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Physics Camp Summer 2017

Roberta Tevlin, Editor OAPT Newsletter

Physics camp is back again this summer! It will take place just outside of Sudbury on the gorgeous campus of Laurentian University which has with miles of wooded hiking trails and a lovely lake and beach. It will be led by Chris Meyer, Roberta Tevlin and Greg Macdonald from August 9-11. It is paid for by the Ontario Teachers Federation and is completely free (materials, accommodations, breakfast, lunch, coffee breaks, transportation) as long as you are a member of this union. Registration details will be available soon, but in the meantime you should consider keeping those days available. Why would you want to go to physics camp? Read More...

Forensic Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

A Practical Experiment For Learning Kinematics and Other STEM Concepts

Dr. Theresa Stotesbury, Research and Product Development, Trent University

I am part of a research group out of Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario) that has developed a teaching kit that provides a 60-minute problem-based experiment that is suitable for high school science students. The activity connects forensic science and kinematics through the analysis of blood spatter. I will be presenting the kit at the OAPT conference at 9:30 on Friday May 12th. Read More...

The Physics of Stunt Action Field Trip

Sarah Grimes, Justin Findlay, Dave Doucette, Physics Teachers

Movies, television and video games are awash with heroes, villains and their super-sized cousins. As media consumers, we are captivated by seemingly impossible feats of physical prowess. In fact, they are more than seemingly impossible — they are literally impossible. The magic of cinema coerces us to suspend disbelief and accept the impossible as plausible. How is this done?

With CGI, pulleys, wire-rigging and physics! The magic seen in Mutant X, Lost Girl and other programs was combined at FAST (Fight Action Stunt Team) Motion Studios in Toronto, a highly experienced international team of stunt action coordinators, artists and riggers. Students can visit the studio and experience the process first-hand. While there, they will make connections to the physics they’ve learned and will be exposed to career opportunities in a recession-proof industry. Read More...

Assessment is Learning

A Workshop at the OAPT Conference Workshop, Saturday, May 13
Chris Meyer

One of the most frustrating experiences I have had as a teacher is understanding why my students are not improving. I spend a lot of time and energy designing new and hopefully improved lessons for my students. I try to emphasize key details that I know are tricky or problematic for students. I give them careful feedback on their assignments and tests. And yet, my students make the same exasperating mistakes over and over again— they show such little improvement! But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised considering I have never specifically rewarded improvement. Read More...

Good Things Happen in an Affective Classroom

Christine Hudecki, Teacher our Lady of Lourdes Catholic HS

We were just a couple of weeks into the new semester when one of my students started to teach me and the rest of the class. It was a great moment and upon reflection, I think that the student felt comfortable ‘taking over’ because of a number of changes that have I made in my classroom. These were changes that reflect the theme of this year’s conference, Affective Physics: Harnessing Emotion to Improve Learning. Read More...

Scientific Teaching

Keynote Address from the TDSB Eureka! Conference 2017

Chris Meyer, OAPT VP teaching and learning, Assistant Curriculum Leader York Mills C. I.

When I started learning about the science of teaching, it was with very specific questions in mind like “how can I help my students understand Newton’s Third Law”, or “why do students keep using Δx/Δt for accelerated motion?” As I have explored questions such as these over the years, tantalizing clues have led me away from a specific focus on physics pedagogy towards an examination of how people learn. I discovered that the fields of neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and physics education research are offering up pieces of a scientific model of learning that can provide real, practical guidance for teachers. This model is in its infancy, but is a crucial step towards turning teaching into a practical science. In the fullness of time, it should be as revolutionary for teaching as Newton’s Principia was for natural philosophy. Read More...

A Simple Vector Development of Centripetal Acceleration

Dave Doucette, OAPT Vice-President

While teaching uniform circular motion in high school, I struggled with developing the ac = v2/r relationship in an intuitive and cognitively meaningful way. Geometric arguments do not resonate with students. They accept on faith but often with little interest or insight. Here is an approach that may do a better job. Read More...

