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14. Cataracts, Cameras and (CERN) Competitions

Thomas and Robin respond to a request from a listener and investigate the BL4S Competition run by CERN. Win an all expenses trip to a high energy beam lab where you will be supported to do your own experiment. They also announce the subject of the next “Ways to teach…” episode: Distance, Speed and Acceleration.

TimeStamps

  • Cataracts @ 00:58
  • Cameras that (don’t) see round corners @ 2:20
  • LSST and its huge camera @ 3:40
  • Beam Line for Schools (BL4S) Intro @ 5:12
  • BL4S @ 6:03
  • The next “Ways to teach…” Episode (Distance, speed and acceleration) @ 19:04

Summary

Robin describes a Camera that (doesn’t) see round corners. It was published in nature (PayWall) but The Guardian has a nice summary. The LSST 3,200 megapixel camera is being built in Chile (it turns out it is well under way, and not really news, but is still really impressive). The CERN Beam Line for Schools (BL4S) competition is the main focus this week in response to a tweet from @teachingofsci. Thomas chats with Prof. Pete Watkins and Dr Elizabeth Cunningham about the competition. The BL4S web site is a mine of useful information, including previous entry videos, previous winners’ 1,000 word proposals and ideas to get you started. Finally Robin introduces the next “Ways to teach…” Episode: Distance, Speed and Acceleration.

Ways to teach… Distance, Speed and Acceleration

Episode 20 (assuming we make it) will be all about ways to teach distance, speed and acceleration (or displacement, velocity and acceleration). How do you do it and what works best for you?

Please share ideas or successes on our Facebook Page – https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode. Please do leave a voice memo: Thomas thinks nobody loves him.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus.

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13. Lasers, Labs and a Large(r) hadron collider

Thomas and Robin had such fun talking to Patrick Kaplo (Episode 11) from Windham, New Hampshire that we talked to him again about his Challenge Labs. These are graded practicals where there is a one-shot event at the end of the practical that gives you your final grade. You can listen to how this works in an optics lab… err… practical in this episode or rewind to episode 11 for the sliced pendulum experiment.

Time Stamps

  • CERN Plans @ 00:20
  • Thomas uses Podcast ideas in his lesson @ @ 2:57
  • Challenge Practicals @ 6:48
  • Formative Feedback @ 9:53
  • Refractive Index based Challenge Lab @ 11:15
  • Post interview chat 19:40

Summary

Size isn’t everything, but no-one told CERN: they’ve announced designs for the next generation collider. Thomas and Robin are looking forward to find out just a little bit more about the Big Bang and the nature of matter. Thomas celebrated an inaugural ‘podcast day’ when in the same day he used the electric motors, mystery tubes and Perimeter Institute resources ( ‘Bubble Chamber Detective’) from previous episodes.

Friend of the Podcast Patrick Kaplow returns to be embarrassed by Robin’s hero-worship. Never has anyone been audibly grateful for thousands of miles of ocean. Patrick tells us about “Challenge Labs”, where there is a one shot answer that gives you your grade. He goes on to describe a simple refraction/reflection experiment to test students’ understanding where the grade is determined by a one shot attempt at predicting a laser beam’s path through a prism.

A brief caution: don’t forget to check with CLEAPSS (or your local Health and Safety body) that any Laser pens or cheap lasers are safe to use.

Please share ideas or successes on our Facebook Page – https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode. Please do leave a voice memo: Thomas thinks nobody loves him.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus.

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12. Shrink-Rays, Spectrum and String…

Thomas and Robin discuss why – when they are less likely than a podcast from the gym in January – media are still obsessed with Shrink Rays and mysterious (not Alien) Space signals. They soon move onto far more entertaining matters as they talk about teaching the EM Spectrum. Thomas tells us about his lovely “How long is a piece of String?” lesson. One of Robin’s favourites, it’s a great way of engaging reluctant students in the exploration of measurement, errors and uncertainty.

Time STamps

  • (not) Shrink Ray @ 2:50
  • Signals from Deep Space @ 4:50
  • Electromagnetic Spectrum @ 6:37
  • How Long is a piece of string? @ 14:18

Summary

It’s not a Shrink Ray: this is published in Science Magazine, but theengineer.co.uk is a bit more accessible. Remember to tell us your examples of how putting “Laser” on the front of everything makes the students think anything is better. Whys is any signal from space immediately attributed to Aliens? The BBC should know better. Helen CK’s question on Facebook about how to teach the Electromagnetic Spectrum finally gets addressed. (Sorry for the delay, Helen!) Your ideas will be bigger and better than ours so please share. Equally, if there’s something you want to throw open to the community, just let us know (twitter, contact form, instagram). If you find your students reluctant to engage with uncertainty and measurement, then you will love Thomas’s “how long is a piece of string?” practical.

The EM Spectrum

Helen CK contacted us long ago asking for ways to teach the e-m spectrum. Thomas and Robin chatted about how they would teach it. Thomas from the future visits to remind them that the Electromagnetic Spectrum song by Emerson Foo and Wong Yann is not to be missed (below). N.B. Take care with this song because there are some spurious ones set up in YouTube to fool and embarrass unwary teachers. Thomas mentioned “any number of Doppler effect videos on YouTube”, this is a good one.

Please share ideas or successes on our Facebook Page – https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus.

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11. Poppers, Pendulums and Pond-hopping

The days are getting longer, and the monster Christmas term is behind us. Thomas and Robin refuse to let January blues dull the joy of physics teaching as they kick 2019 off with a cracker (pun intended). Two kinematic experiments are the focus, one using a pop-up toy and one that needs fire and blades.

Thomas and Robin also mourn those long-forgotten pieces of equipment buried in obscurity at the back of the cupboard. Please don’t leave them there to fester. If you have a piece of equipment you are unsure about, why not send us a photo by email or post about it in the forum, and do head that way if you want to talk about the episode, or anything else in Physics Teaching. 

Robin started the new year with a series of panic attacks after hearing about practicals that are both fun and difficult. The anxiety was only compounded by assertion that practicals can be graded, and don’t always evidence progress! He is currently recovering with the help of a Valium prescription and a copy of OFSTED’s annual report.

How great was it to hear from New Hampshire this week? Thanks so much to Patrick Kaplo from Windham High School for telling us about physic teaching in New England and giving us a practical in memoriam. Patrick joins our growing list of podcast heroes, not least because of this quote from the New Hampshire State Education Dept: ” Mr. Kaplo drives engagement in his classes by asking his students to build six foot tall trebuchets, ride CO2[sic]-powered fire extinguisher rocket carts… fire vacuum-powered ping-pong balls over 400 MPH, and visualize wave phenomena in an 8-foot long fire tube…”. As they might say in the States, we are totally getting him back again!

Robin has been trying to avoid cultural references that befuddle Thomas, but when he exclaimed “Jurassic Park!” he probably confused everyone. Anyway, this youtube video might help. For the record, Robin is much more like Alan Partridge than Thomas… in fact he’s more like Alan Partridge than Alan Partridge.

Success!

We start 2019 with the usual plea to share ideas or successes on our Facebook Page – https://fb.me/physicstp .  You can also message us via our website contact form at the.physicsteachingpodcast.com, Twitter @physicstp, email using  the address given in the podcast (if we remember) or by leaving a voice memo using WhatsApp or Telegram to the phone number in our Twitter profile, +44 7898 814716 (don’t call the number, nobody will answer, just hold down the microphone icon and speak your message). Don’t forget to tell us your name because we may use your audio in a future episode.

The music we use remains One legged equilibrist polka by Circus Homunculus.

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