20. Ways to teach… Displacement, Velocity and Acceleration

The second “Ways to Teach” episode where we channel tips from our wonderfully generous contributors.  Teachers of Physics are heroes as we never tire of saying, and they have been so generous with their time, sharing a wealth of wisdom on helping students get to grips with displacement, velocity and acceleration.  

Timestamps

  • Vacuum cannon back in stock (and new t-shirts) @ 01:38
  • General advice on teaching displacement, velocity and acceleration @ 2:56
  • Measuring real things in the real World @ 07:56
  • Using an ultrasound displacement sensor @ 22:15
  • Data on real things in the real World/ worksheets @ 23:57
  • Maps and treasure hunts @ 25:18
  • Simulations @ 31:01
  • Videos @ 34:50
  • Plenary Yoga @ 36:05

Summary

Thomas announces that there is a new t-shirt design and the vacuum cannon is back in stock. Thomas and Robin chat about the suggestions sent in by Physic teachers on how they teach displacement, velocity and acceleration. After a few tips they break the suggestions down in to:

Blue toy car
Not constant velocity car, but close enough
  • Measuring Real Things in the Real World: toy cars, woodlice, the teacher, the students…
  • Live graphs with an ultrasonic position sensor
  • Using data from the real World. e.g. The Usain Bolt vs Stephen Hawking PowerPoint.
  • Simulations and sensors: Simulations such as echalk.co.uk, the PhET moving man and the Universe and More are all useful. PhyPhox is a really useful app for exposing the sensors on your phone.
  • Maps and Treasure Hunts: google maps allows you to measure distances if you right click.
  • Videos: e.g. the ISS video below
  • Yoga.

Here are some more details:

  • Use x for position and Δx for displacement instead of d and s which are confusing (thanks @PhysGal)
  • USE GRAPHS A LOT!! – thanks to Paul Reynolds, Imogen, Matt Harding and others – all graphs tell a story (chocolate versus happiness etc), Dan Twomey leaves the numbers out of it until later so that the shape of the graph is discussed first 
  • Explicit teaching of “per” “÷” and “/” all being the same – Tom Norris star of episode 19 and don’t use formula triangles – controversial – may be a last resort for kids as they approach their exam. 
  • Most popular – measuring real things in the real world – constant-velocity cars, woodlice, students on the athletics track all help students to relate real-world motion to the graph story.  There are loads of good descriptions in the podcast and I guarantee you’ll hear something new to try (thanks Molly Ann, Dan Hannard and Brian Lane).
  • John Hamilton told us about falling cupcakes (here’s an A-level practical that uses cupcake cases): simple, cheap and reliable.   What’s not to love? 
  • Thomas’s friend Sylvia joined us to describe the human ticker timer and how it helps students to understand how a ticker timer works. 
  • Cara, Mr Holliday, Paul Reynolds and one of Robin’s lovely former colleagues (thanks James!) all talked about live graphs with motion sensors – the software that comes with the sensor will help to get your students acting out motion and so thinking carefully about what story the graphs are telling.  Really popular with the students this one! 
  • Tom recommended some analysis of car chases and 100m races on video, while @e=mc2andallthat has a tongue-in-cheek PowerPoint that details a race between Usain Bolt and Stephen Hawking.
  • Fabio di Salvo introduced the idea of using a real map (and don’t forget Google Maps could be a good homework here!) to compare ‘crow flies’ displacement to ‘path taken’ distance travelled. 
  • Nigel from Essex joined us to talk about using superhero The Flash in his lesson to get  students thinking about and measuring their speed and thus saving the Academy from a bomb attack.
  • Dan Toomey shared the PhET simulation “The Moving Man” as a way for students to see a graph plotted in real time.  Thomas liked it but thought Bernard Rand’s suggestion “TheUniverseandMore.com” was really special with a graphing challenge
  • Robin’s favourite are the apps that access the internal sensors in mobile phones such as https://phyphox.org/ and Google Journal, that will measure acceleration and allow students to analyse their motion (for example on the bus to school) and tell the story of the motion. 
  • Don’t forget videos!  Thomas and Robin loved one shared by Ruben Calverd showing acceleration in the ISS (you can watch it below if you are on the web site) – thanks Ruben!  Please remember to share any nice videos on @physicsTP 
  • Paul Reynolds wrapped things up with a description of “graph yoga”  A great bit of fun as a plenary… Namaste, Paul! 

