MAT.C3 I can recognize quadratic and inverse relationships
  • MAT.D1 I can solve algebraic equations symbolically and numerically
  • MAT.D2 I can utilize the Pythagorean Theorem to solve problems involving right triangles
  • MAT.D3 I can utilize basic trigonometric identities to solve for sides and angles of right triangles
  • MAT.E1 I can use my calculator to solve algebraic equations with exponents
  • MAT.E2 I can use scientific notation and significant figures effectively

General Skills


  • GEN.A1 I can design a reliable experiment that tests a hypothesis, investigates a phenomenon, or solves a problem
  • GEN.A2 I can communicate the details of an experiment clearly and completely with a formal lab report
  • GEN.A3 I can record, analyze, and represent data in a meaningful way
  • GEN.A4 I can identify sources of uncertainty and error
  • GEN.B1 I can solve problems using the FSA format
  • GEN.C1 I can properly utilize a metric ruler, meter stick, protractor, mass balance and stopwatch
  • GEN.D1 I can use writing to clearly and constructively communicate my thoughts to others using proper grammar, spelling, organization, and punctuation
  • GEN.D2 I can use technology effectively and appropriately to further my learning
  • GEN.D3 I can engage in constructive and responsible discourse in both small and large group environments

Constant Velocity Motion


  • VEL.A1 I know the difference between position, distance and displacement
  • VEL.A2 I can calculate both distance and displacement
  • VEL.B1 I know the difference between average speed and velocity, and instantaneous speed and  velocity
  • VEL.B2 I can solve problems involving average speed and velocity, and instantaneous speed and velocity
  • VEL.C1 I can interpret/draw motion diagrams for objects moving at constant velocity
  • VEL.C2 I can interpret/draw d-t and v-t graphs for objects moving at constant velocity

Constant Acceleration Motion


  • ACC.A1 I can define acceleration and I know the difference between acceleration and velocity
  • ACC.A2 I can calculate acceleration with both direction and proper units
  • ACC.B1 I can interpret/draw motion diagrams for objects moving with changing velocity
  • ACC.B2 I can interpret/draw d-t, v-t, and a-t graphs for objects moving with changing velocity
  • ACC.C1 I can use kinematic equations to solve problems involving objects with changing velocity
  • ACC.C2 I can use kinematic equations to solve problems involving objects in free fall
  • ACC.D1 I understand that the vertical and horizontal motions of a projectile are independent of one another
  • ACC.D2 I can solve problems involving projectile motion for projectiles fired horizontally
  • ACC.D3 I can solve problems involving projectile motion for projectiles fired at an angle



  • DYN.A1 I understand Newton’s 1st Law of Motion and can define mass and inertia
  • DYN.B1 I know the relationship between acceleration, force, and mass (N2)
  • DYN.B2 I can draw a properly labeled free body diagram showing all forces acting on an object
  • DYN.B3 I understand the relationship between the weight and mass of an object.
  • DYN.B4 I can determine unknown forces, accelerations, etc.
  • DYN.C1 I understand the meaning of Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion
  • DYN.C2 I can recognize and identify force pairs
  • DYN.D1 I can define and identify frictional forces
  • DYN.D2 I know the factors that determine the amount of static/kinetic friction between two surfaces
  • DYN.D3 I can determine the frictional force and coefficient of friction between two surfaces
  • DYN.E1 I can calculate the parallel and perpendicular components of an object’s weight to solve ramp problems

UCM & Gravity


  • UCM.A1 I can explain and calculate the acceleration of an object moving in a circle at a constant speed
  • UCM.A2 I can define centripetal force and recognize that it is provided by forces such as tension, gravity, and friction
  • UCM.A3 I can solve problems involving calculation of centripetal force
  • UCM.A4 I can calculate the speed, period, frequency, and distance traveled for an object moving in a circle at constant speed
  • UCM.B1 I can state and apply Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation
  • UCM.B2 I know how mass and separation distance affects the strength of the gravitational force between two objects

Momentum and Impulse


  • MOM.A1 I can define and calculate the momentum of an object
  • MOM.A2 I can determine the impulse given to an object
  • MOM.A3 I can use impulse to solve a variety of problems
  • MOM.A4 I can interpret and use F vs t graphs
  • MOM.B1 I can apply conservation of momentum using momentum tables to solve a variety of problems
  • MOM.C1 I can distinguish between elastic and inelastic collisions

