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Greening Electricity Using Project Drawdown for Grades 9-12

Milica Rakic, Essex DHS
Roberta Tevlin, retired

In order to prevent the worst of climate change, the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) has to be reduced as fast as possible. The enormity of this task can look overwhelming and can lead to climate despair. However, we already have the technology we need and a great source of information about this can be found on the website of Project Drawdown where they provide details of almost 100 solutions.

The goal of Project Drawdown is to show how we can ‘drawdown’ the emission of GHGs and then ‘drawdown’ the amount of these gases that are already in the air. This article shows how you can have your students examine 19 of these solutions which are involved in the production and use of electrical energy. This exercise is a good fit for the electricity unit in grade 9 science, the climate change unit in grade 10 science, the electricity unit in grade 11 university physics, and the energy transformation unit in grade 12 college physics. Read More...

High School Physics Teachers Evening at York University

Randy Lewis, Department of Physics and Astronomy, York University

All high school physics teachers are warmly invited to York University at 5:30 p.m. on Friday November 3, 2023. Professors in our Department of Physics and Astronomy value this annual event and are looking forward to connecting with high school teachers again this year.

Three York professors will give short talks about their research. You can see our telescope (which is the largest on any university campus in Canada) observing the opposition of Jupiter. Dinner and drinks will be provided, and there will be opportunities for casual conversations with familiar friends and new colleagues. We also have a few textbooks that are no longer needed at York, and we are glad to donate these to any high school teachers who can make good use of them.

Details can be found at this website: https://www.yorku.ca/science/physics/outreach/high-school-teachers-night/

Best wishes for the school year, and we hope to see you at York!

Two Excellent Simulations from PhET to Help Explain the Greenhouse Effect

Michelle Lee, Lisgar C. I.
Roberta Tevlin,Retired

Understanding the greenhouse effect is critical to understanding climate change and PhET has two excellent simulations that can help. This article describes how you can use these two simulations and a couple of supporting videos, to help your students develop a good understanding of the topic. This is most obviously relevant to the grade 10 Climate Change Unit. It is also relevant to grade 9 Astronomy and Ecosystems, Grade 10 Optics, and senior chemistry and physics. Read More...

Call for Articles

Eric Haller, Peel District School Board, Editor of the OAPT Newsletter

It’s the start of another school year and the OAPT is once again looking for submissions for the newsletter. The newsletter is made possible by volunteers who contribute their thoughts and ideas for others to use in their classrooms. Many of our writers are Ontario high school teachers, however some of our writers teach in university, work abroad, work in science outreach, have retired, or have even left the teaching profession for some other career that involves physics. We have numerous writers who pen something for us regularly, but we are always on the lookout for new writers as well (writing for us looks great on a resume).

If you’re interested in writing for us but are looking for inspiration, a topical theme in education at the moment is of course climate change. Destreaming is relevant now too, students who took the destreamed grade 9 science class last year are now taking streamed grade 10 science classes, which has left some gaps in their education, which could be discussed in an article. Many school boards are handling the streamed grade 10 science courses differently as we wait for the grade 10 destreamed curriculum to be released, with some boards still offering SNC2P, and other boards forcing students to take SNC2D. The James Webb Space Telescope has been operational for some time now, some readers might want to know how we can incorporate its findings thus far into our classrooms. And there’s a total solar eclipse coming for some Ontarians on April 8th, 2024, which many teachers will want resources for. A lesson, or possible field trip ideas, would be great to help teachers take advantage of this [roughly] once-in-a-lifetime event. In addition to those topics, many teachers are incorporating indigenous stories, knowledge, and history into their science lessons now, and there is a growing demand for resources to help teachers continue to do so in a meaningful, and respectful way. If none of those topics sparked your interest though, we are always looking for our mainstays, like the following: Read More...

Short Physics Presentations Available for Livestreaming

Greetings educators!

Orbax here from the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph.

At the University of Guelph, Physics Education research has long been a field of interest and Science Communication is something we take particular interest in. In 2017 Dr. Joanne O'Meara created a class that is now known as IPS3000, a third year science communication course which is a requirement of all our Physics Undergrads. In this class they focus on, and are required to produce, science communication in all its forms from scholarly essays to podcasts to videos to even newspaper articles!

Over the last couple of years the course has been taught by Dr. Alex Gezerlis and we are looking for high school classes who would be interested in helping our physics students become better communicators. Our undergrads have been honing their public speaking skills and have developed a series of short presentations that they would like to livestream directly to your classrooms.

Resources for Teaching About Climate Change

Developed by James Ball, Iain Braithwaite, Michelle Lee, Robert Prior, Milica Rakic, Dale Simnett, and Roberta Tevlin.

Climate Change is moving fast and our window of opportunity to act decisively is shrinking. As science teachers, we can contribute to the solution by making sure that Climate Change is being taught, and taught well. We have been working this summer to develop ready-to-use resources to help you and your colleagues. Read More...

Review: Smokejumpers

Robert Prior, ePublisher of OAPT Newsletter

After this summer, wildfires will remain front-page news, and not just in places that are under threat of burning. How can you do hands-on activities in class with something so destructive? And why would you want to?

