Science (physics only)

Teaching inverse square laws

February 1, 2012

That darn inverse square law comes up in so many places — electric fields drop off as 1/r^2, so does light intensity, gravity, and a bunch of other things that I’m not thinking of at the moment. I just came across some fun things in my archives from some master teachers on how they teach […]

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Electron flow vs current flow? (Repost)

September 1, 2011

The geekgirl is going a little nutty over here, hence the silence on the posting front.  I’ve got a good excuse — I’m getting married in about 10 days.  So cut a girl some slack.  🙂  Fun facts — we’re getting married on 9/10/11 — which only happens 11 times in every 100 years, and […]

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Teaching non-majors Light and Color (and making them love it)

August 18, 2011

I sacrificed my June and my sanity this summer to teach the non-majors Light and Color course (see below for course materials).  This was exactly the population I am interested in reaching with good science instruction — not the converted, science enthusiasts, but the often math-phobic rest of the population.  And I got my wish.  […]

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So cool! 3D micrographs of snowflakes

December 30, 2010

Just in time for our first big snow here in Boulder, Wired just published a set of beautiful micrographs of snowflakes, and as a bonus, some of them are in 3D! Here is one of the 3D images.  It’s a DIY 3D — let your eyes relax and blur, so that you’re slightly crossing them, […]

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Physics and science posters

October 28, 2010

If you need physics posters for your classroom, Zazzle is one place you might look.  Anyone can upload a poster (so if you need to make one, and just want someone to ship you a nice laminated copy, you can do that here). Here’s what a search for Periodic Table (restricted to Posters only) gave […]

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What we’re NOT doing to train future physics teachers

October 14, 2010

Yesterday, we had a fascinating, but sobering, presentation from a group of physics educators charged with giving the nation a snapshot of how well we’re doing in training the next generation of physics educators.  It’s a pretty grim picture.  “Students who are becoming physics teachers are doing it on their own,” said David Meltzer, “and […]

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Just look down three posts…

September 2, 2010

For all you nice physicists who are hitting the blog because of the shout-out in the AAPT e-NNOUNCER, just scroll down three blog posts to find my listing of all my posts from AAPT. I welcome guest posts about sessions that I didn’t make it to! Just drop me a note at stephanie (at) sciencegeekgirl […]

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Out of one, many: Five researchers analyze the same student video (#aaptsm10)

July 21, 2010

I’m going to attempt to liveblog (again, from AAPT) on this very interesting presentations, where five theoretical perspectives are brought to bear on a single video of classroom interactions.  You can see the video itself online at Dewey Dykstra’s website, by looking under the “Different Perspectives” folder.  There you’ll find the video, its transcript, and […]

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Education technology posts at AAPT (#aaptsm10)

July 21, 2010

I’ve posted several items about educational technology from AAPT on my other blog, TheActiveClass.  You can see those here: Do students learn better with peer instruction?  Does it last? Common challenges in using clickers Effective use of technology in physics education

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Students’ understanding of energy: Acting out our thinking (#aaptsm10)

July 21, 2010

At the AAPT meeting, the folks from Seattle Pacific University have taken one session by storm, to discuss their thinking and experimentation on students’ idea of energy.  They’re working, in particular, on embodied cognition — learning activities that involve the body to symbolically engage in a scientific problem. Lane Seeley opened out with the claim […]

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Student reasoning in tutorials (#AAPTsm10)

July 20, 2010

I’m at the American Association of Physics Teachers meeting, and will be trying to liveblog some of my observations from sessions while I’m here.  The absence of wireless may dampen the true “live”-ness of the liveblog, but I’ll aim for semi-live blogging – ie., I’ll post stuff from my hotel at night, before I collapse […]

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Why can’t I hear right? Stephanie researches her ears.

July 12, 2010

[[NOTE:  The update on my symptoms and the resulting diagnosis is in the comments if you’re curious.  I get a lot of comments on this post asking for updates, so please look in the comments for the answer!]] I’ve had the most distressing symptoms over the past week, which sparked my biophysics curiosity.  At first […]

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An ethnography of particle physics (Beamtimes and Lifetimes)

March 22, 2010

I’ve been telling everyone about this wonderful book that I finally got around to reading — Beamtimes and Lifetimes by Sharon Traweek.  It’s a really interesting read — an honest-to-goodness ethnography of particle physicists at SLAC.  Sharon Traweek is an anthropologist and she spent years in participant-observation at SLAC and at a Japanese accelerator, and […]

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Will it sink or float? Soda cans and density.

February 26, 2010

Many teachers know the value of finding those surprising science experiments and demonstrations that hook kids’ attention.  One popular one is to have kids predict whether soda cans will sink or float, which turns out to be a nice hook for ideas of density.  Kids generally figure that if one thing of a kind sinks […]

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Plexiglas breaks in weird ways (science writing on the side)

February 12, 2010

In my copious spare time (!), I do some freelance writing assignments.  I recently got a fun assignment from my acquaintance and colleague David Ehrenstein at Physical Review Focus.  (I met David many years ago at a National Association of Science Writers conference… before a talk started, I heard someone ask “Could you explain Dark […]

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The science of the winter olympics

January 15, 2010

NBC Learn has a bunch of free online educational videos, such as word roots and documentaries.  Now, with the NSF, they also have a set of videos all about the winter olympic games!  The science of snowboarding, hockey, figure skating, and more!  I took a look and was favorably impressed — they’re about 5 minutes […]

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Can you be killed by a bullet falling from the sky?

December 29, 2009

A pertinent question to ask as we approach New Years’ Eve.  The answer is, as is so many things, “it’s complicated.”  According to the Straight Dope, the answer is “it depends.” When an object falls, there are two main forces on it — gravity, and air resistance.  Air resistance depends on how fast something is […]

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Public science lectures: What for? How to?

November 23, 2009

I recently read two interesting articles on translating science for the public — in particular, why we give lectures for the public at all, and some effective ways to do it. For those of you who are interested, here are the original source articles: Explaining the Unexplainable: Translated Scientific Explanations (TSE) in public physics lectures, […]

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Making light rays in the classroom

November 14, 2009

In optics experiments, you often need to create lines of light.  You can do this with light boxes, but they’re expensive, and tend to  have too many rays to be useful.  Laser light boxes are great, but again, spendy. One teacher recommends using laser levels. These are the things made to help you hang pictures […]

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Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

November 11, 2009

If you’re a teacher — of physics, or any other physical science — and haven’t yet picked up a copy of Edward Redish’s Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite , I’m making a bid right now that you do so. I finally read it — really read it — instead of just browsing through a […]

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