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The Story of Physics: Storytelling for High School Physics Teaching

Brian Lim, Teacher Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, Toronto

“In the beginning…”

So starts one of the most famous and influential stories in Western civilization. Neil Degrasse Tyson continues the narrative this way:

“...sometime between 12 and 16 billion years ago, all the space and all the matter and all the energy of the known universe was contained in a volume less than one-trillionth the size of the point of a pin. Conditions were so hot, the basic forces of nature that collectively describe the universe were unified. For reasons unknown, this sub-pin-pint-size cosmos began to expand…” [1] Read More...

Photos from the 2019 Conference

Courtesy of Rolly Meisel we have a small gallery of photographs from the 2019 OAPT Conference at IQC in Waterloo. Check it out and relive memories (or see what you missed)!

See the gallery…

Update on the May 22nd OAPT Grade 11 Physics Contest

Shawn Brooks, Manager of the OAPT Contest, teacher at UTS

Sandy Evans, Editor of the OAPT Contest, teacher at Northview Heights Secondary School

This is a reminder about the upcoming FREE OAPT Physics Contest on May 22nd. This year, for the first time, the contest will be open to BOTH Grade 11 AND Grade 12 students due to the generous support of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto. Read More...

Controlled Experiments with Three Factors in SPH4C Grade 12 College Physics

Tim McCarthy, Teacher, St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School

Controlled experiments with three factors are a great way for physics students to practice identifying and testing factors that may affect a situation. They provide an excellent opportunity to practice the Scientific Investigation Skills found in Strand A. The students are provided with a situation, brainstorm possible factors that may affect the situation, reduce the list of factors to three that can be tested in the physics lab, develop hypotheses, design procedures to test the factors, test the factors, analyze the data, perform experimental error analysis, and draw conclusions on the effects the three factors have had on the original situation.

My struggle has been to find situations that easily fit this format and that also match the curriculum specific expectations. I have created one three-factor controlled experiment for each of the six units in my 12C physics course. The three-factor experiment in the first unit is used as assessment for learning (formative) to teach the students how to do a controlled experiment. The remaining five experiments are used as assessment of learning (summative). Simulations are used for some experiments as I do not have the necessary equipment to perform all them in the lab. Read More...

Marking Tests Faster

Robert Prior, teacher at Agincourt CI

Many of us find marking tests a necessary chore. It has to be done, but it’s drudgery. This article describes how I use an app and the Ontario Achievement Charts to mark tests 2-3 times faster, as well as analyze the results. Read More...

Intersection Traffic Signals: Coding to Control Series and Parallel Circuits in Grade 12 College Physics and Grade 11 University Physics

Tim McCarthy, Teacher, St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School, Oakville, ON

Coding is an important skill for physics students to learn. Grade 12 College and Grade 11 University physics students must build series and parallel circuits, so why not use coding to control them and model an everyday, real-world situation? This can be done by first using TinkerCAD simulations, followed by construction of the simulation using real components; Arduino UNO R3 microcontroller boards, breadboards, LEDs, resistors and wires. Students have a high level of satisfaction as they complete a task that is brand new to most and learn skills that they are likely to need in their post-secondary education. Read More...

Light ’Em Up!!! – Electric Greeting Cards for the Grade 9 Electricity unit

Andrew Moffat, Teacher Bishop Strachan School

Students often struggle with the “Physics” unit in grade 9 Science — electricity. This can lead to a negative association with Physics and fewer students taking grade 11 and 12 Physics. At our school we have tried to make the electricity unit (and specifically the idea of circuits) more fun and engaging by having students create an electric greeting card consisting of LEDs and a battery. This can be done for around $2 per student. Read More...

Event Horizon Telescope Captures First-ever Image of a Black Hole

Damian Pope, PhD, Senior Manager Scientific Outreach, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

What is the Event Horizon Telescope?
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a network of radio telescopes spread across the globe. By pooling data from each instrument, it achieves the same effective resolution as a dish the size of the entire planet!

