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Reflecting on 2020-2021

Ashley McCarl Palmer, Waterloo Region District School Board, OAPT Vice-President
ashley_mccarlpalmer@wrdsb.ca or @physicswithmcp on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube

As we move into the end of a very difficult and challenging school year, I think it is natural to take some time to reflect on where we are now compared to where we were last September (or even last winter, pre-pandemic). Once you’ve taken some time to do what makes you happy, refill the tank or bucket or whatever metaphor you wish to use, and feel like you have the energy, I encourage you to reflect on what we've all accomplished as a community of educators. Some things we have had to learn quickly, like a new technology platform, or perhaps a different approach that has surfaced in the classroom when we were forced into hybrid or distance learning. I think it's good for all teachers to think about practices we’ve used over a school year and think about which ones we’d like to keep and what we will let go of and thank them for what they have given us (a little Marie Kondo for those of you who, like me, ended up organizing the house last March after watching her show on Netflix). Read More...

The Rifleman’s Rule

Eric Haller, Secondary Long Term Occasional Teacher, Peel District School Board
eric.haller@peelsb.com

A couple of years ago I bought a bow and got into the sport of archery. To improve my accuracy at the range, I decided to invest in a laser rangefinder that could tell me the distance to my target, and its angle of elevation/depression. After using it for the first time, I discovered a third feature I was not aware of, the “Angle Intelligence™ Distance” (as it is referred to in the HALO OPTICS user’s manual). Interestingly, the rangefinder takes the angle of elevation/depression and the line-of-sight distance to the target into account, and calculates the adjusted distance to the target, as though I were instead shooting at a target across a perfectly horizontal field. Reading through the entire user’s manual, I couldn’t find any mention of what formula they used for the calculation, so I figured I would try working it out for myself. After a few hours of trying with a pen and paper, I discovered it was a lot more difficult of a problem than I had initially thought; so I turned to the internet. I eventually found the formula I was looking for; named the “rifleman’s rule.” The rule is fairly complicated to derive, however no part of the derivation requires anything beyond a grade 12 understanding of physics or math. This article will guide you through the derivation of the rifleman’s rule. You could work through it with your students, use this knowledge to help your school’s archery team, or even perhaps use it in the field yourself. Read More...

Physics for Penguins: A Project for Grade 10 Science

Robert Prior, ePublisher of OAPT Newsletter
science@robertprior.ca

The grade ten climate unit is often neglected. This is unfortunate, not only because it is the most relevant unit for our students, who will be dealing with a changing climate, but because it deals with many physics concepts.

Here is a project I use with my grade ten students. It’s a fun, hands-on way for students to demonstrate that they understand basic concepts relating to thermal energy and energy transfer — key topics in grade 11 physics! Read More...

Fast Feedback

Felipe Almeida, Toronto District School Board
felipe.almeida@tdsb.on.ca

As every student in an introductory physics course (like SPH3U, the grade 11 physics course in Ontario) is untrained, all their practice should be portioned appropriately in both task and problem. I have created scaffolded practice problems for the grade 11 physics course in Google Forms so students can submit their responses for immediate feedback. The forms are intended to save time and make practice/‘homework’ more meaningful and rewarding for both teachers and students. A previous article presented the forms used for portioned practice, this article will present fast feedback.
Read More...

Portioned Practice

Felipe Almeida, Toronto District School Board
felipe.almeida@tdsb.on.ca

As every student in an introductory physics course (like SPH3U, the grade 11 physics course in Ontario) is untrained, all their practice should be portioned appropriately in both task and problem. I have created scaffolded practice problems for the grade 11 physics course in Google Forms so students can submit their responses for immediate feedback. The forms are intended to save time and make practice/‘homework’ more meaningful and rewarding for both teachers and students. This article presents the forms used for portioned practice, a future article will present fast feedback. Read More...

The Plinko Model for Energy in Electric Circuits

Chris Meyer, President, Ontario Association of Physics Teachers
chris_meyer1@sympatico.ca

When it comes to the study of electricity, it is the simplest ideas that students understand the worst. This is because electricity does its thing invisibly, so our job as teachers is to help make those microscopic goings-on visible. To do this, we create conceptual models that allow us to visualize what happens inside a circuit. I would like to share with you the resources I have created. Read More...

Red-Hot Steel vs. Frozen Lake: A Real-World Energy Problem

Robert Prior, ePublisher of OAPT Newsletter
science@robertprior.ca

What happens when you heat a 20 kg cylinder of steel red-hot, and put it on a frozen lake? This may look like a silly question, but Lauri and Anni Vuohensilta — the crazy Finns of Beyond the Press — did it, and it makes a nice guided inquiry activity for exploring energy transfer in the grade 11 physics. Read More...

Physics Labs For Independent Learning

Daniel Muttiah
daniel.muttiah@tdsb.on.ca

My first-year physics professor, Dr. D.S. Scott, in my first year of university said something that has stayed with me over the years. During one of his lectures he asked the question: where is the best physics lab located? There were various responses from different students and his response was a no to all the major labs mentioned. Finally he responded with the statement: the best physics lab is the world around you. I have not forgotten Professor Scott's words of wisdom which have inspired me over the years, both in my learning and in my teaching. Read More...

So You Wanna Go Gradeless…

Ashley McCarl Palmer, WRDSB Teacher
ashley_mccarlpalmer@wrdsb.ca or @physicswithmcp

As we move forward in the pandemic, education is finally taking a huge leap as many educators abandon their old ways of teaching and trying something new. For some, they have heard about this wave of people going “gradeless” and they are curious about what it is about. For others, they look at their old methods of assessing and recognize that tests may not cut it anymore… and if you get rid of tests (or things that were traditionally numerically marked) then what goes into a student’s grade? Or perhaps more importantly, why even grade them at all? Read More...

Using Quizlet with your Virtual Classes

Steven Fotheringham, Halton District School Board
fotheringhas@hdsb.ca

As you prepare your classes for the new quadmester, you will be looking for new ways for your students to make connections with one another. Whether your classes are in-person, virtual or blended, you can try Quizlet in your classes. I have had a lot of success integrating Quizlet Live into my virtual teaching practice. Here's a quick overview of how Quizlet can be used in virtual classes. Read More...

Review: Phyphox

Robert Prior, ePublisher of OAPT Newsletter
science@robertprior.ca

How do you conduct physics experiments remotely? Most students will not have access to much in the way of measuring equipment, but most of them have smartphones that contain a variety of sophisticated sensors. Phyphox is an award-winning app developed at RWTH Aachen University that allows access to these sensors for performing physics experiments. Read More...
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