Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Chinese Farmer - Perspective

An old Chinese story tells of a farmer whose only horse runs away. “How terrible!”
say his neighbours. “Maybe!” says the farmer.
The next day his horse returns, bringing along three wild horses. “How wonderful!”
say his neighbours. “Maybe!” says the father.
The following day his son tries to tame one of the wild horses, but he falls off
and breaks his leg. “How terrible!” say his neighbours. “Maybe!” says the farmer.
The next day some soldiers come along to force young men of the village to join
them in war. Because the lad has a broken leg, he is left behind. “How fortunate!”
say the neighbours. “Maybe!” says the farmer.
The soldiers, still one man short, take the young man’s cousin instead. “How
dreadful!” say the farmer’s neighbours.  “Maybe!” says the farmer.
That night a landslide covers the house in which the cousin would have been
sleeping if he had not been taken by the soldiers. “How fortunate!” say the
friends. “Maybe!” says the farmer. And so the story could go on! One of life’s
great lessons is this: we’re never sure just how things are going to turn out. We’ll
live a good life if our attitude is always positive - determined to make the best
of all situations that come up.

So much of what we teach and learn in our classrooms depend upon perspective. 
Determining what is and what isn't important.  Looking for connections to where we have been and where we want to go.  Discovering in ourselves what we desire and devloping a means of obtaining what we want.  All comes down to perspective.  

Vince Lombardi once said, "It is not how often you get knocked down, but how often you are able to get back up."

To often teachers and students see setbacks, wrong answers and failure as an end. 
However, these should not  be seen as ends, but simply part of the process towards success. 

It all depends upon perspective!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Zoetropes - Animated Science


I have my physics students make zoetropes as a means of solidifying their understanding of topics in phyiscs.

A zoetrope is a device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures. The term zoetrope is from the  Greek words (zoe), meaning "alive, active", and  (trope), meaning "turn". "Zoetrope" taken to mean "active turn".
The zoetrope consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. On the inner surface of the cylinder is a band with images from a set of sequenced pictures. As the cylinder spins, the user looks through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and the user sees a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.

Plastic Tub
Foam Board Circle 6” Diameter
6” Diameter Circle on White Paper with Center Point
Poster Board Strip  3.25” x 20”
2 1” squares od HDPE
Pre-made animation strip

Making the Zoetrope
Glue the white circle to the foam board circle.
Stick the nail through the center of the disc and wiggle it until the disc spins freely on the nail.
Carefully cut out the two animation strips. Do not cut out the slits. Carefully glue them end to end to the poster board. Leave 1” exposed at one end.
Curl the poster board with the animation strip inside. Overlap and glue the 1” in tab.
When the glue is dry, cut out the slits along the movie strip.
Tape the cylinder (slits up), securely to the foam board circle (white circle up).Do not allow tape to cover the slits.
Push the nail through a piece of HDPE, then through the foam disc, then through another piece of HDPE.  Put the nail into the hole in the tub and secure it with the cork.
Use the cork to spin the cylinder. Make sure the cylinder spins freely.
Your Zoetrope is Complete!!!!
View the animation by spinning the cylinder as you look through the slits.
This animations depicts the fusion of a 4 Hydrogen nuclei fusing to form Helium.
Helium contains 2 protons and 2 neutrons. Lightning bolts represent energy given off.  

Zoetrope Instructions
Zoetrope Strips  Sample Animation and Blanks

Drawing Your Own Animation

You will design two (2) animation strips to represent any two (2) physics concepts
You will be provided pre-formatted blank animation strips.
Begin with a plan.
Organize your diagram to fit the 12 box format.
Begin with pencil sketches until you are sure about your concept layout.
Use black ink to outline the diagram.
Use color to enhance your animation.
The more vibrant the colors the better the movement pattern will appear.
You can create depth to images by layering materials like construction paper cutouts, string, beads etc… to represent objects in the animation.
Because the 12 pictures pass by very quickly, the animated sequence should not by overly complex.
You do not need to be a great artist.  As you saw in the sample animation, the drawing can be simplistic, circles, squares and lines. Just use your imagination.

Animation Ideas

Falling Objects
Molecular Motion
Phase Changes
Simple Machines
Rotational Motion
Reflection in a Mirror
Refraction of Light

Thursday, May 10, 2012

10 Brain Facts

Each and every second of your life, several billion bits of information pass through your brain.

Messages within your brain travel through trillions of neural connections at speeds up to 250 miles per hour.

Your brain generates 25 watts of power while you are awake - enough to illuminate an light bulb.
Your brain uses 20% of your body's energy - while accounting for only 2% of your body weight.

Juggling has shown to change the brain in as little as seven days. The studyindicates that learning new things helps the brain to change very quickly.

The average number of thoughts that humans are believed to experience each day is 70,000.

Boredom  s brought on by a lack of change of stimulation, is largely a function of perception, and is connected to the innate curiosity found in humans.

There is no sense of pain within the brain itself. This fact allows neurosurgeons to probe areas of the brain while the patient is awake. Feedback from the patient during these probes is useful for identifying important regions, such as those for speech, that are spared if possible.

A child's ability to learn can increase or decrease by 25 percent or more, depending on whether he or she grows up in a stimulating environment.
It's no accident that telephone numbers in the United States are seven digits long. Our working memory, a very short-term form of memory which stores ideas just long enough for us to understand them, can hold on average seven digits.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Electrical Circuits Tutorials PhET Simulations

The University of Colorado at Boulder provides an excellent website for Interactive Simulations and Tutorials for Physics Education.  The PhET site boasts more than 75 million simulations that can be delivered online to teachers and students.

In my Conceptual Physics classroom I use the the tutorial simulation for Electrical Circuits.
Demonstrating both series and parallel circuits on the SMART Board is very easy.
Students can then use tablets or clasroom computers to build their own circuits. This tutorial allows students to understand a wide variety of characteristics of circuits.  The tutorial allows students to build circuits in a variety of ways including switches, wires, batteries and and light bulbs, as well as, inductors, resistors and capacitors.
Once students complete their circuits, they can utilize a series of built in tools including current and voltage charts, ammeter, voltmeter and a stopwatch to analyze their completed circuits.