Work, Energy, and Power


  • WEP.A1 I can define and calculate the work done by a force
  • WEP.A2 I can calculate the kinetic energy of a moving object
  • WEP.A3 I can calculate the gravitational potential energy of an object
  • WEP.B1 I can solve problems using the law of conservation of energy
  • WEP.B2 I can solve problems using the work-energy theorem
  • WEP.C1 I can calculate the power of a system
  • WEP.D1 I can utilize Hooke’s Law to determine the elastic force on an object
  • WEP.D2 I can calculate a system’s elastic potential energy



  • ELE.A1 I understand and can calculate the charge on an object
  • ELE.A2 I can describe the differences between conductors and insulators
  • ELE.A3 I can explain the difference between conduction and induction
  • ELE.A4 I understand how an electroscope works
  • ELE.A5 I can use the law of conservation of charge to solve problems
  • ELE.B1 I can use Coulomb’s Law to solve problems related to electrical force
  • ELE.B2 I can compare and contrast Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation with Coulomb’s Law
  • ELE.C1 I can define, measure, and calculate an electric field
  • ELE.C2 I can solve problems related to charge, electric field, and forces
  • ELE.D1 I can define and calculate electric potential energy
  • ELE.D2 I can define and calculate electric potential difference (voltage)
  • ELE.D3 I can solve basic parallel-plate capacitor problems



  • CIR.A1 I can define and calculate an electric current
  • CIR.A2 I can define and calculate resistance using Ohm’s Law
  • CIR.A3 I can explain the factors and calculate the resistance of a conductor
  • CIR.B1 I can identify the path and direction of current flow in a circuit
  • CIR.B2 I can draw and interpret schematic diagrams of circuits
  • CIR.B3 I can use voltmeters and ammeters effectively
  • CIR.C1 I can calculate the equivalent resistance for resistors in series
  • CIR.C2 I can solve series circuits problems using VIRP tables
  • CIR.D1 I can calculate the equivalent resistance for resistors in parallel
  • CIR.D2 I can solve parallel circuit problems using VIRP tables
  • CIR.E1 I can define power in electric circuits
  • CIR.E2 I can calculate power and energy used in circuits



  • MAG.A1 I understand that magnetism is caused by moving charges
  • MAG.A2 I can describe the magnetic poles and interactions between magnets
  • MAG.A3 I can draw magnetic field lines for a magnet
  • MAG.B1 I can describe the factors affecting an induced potential difference due to magnetic fields lines interacting with moving charges



  • WAV.A1 I can define a pulse and a wave
  • WAV.A2 I understand the difference between a mechanical and an EM wave
  • WAV.A3 I understand the difference between a longitudinal and transverse wave
  • WAV.A4 I understand the relationship between wave characteristics such as frequency, period, amplitude, wavelength, and velocity
  • WAV.B1 I can utilize the superposition principle to analyze constructive and destructive wave interference
  • WAV.B2 I understand and can predict the result of the Doppler Effect
  • WAV.B3 I can recognize standing waves and explain nodes, antinodes, and resonance
  • WAV.C1 I can apply the law of reflection to plane surfaces
  • WAV.C2 I can explain the cause and result of refraction of waves
  • WAV.C3 I can utilize Snell’s Law to solve problems involving wave refraction
  • WAV.D1 I understand the principle of diffraction and can identify its effects qualitatively
  • WAV.E1 I recognize characteristics of EM waves and can determine the type of EM wave based on its characteristics

Modern Physics


  • MOD.A1 I can explain the wave-particle duality of light
  • MOD.A2 I can calculate the energy of a photon from its wave characteristics
  • MOD.A3 I can calculate the energy of an absorbed or emitted photon from an energy level diagram
  • MOD.A4 I can explain the quantum nature of atomic energy levels
  • MOD.A5 I can explain the Rutherford and Bohr models of the atom
  • MOD.B1 I can explain the universal conservation laws (mass-energy, charge, momentum)
  • MOD.B2 I recognize the fundamental source of all energy in the universe is the conversion of mass into energy
  • MOD.B3 I understand the mass-energy equivalence equation (E=mc^2)
  • MOD.C1 I can explain how the nucleus is a conglomeration of quarks which combine to form protons and neutrons
  • MOD.C2 I understand that each elementary particle has a corresponding anti-particle
  • MOD.C3 I can use the Standard Model diagrams to answer basic particle physics questions
  • MOD.D1 I can define the known fundamental forces in the universe and can rank them in order of relative strength