The Intersection of Science and Small Contractor House Construction

Dave Gervais, Chair STAO Safety Committee, construction worker

The options for your students that drop out of high school or graduate with high school are very limited. After rolling through the low paying jobs of the service sector, restaurant or retail business, construction work looks pretty good. How do the science and mathematical principles and calculations in construction compare to that taught in our science classes? Read More...

Webinars and Video Calls in the Classroom

Stacey Joyce, Program Manager at Partners In Research Canada (PIR)

I’m sure that you employ a variety of tools and strategies in your classroom, including inquiry activities, independent or group projects, “assessments as, for and of” learning… the list goes on. But how do you and your students answer the questions they come up with during or after the initial inquiry activity? What types of resources do you teach students to use for their independent research? How do you introduce the students to career options that use Physics?

Here’s where video calls and webinars come in, and don’t think that you can’t afford these options — they’re free from Partners In Research Canada (PIR)! Read More...

New Recommendations for the Safe Use of Laser Pointers

David Gervais, Chair STAO Safety Chair

STAO’s Safe on Science booklet is a great resource for teachers and is used as the standard for safe practices by many school boards in Ontario. It presently states that only class 1 and 2 lasers should be used in the classroom. This bans almost all laser pointers from your classroom. A recent OAPT Newsletter article questioned why class 3R lasers (most regular laser pointers) are not accepted. After carefully reviewing the literature and holding extensive discussions, STAO has decided that laser class 3R should be added for recommended use in schools. The Safe on Science booklet is being revised and will be completed by March 31. This will be sent to school boards in the province. Read More...

The Power of Quiet

Roberta Tevlin, teacher Danforth CTI, editor OAPT Newsletter roberta.tevlin@tdsb.on.ca

Edited by Tim Langford, Chris Meyer

Physics Education Research has provided solid evidence that lectures may be good at transmitting knowledge but poor at developing understanding and so we should implement student-centred learning in our classrooms. However, Susan Cain, the author of the 2012 best-seller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is very dismissive of the way group learning is replacing lectures. The book’s central premise is that our culture is too strongly slanted in favour of extroverts and they way they work and learn.

At first, the anti-group work message of the book just got my back up. I read it so that I could refute it. Further reflection has made me realise that it provides some important insights and even fits well with this year’s conference theme of Affective Physics. Read More...

Simplifying Instructions to Unleash the Power of Memory

by Tim Langford

Last month I attended a “train the trainer” workshop for TWI: Training Within Industry. Industry is a different world than education. However, as I took in the information that our instructor offered, my mind naturally gravitated to how these lessons apply to what I know best, the teaching of physics. This is a short article that attempts to link one best practice from industry to what you and I do daily in the physics classroom. Read More...

Blended Learning in a Large University Classroom

Sara Cormier, Instructional Assistant, McMaster University

The Department of Physics & Astronomy at McMaster University recently redesigned the first-year physics course for the Life Sciences, Physics 1A03. We needed to design a course for a large number (~1800 students per year) who may or may not have taken any physics in high school. For many of these students, Physics 1A03 will be the only university physics course they take. It was essential that we make the course fun and relevant and help instill an appreciation for physics. We needed to create a course that was useful and exciting for students whose predominant interests lie in the life sciences, but also provide enough background physics for those students who may wish to continue in a physics stream. This was a challenge, but September 2016 marked the first anniversary of Physics 1A03 and I think it is now safe to say that we successfully met (or exceeded) our goals. Read More...

Improving Writing and Thinking in Physics: Writing with the 4 Cs

Roberta Tevlin, teacher Danforth CTI, editor OAPT Newsletter roberta.tevlin@tdsb.on.ca
Edited by Tim Langford

Are you getting frustrated reading answers that ramble on and don’t make much sense? Does it look like your students are writing everything they know about the topic in the hope that some part of it answers the question? Writing with the 4 Cs is a teaching technique to improve writing and thinking. Read More...