What did it discover?
The EHT collaboration has just released the first event-horizon-scale images of M87*, a supermassive black hole at the centre of galaxy M87. The image shows an asymmetric ring of light surrounding a circular shadow. The ring of light is not the accretion disk, it is the footprint of the relativistic jet created by M87*. The asymmetry is evidence for the direction of the black hole’s spin. The size of the shadow reveals the mass of M87* which can then be used to calculate the radius of the event horizon. Note, the shadow is not the event horizon. Read More...

Making Waves — a resource for exploring interference concepts

Philip Freeman, teacher at Richmond Secondary School (Richmond BC), Executive member BCAPT

Waves are the source of many of the most beautiful and fascinating phenomena in physics, and a key idea underlying our deepest models of reality. The signature feature of waves is interference, and we frequently refer to interference effects to justify our claims about the wave nature of light (and electrons, and buckyballs, and…). This resource provides a new way to model waves that allows a more direct and intuition-building experience of interference. Read More...

2019 OAPT Physics Contest is Open for Enrollment!

Sandy Evans, Editor OAPT Physics Contest, Teacher Northview Secondary School

The OAPT Contest is a FREE physics contest and will run on May 22nd, 2019. It is free due to the generous support of the Department of Engineering at the University of Toronto.
It is open to all students in currently attending school in Ontario who had not completed 11U Physics in September 2018. There is even a strong possibility that it will be open in a separate division for Grade 12 students this year — more news about this to come! Read More...

Building Confidence and Motivation with Short Building Projects

Margaret Scora, OAPT Past President,

Roberta Tevlin, Editor OAPT Newsletter, teacher Danforth CTI

Mari-Ann Goettsch, teacher at Georgetown DHS

Over the past couple of decades there has been a dramatic decline in students’ abilities to build and solve hands-on challenges. They are well versed in virtual reality but they don’t have much experience in how to work with materials. This is a shame. They are at a disadvantage when learning physics concepts and they will have huge problems with large projects like trebuchets or Rube-Goldberg machines. In this article we will describe a number of very short hands-on projects that provide opportunities to build stuff using cheap materials. Read More...

Quizlet Live!

Steve Fotheringham, OAPT Treasurer

Are you looking for a quick way to assess your class’ understanding of a topic, a way to easily integrate technology into your lessons or a way to break up the routine of your class? If you answered “yes” to even one of these questions, let me introduce you to Quizlet. Read More...

Why Don’t Students Improve? Part II

Chris Meyer, President, Ontario Association of Physics Teachers; Hybrid Teacher-Coach, TDSB

So you put all that time and effort into carefully marking the test, including helpful descriptive feedback, and what happens? The student grabs the test, looks at the mark, and tosses it away. Us teachers understand that a test is an important learning experience, but this common student behaviour shows students think otherwise: a test is just a chance for us to deny them marks or sort out the strong students from the weak (a ranking they already know). From that viewpoint, why should a student do anything more than look at the mark and/or complain? And why bother to look at the feedback and make any effort to improve? Read More...

Why Don’t Students Improve? Part I

Chris Meyer, President, Ontario Association of Physics Teachers; Hybrid Teacher-Coach, TDSB

For years it drove me crazy. I would remind students again and again about common mistakes and important details; I would make a grand production of it. But, they would make the same errors again and again. Why? A big part of the answer is this: my students never practiced assessing the quality of their own work and making improvements. This is the idea behind metacognition: the ability to monitor the process and quality of one’s own thinking and work. If we don’t train our students and give them opportunities to practice metacognition, they won’t develop this important skill. And they won’t improve. Read More...


Adam Mills, OAPT Workshop Coordinator, Teacher - Assumption College Catholic High School

One tool that has really helped change the look of my Physics classroom is Edpuzzle. https://edpuzzle.com/ Edpuzzle is a website that allows teachers to embed questions within videos already created from YouTube or other sources. I find this tool particularly useful to help minimize the amount of direct instruction that I am giving my students in class. This allows my students more time to participate in richer educational strategies such as peer instruction, cooperative group problem solving and inquiry based learning. Read More...
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