Trina L Short (trinalin) wrote,
Trina L Short
trinalin

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PhysBits

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!
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