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Making First Year Physics Fun

Ben Davis-Purcell, Instructional Assistant, McMaster University
davispbr@mcmaster.ca

The Department of Physics & Astronomy at McMaster University recently redesigned our first-year physics programme. The most important aspect of this project was the design and implementation of a new introductory physics course (Physics 1A03). Sara Cormier wrote about this course in detail last year, so I will just give a brief overview. Physics 1A03 sees an enrolment of about 1800 students each year, primarily by students who need one physics course to meet a degree requirement. Many students who take the course have never taken grade 12 physics or calculus, so we do not assume prior knowledge or use any calculus. Instead, the goal of the course is to give students an appreciation for physics and show its importance, focusing on concepts that relate to real-life problems. Most importantly, we want to show students that physics is not just valuable, but fun to understand and learn. In this article I will focus on some of my favourite ways in which we make Physics 1A03 fun. I will refer you to Sara’s article for a more detailed overview of the course. Read More...

Physics in the news as a vector for classroom engagement

Kelly Meissner, BSc, MSc, BEd
Bluevale Collegiate Institute, WRDSB
kelly_meissner@wrdsb.ca

Now more than ever it has become important for our students to develop a deep understanding of the science in the news that constantly surrounds them. These students will live with the effects of climate change and hopefully make important evidenced-based decisions rather than those based on alternative facts. It is imperative that when our students leave us, they have a strong moral, ethical and scientific compass that supports the betterment of humanity and our precious Earth. Read More...

Astronomy Workshop

The Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, and Discover the Universe — a national, bilingual program to support the teaching of astronomy in schools — invite you to attend and participate in a FREE one-day astronomy workshop for schoolteachers. The focus will be on the grade nine level, but all interested teachers and education professionals are welcome.

When/Where: Saturday April 28, 2018 from 9 am to 4 pm on the University of Toronto St. George Campus, 50 St. George Street.
Note: the workshop venue is not wheelchair accessible.

The workshop will include curriculum-connected science mini-talks and discussions, a planetarium show, classroom activities and resources, free materials to take back to your classroom, lots of time for questions and discussion, and a chance to talk with astronomers and education specialists.

For more information, and to register, free of charge, go to:
http://discovertheuniverse.ca/workshop/astronomy-workshop-in-toronto-2018/

Discover the Universe (discovertheuniverse.ca) is sponsored by the Dunlap Institute, and the Canadian Astronomical Society.

Biophysics Contest

The Physics Department of York University is hosting a Biophysics contest.

This is a competition open to all Ontario high school students. The contest aims to investigate a rapidly growing frontier of science, and to promote skills in the communication of science. The goal is to demonstrate the interdisciplinary threads that connect together the physical and life sciences, which can seem and feel like disparate areas of science in high school and university! Students must create a poster to visually tell a "story" that relates a fundamental physical concept to a basic biological (or biomedical) topic.

This is a great opportunity to help your students get excited about what is happening where biology meets physics. The first prize is $1250!! The deadline for submission is midnight May1, 2018.

For more information, go to
http://www.biophysics.yorku.ca/contest/

The 2018 OAPT Conference is open for Registration!!!

This year’s conference will take place May 10-12 at Western University. The theme this year is Physics at the Boundaries, where we will explore how physics interacts with other disciplines.

There will be over 30 workshops to choose from to support physics education from grade 9 to 12 and post-secondary. It is a great opportunity to share ideas and concerns, make friends and professional connections.

The costs of the conference are very low — especially if you register before the early bird deadline of April 12 — and there are special rates for teachers who are new, retired or from the elementary panel. The accommodation is subsidized ($30 per night including a hot breakfast!) and there are a limited number of subsidies for travel and first-time attendees.

For more information about the conference and to register go to https://oaopt.wildapricot.org/page-18092
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