Fancy hearing something on a future “Ways to teach…”?  Just let us know via the usual channels!  Thanks for listening. 


Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – 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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19. The “New” Model of Energy

Thomas and Robin feel the pain of Physics teachers all over the UK and attempt to get to grips with the new model of energy as promoted by the IoP. No more energy types, just energy stores that increase and decrease in magnitude and transfer processes that are allowed by the energy differences.

Timestamps

  • Philae lander found @ 00:30
  • Shooting nuclear waste in to the Sun @ 2:00
  • What is energy? @ 3:25
  • Energy Stores and the IoP’s different model @ 5:34
  • Tom Norris talking explaining the “new” model of energy @ 7:59
  • Robin helps Thomas talk about energy @ 17:27
  • Thomas and Robin grapple with a roller-coaster example @ 24:31
  • Precision of language @ 29:53
  • Common language with Brian Lane @ 30:32
  • A new T-shirt @ 34:33
  • The elephant in the room @ 36:00
  • Vacuum Cannon back in stock soon @ 36:56

Summary

After discussing the recent spotting of the lost Philae Lander and the folly of firing nuclear waste in to outer Space Robin and Thomas finally (and after much procrastination) bite the bullet and talk about Energy. The IoP has been pushing a “new” model of electricity in an effort to standardise the way it is talked about. Thomas’ understanding of this at the start of the episode is, to say the least, hazy. Robin talks him through it with the help of Tom Norris (from Episode 10: Ways to teach… Electricity). Moving away from “types of energy” to energy as the currency of force interactions that lets things happen does seem more sensible, but it is quite a change in thinking. W. Brian Lane, a professor from the USA mulls over his response to a student from the UK explaining energy with the new model before Thomas announces that there is a new t-shirt design and the vacuum cannon will soon be back in stock.

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – 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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19.1 “New” Energy Model ~ Extended Interview with Tom Norris

20 minutes of chat with Tom including him going in to more detail about the “New” model of energy.

The music in this extra episode is Cantina Rag by Jackson F. Smith. It was the runner up in our “Which music shall we have for the podcast?” play off.

Physics Teacher Sites

A non-exhuastive list of sites that have been drawn to my attention since Episode 18, Spin, Shared Resources and Social Media. As I hear about more I will attempt to add them.

www.planetphysics.co.uk: by Paul Reynolds, and the subject of the podcast.

www.darvill.clara.net: Mentioned by Thomas in the podcast, this is Andy Darvill’s site, and was first active in the early 90s. It must be one of the first.

prettygoodphysics.org: Suggested by Patrick Kaplo and aimed at American educators, I am still waiting to be accepted but very interested to see what is in there.

teachbrianteach.com: An American College lecturer’s site with blogs and resources.

LetsCodePhysics: Brian Lane is a Physics Professor in Florida. He teaches people to build models in code through this youtube channel.

If you want to suggest another link please tweet us @physicstp or email using the form below.

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18. Spin, Shared Resources and Social Media

Photographic Physics in the News (great for a podcast) before Paul Reynolds tells us about his web site, planetphysics.co.uk that started as a personal site for storing files for printing but has slowly become a resource for non-specialists. Thomas and Robin then discuss how the internet can support non-specialists.

Timestamps

  • Single atom visible @ 00:54
  • A new particle @ 3:53
  • PlanetPhysics.co.uk @ 6:00
  • Shared resources (and where are they?) @ 12:11
  • New T-shirt @ 18:20
  • How twitter can be useful @ 19:54
  • Robin agrees with OFSTED @ 23:23

Summary

Thomas is blown away by a photo of single atom that won the 2018 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council science photography competition. It reminds him of the scanning tunnelling microscope he saw at the Cavendish labs once. Robin then worries Thomas with his knowledge of what “Spin” is as they mull over the new fast spinning charmonium particle.

We then hear from Paul Reynolds (@PlanetReyolds on twitter) who has accidentally set up a resource that supports the non-specialists in his department. He has used standard google tools to drag and drop resources in to a web site. This leads in to a discussion of how peple are using the internet to support Physics teaching and how fragmented that World is.

A great shock in the episode if Robin agreeing with OFSTED and then suggesting that Thomas (and you) contribute to their ongoing consultation document.

Please share ideas or successes – or indeed questions – 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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