8. Venn Hats, Meows and a Mysterious Tube

Mr Benjie

As David Bowie once mused “Is there seismic activity on Mars?” ( I think that’s what he said…), and who are we to argue?  So we kicked off discussing NASA Mars Insight Lander and then Robin confessed to group about his tendency to get on a self-righteous soapbox (see episode 7!).  Luckily this week’s chat was the perfect antidote to stress as he chatted to Carole Kenrick: primary teacher, secondary teacher,  artist and PhD student, she wears many metaphorical hats … and has a podcasting cat called Mr Benjie.

Carole tells us about two of the practicals she likes the most: decay-dice and mystery tubes. Decay dice take the simplicity of rolling one die, developing it in to a beautiful mathematical model. She uses mystery tubes from the Berkley Understanding Science web site and they kindly provide instructions to make them. Thomas couldn’t resist making a mystery tube of his own and “Thomas from the future” appears to tell how he got on.

Thomas' early prototype
Thomas’ early prototype

Carole also introduces us to “Physics Fairy” (no, really, check it out!) and explained how it came into non-existence from working with Force Goggles from the Supporting Physics Teaching web site.

New Competition – Closes 13th December

Help us with our planned “Electricity” episode by giving us your top tips… and pitfalls. Either tweet us with the hash tag #physicstpelectricity or comment in the thread on our Facebook page. Thomas and Robin will choose a winner on the 13th of December and will send you a signed copy of Ben Rogers’ wonderful book The Big Ideas in Physics and How to Teach Them.

It remains an enthralling and educational adventure making this podcast for you.  We love hearing from you and you are a very big part of the adventure; guide us, tell us what you want to hear about. It really is your podcast, so please get in touch: teachers of physics are our very favourite superheroes!

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

7. Ben, Big Ideas and beginnings

 Ben’s Book

Thomas and Robin talk about the podcast’s roots and where it all started, to help all teachers of physics to feel a sense of professional community. You can help by sharing it with your friends, and if you do that you have a chance to win a podcast T-Shirt! The competition lasts until 30th November 2018 and the winner will be announced in the Episode 8.

We were joined by author and all-round lovely man Ben Rogers, whose books The Big Ideas in Physics and How to Teach Them is taking the physics teaching community by storm.  Ben tells us about cognitive science (links below); why he is not opposed to practical work, and how he came up with all the history and characters in the book.

Thomas enthuses about the versorium needle (everyone should make one). 

Robin was on his soapbox again (it happens, just ignore him) encouraging teachers to avoid the temptation to treat new ideas as how they should be teaching, rather to use the ideas to enhance the good practice you’ve built up.

Versorium (needle)

Ben’s References for Cognitive Science

…and finally

Don’t forget to enter our first competition. Win a beautiful podcast T-shirt (in the colour of your choice) by interacting! To win, tell us why you like listening. There are many ways to do this:

Thomas and Robin will pick a winner and announce it in Episode 8.

It remains an engrossing and uplifting adventure making this podcast for you.  You’ve already taken it in directions we weren’t expecting; it really is your podcast, so please get in touch: teachers of physics are our very favourite breed of hero!

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

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Entries! and Momentum Round-Up

We put out the competition not really knowing quite what to expect. Four entries before 8:15am was an exciting start to the day though as I write at 4:30pm it is still four, which has brought me down to Earth somewhat!

Momentum Day

Today was “Momentum” day. After talking with Ben Rogers about cognitive Science (that is in the next episode) I changed the demo away from play (the students making the rockets) and in to a demo so they could concentrate on the key idea of impulse (Ft) being more for the longer rocket, and hence v being higher. I made four rockets myself before the lesson. Showing them the rockets was actually a good way to mention to them that a vernier can be used for internal diameters too. I tried to make all the tubes the same diameter, but it was pretty hard and I think this led to the inevitable inconsistencies in the heights.

There was much uncertainty! The pump was definitely pretty rough at the low pressures I needed to keep the long one below the ceiling, the diameters of the rockets and the release of pressure through the valve all affected each launch. The results were not quantitative at all (my main aim) but it was clear that the longer went higher (on average).  I think if I made better rockets on fixed tubes it would be more successful, it is certainly worth pursuing. More massive ones would allow more pressure too.

But as a learning demo it was very good. The idea of the force being constant as the rocket launches and the longer rocket being in contact for a greater time made it easy to imagine impulse and relate it to velocity. At least I thought so. Time will tell.

An Unexpected Misconception

What surprised me was that one person thought that the smallest rocket would go the highest. I’d said that all were made from one sheet of A4 so all were the same mass, but suspect that they were thinking “small is light”.

Interact and Win a T-Shirt!

T-Shirt logo

Now we have listeners, and an Instagram page (@physics_teaching_podcast) we thought we would encourage you to share the podcast by having our first competition. Join us at the bottom of an exponential by winning a beautiful podcast T-shirt (in the colour of your choice) by interacting! To win, tell us why you like listening. There are many ways to do this:

Thomas and Robin will pick a winner in a couple of weeks.

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