Colloquium at U of Guelph - Revolutions in Physics Education

Chris Meyer will be presenting at the University of Guelph Department of physics this coming Tuesday, January 24. All are welcome.

Title of Talk: Revolutions in Physics Education: Build a Better Student, Build a Better Teacher

Abstract: We live in an exciting time for teaching physics. Over 30 years of education research by physics professionals is transforming physics teaching from a mystical art into a practical science. In the process, many educational myths have been successfully challenged. Research is providing great insight into the cognitive development of our students’ physics understanding and the accompanying physical changes that take place in the brain. As a result, pedagogical techniques have broken free from the traditions and fads of the past, and are now grounded in an empirical understanding of how humans learn. By creating a research-based learning environment, we can literally build better students and build better teachers. In this talk, Chris will share the key results from education research that inspired him to create a lecture-free high school physics program that is now spreading across Ontario.

For more information visit: https://www.physics.uoguelph.ca/events/physics-colloquia/revolutions-in-physics-education-build-a-better-student-build-a-better-teacher

Assessment for Learning: The Check Up

Ryan Thompson, OAPT Treasurer, Physics Teacher Newmarket HS

When the Growing Success document came out in Ontario, the terms “Assessment as, for and of learning” were introduced. Even after teaching for 13 years, I still have to pause and stare into space as I try to differentiate between the three types. Time dilation is easier than that!

I believe in timely feedback and having direct involvement in each student’s success but I am also managing a schedule that is very limited on time (time dilation again!). As a result, I try to do what I can in the classroom.

This article will be about one technique that helps me reconcile the Growing Success document’s expectations, my own philosophy of teaching and limited time in the school day. This tool is called The Check Up and it helps the teacher get quick feedback about your past lesson. Read More...

STEM Talk: Modelling Climate using Science, Mathematics and Technology

Dr. Jason Cole
Research Scientist, Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma)
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)

Date: Tuesday February 21, 2017
Location: Durham District School Board, 400 Taunton Road East, Whitby Ontario
Time: 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Understanding Earth's climate and factors that affect it is a complex and important issue for society. Models of varying detail and scope are tools that can be used to capture our knowledge about climate and to explore its response to different scenarios. In this talk, Dr. Cole will discuss the basic ideas behind one such model, called an Earth System Model, illustrating how we translate our scientific understanding into mathematical models and in turn use computer technology to solve the mathematics.

Jason Cole is a research scientist at the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis (CCCma), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). He works on development and improvement of atmospheric processes in the Canadian Earth System Model and its evaluation using satellite-based observations. Dr. Cole was granted his PhD and MSc in Meteorology from The Pennsylvania State University after having obtained his BSc in Physics and Atmospheric Sciences from McGill University.

Astronomy workshop for teachers

Jan.23 to Feb.10 2017

Is astronomy part of your school curriculum but you feel uncomfortable teaching it to your students? We have the solution! Discover the Universe offers a free online astronomy workshop for teachers. In this workshop, we will cover many astronomy subjects such as phases of the Moon and the Solar system and we will provide material and activities to use in class.

For information and registration: www.discovertheuniverse.ca

Why is STEM Important to Physics?

Dave Doucette, OAPT Vice-President

Lisa Lim-Cole OAPT Past President

A recent OAPT Newsletter article from John Caranci laments the fact that over the past decade, despite an increase in the total number of Ontario grade 12 physics credits, the percentage of females has remained at around 31%. John insightfully suggests looking at elementary education and we agree. But to better understand the challenge we need to have a good understanding of the shifting landscape in elementary education. The inquiry-based learning approach which anchors the curriculum is now being stressed by a newcomer to the field: STEM education. The good news is that STEM and inquiry are totally complementary — and both require habits of mind exemplified by physics instruction. If we work together to support K-8 educators in successfully marrying inquiry with STEM education, we are likely to see far more students selecting secondary physics course, including more females. A worthy goal! Read More...
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