Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile ACME Page Fillers, Inc. Previous Previous Next Next
PhysBits - trinalin thinks things through — LiveJournal
This year saw the return of Channel One to our school. This is a service whereby students are shown a "hip" news program (and 2 minutes of commercials) each day to keep them up on current events. I actually enjoy Channel One (though I let my kids talk through the commercials) - Lisa Ling who's on The View (at least, I think she's still there) was a former Channel One reporter.

Well, this year, we had a freshman who wanted to start a news program for the school to be shown over the Channel One system and, with the support of the "media specialist" (formerly called librarian) did so. Each Monday, now, the Newton News report airs. And I decided to take advantage of this and advertise physics. I asked the physics students if they'd be interested in making little 2 minute "PhysBits" to be shown on Newton News (or N2). They jumped at the chance. They researched physics demos, wrote scripts, even built equipment to use in the demos.

So a couple of weeks ago, we spent physics class filming 4 of the 8 PhysBits. One group chose to show off air pressure by crushing pop cans. Another proved that air has mass (or as their poster read "Gases has Masses"), which was entertaining when it *didn't* work. They had two balanced balloons and then let the air out of one balloon. Unfortunately, the balance (a balanced meterstick) swung the wrong way. They weren't too phased - they bumped the balance and finally it tilted the correct way. A third group did Action/Reaction using a water rocket. While the two girls in the group talked about Newton's Third Law, the boy was busy pumping at the water rocket. As soon as the girls finished their talk, the rocket went off. They couldn't have planned it any better.

The fourth group of that day went over and above the call of duty. While looking through the text book (Conceptual Physics by Paul Hewitt) they saw a photo of Hewitt breaking a cinder block on the chest of someone laying on a bed of nails. They looked at a number of other demo ideas and finally settled on building their own bed of nails for the trick. Sure enough, by the day of filming, they had a rather crude, but effective, bed of nails. One of the boys then stood on the bed of nails in his stockinged feet and then he laid down on the bed with just a thin layer of shirt, and his partner stood on him (and did a surfing pose).

I was really impressed with the first four PhysBits and apparently a lot of the students were impressed as well. So today, we filmed three more of the PhysBits (alas, one group had a partner who was sick today). The first group demonstrated the three primary colors of light (red, green, and blue) and their complementary colors (cyan, magenta, and yellow). The next group demonstrated the van de Graaf generator. They started with one of the boys having his hair stand on end, then they shot a bunch of confetti in the air. (And, to my eternal gratitude, cleaned up the confetti afterwards - without my mentioning it - woohoo!) The last group was the most entertaining, however.

They'd asked to do the "throwing an egg into a sheet" trick that I'd done earlier in the year. So they worked at figuring out how that worked (hey, it was half a year ago, don't expect them to remember about Impulse and stuff...) and came up with a good script. They asked if they could throw an egg at a wall, and I said, sure. They also asked if they could throw the eggs "naked" (as I always had them in a plastic bag, just in case). And I said "sure." Heh - foolish teacher...

So today they brought four eggs to do the trick. When the one girl threw the egg at the wall (which was just outside the superintendent's office and my chem lab), it shattered and splattered most impressively, getting on the carpet leading into the super's office area, etc. The girls all laughed, but recovered their composure and continues filming. So the thrower now throws a new egg at the sheet - and this one rolls up the sheet, unbroken, and then falls down behind it, breaking on the floor. The two girls holding the sheet collapsed in laughter. Thankfully, they'd brought 4 eggs.

Attempt number two at the sheet saw the egg shatter when it hit the sheet and making a huge wet splatter on it. Once again, the sheet holders were on the ground in laughter. Turns out that egg was the one with the hole in it and the thrower assured me that it broke as it left her hand. So they cleaned the guck off the sheet and explained at the start of the next take that they had a defective egg and were going to try again. The third time, as is often written, was the charm and the egg flew into the sheet and remained unbroken (albeit a bit wet from the previous egg mess). I got the girls a bucket of soapy water and a roll of paper towels and they managed to (hopefully!) clean everything up.

Ah, I just love teaching physics! Physics is Phun!

Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: "Go West (1992 12" mix)" by Pet Shop Boys

5 comments or Leave a comment
warinbabylon From: warinbabylon Date: March 23rd, 2004 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like it was a trip! Physics is phun!
dark_pheonix From: dark_pheonix Date: March 23rd, 2004 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ehe *insert many puns about how the Doctor is very "Physic-al"*

That sounds like a very spiffy idea. We have nothing like that at my school :( But I'll be moving on next year so all is well.
flarnloop From: flarnloop Date: March 23rd, 2004 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL, I'd love to be throwing eggs around, physics or no. ;) Sounds like loads of fun.. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 24th, 2004 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)

swinging buckets

anyone demonstrated centrifugal force with a bucket full of water swinging over their head yet?

This sounds like a really good way to get the kids from class engaged and give the subject a better profile/rep in school.

Mags (look! LJ syndication!) (http://www.livejournal.com/users/moosifer_jones/)
trinalin From: trinalin Date: March 24th, 2004 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: swinging buckets

anyone demonstrated centrifugal force with a bucket full of water swinging over their head yet?

No, but I've demonstrated Newton's First Law of Motion and centripetal force with a bucket full of water swining over my head. ;-)

This sounds like a really good way to get the kids from class engaged and give the subject a better profile/rep in school.

I love to advertise physics. Most kids take physics because everyone has to have 3 credits of science and chemistry is the logical choice. (They've already had introductory physical science and biology as required classes.) So physics is basically an elective. So it doesn't matter where I teach, I get the kids out there and visible - we do a number of experiments in the hallway, not simply because there's more room, but also so the little kids (this is K-12 all in one building) see big kids having fun with science. I want those little kids to grow up thinking "and I'll get to take Physics when I'm a senior!" (The band directors at Newton take a similar approach - when they visit the 5th graders, it's not "do you want to be in band?" but "which instrument are *you* going to play when you're in band?" :-) We teachers of electives must get the word out!)

And I should probably advertise your new syndicated account, moosifer_jones! :-)
5 comments or Leave a comment