The “why?” is an easy question to answer. Not only are wildfires topical, but our students have been affected by them: by smoke almost certainly, possibly even worse (depending on where they are). Certain public figures have been throwing around blame for the many wildfires and the failure of fire crews to immediately extinguish them. An understanding of how wildfires are fought, as well as the costs and risks of doing so, will help our students appreciate the reasons we have so many burning wildfires, and hopefully help them learn to distinguish between serious questions and political point-scoring.

That's where this simulation comes in. It's a solitaire tabletop game placing the player in the position of fire chief, responsible for containing wildfires for an entire season with a limited budget. The player deploys fire crews, aircraft, and other resources while the ignition and spread of fires is governed by rules based on the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System, which is backed by over 50 years of research. Read More...

Hands-On Climate Change Activities

Iain Braithwaite, John F. Ross C.V.I.
Roberta Tevlin, retired

Climate change can feel very threatening and at the same time it can feel very abstract. Demonstrations that use simple materials can help students understand the concepts better, and they provide a change of pace. We have gathered a collection of nineteen demonstrations to help with the grade 10 Climate Change unit, both SNC2P and SNC2D. Read More...

Schrödinger's Class

John Donohue, IQC Senior Manager, Scientific Outreach

Date: December 1-3, 2023
Location: Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, Ontario

The Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) has a free workshop on quantum mechanics and quantum technology taking place December 1-3 on the University of Waterloo campus. Schrödinger's Class will provide you with lesson plans and affordable, ready-to-go activities explained by quantum experts to take back to your classroom. Applications are due Monday October 16th. Financial support for travel and accommodations is available.

What Can the OAPT (And You) Do about Climate Change?

Roberta Tevlin, Retired Teacher

Are you concerned about climate change? Do you wonder what you can do? A group of OAPT members have got together to help OAPT members to take action. We have some suggestions. Read More...

The (Engineering) Design Process in the New Science Curriculum

Chris Meyer, Past President of the OAPT

The revised grade 9 science curriculum introduces a new problem-solving process that might not be familiar to many teachers: the (engineering) design process. Let's explore this problem-solving strategy and examine some design tasks that I have created for grade 9 science. Read on! Read More...

Advanced Curve Fitting in Desmos

Eric Haller, Peel District School Board, Editor of the OAPT Newsletter

Often, we ask students to do an experiment, gather a set of two-variable data, make a scatter plot, and then try to find the curve of best fit, along with its equation. Historically, Microsoft Excel was the go-to for doing something like this, however nowadays I find my students are most comfortable using Desmos to graph things, because it’s free, simple to use, and doesn’t require any installation or logging in. Desmos is great for making scatter plots and fitting curves, and it can even fit curves beyond Excel’s ‘Add Trendline’ functionality, which is limited to exponential, power, logarithmic, and polynomial-types of curves (Excel can do additional curves, but it's tricky, check out my previous article for instructions on how to do that if you like). In this article, I’d like to go over how you can do a curve of best fit in Desmos, even for complicated curves like what you would find with a damped harmonic oscillator experiment, or with Kepler's third law of planetary motion. Read More...

Reflections on My Journey Destreaming Grade 9

Brad Dixon, Destreaming Coach, Minor Head of Science, Guelph CVI, UGDSB
Twitter: @TeachingMrDixon

The first semester of destreaming grade 9 science has now come to a close. If you were someone like me who was involved in math as well, you might be 3 semesters deep at this point. Regardless, semester change is always a great time to reflect on what has happened. If you are destreaming, a lot has likely happened.

This year I've had the privilege of being a leader in my school, working to iron out the kinks in the destreaming process in both math and science. This has given me the opportunity to work with many teachers, and also the time to reflect on what the wins and losses are so far.

For those of you deep in the destreaming weeds right now, I have compiled some of my reflections, lessons learned, and some advice that hopefully can help some of you. Read More...

Virtual Physics Hour: Post-Secondary in the Post-Pandemic Era

Please join us for our second virtual physics hour March 1st at 7pm EST. This session will feature a panel from post secondary institutions who will reflect on what first year physics (and science programs) look like post pandemic. If you are interested in joining us, please fill out the google form here. This again is not restricted to OAPT membership so feel free to pass it along to those you feel would be interested!

TIPERs: Sensemaking Tasks for Introductory Physics

Robert Prior, ePublisher OAPT Newsletter

Getting students to think about a problem, as opposed to simply plugging numbers into a formula, is a never-ending challenge. It is possible to design exercises that focus attention on concepts, but it is difficult, and most textbook questions are of the plug-and-chug variety.

This book provides a collection of exercises that emphasize conceptual reasoning, many of which are useful for high school physics classes. Read More...

The 45th Annual OAPT Conference - Registration Now Open!

The OAPT is pleased to return to its traditional 3-day in-person conference in 2023! We are looking forward to connecting with new members and welcoming back returning members. Take advantage to (re)connect with educators from across the province at Perimeter Institute in Waterloo from Thursday May 4 until Saturday May 6.

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The Joly Photometer

Eric Haller, Editor-in-Chief of the OAPT Newsletter, Peel District School Board
Robert Prior, ePublisher of OAPT Newsletter

There’s a lot of physics hidden in the grade nine curriculum, if you know where to look. For example, the inverse-square law appears in the space unit, as part of the reason scientists know how far away stars are. It is often presented as a given, but deriving it from experimental evidence is a neat way to use a hands-on activity to show the process of science.

How did physicists measure light before they had photometers? John Joly, FRS, invented a comparative photometer over a century ago. We’ve used this simple device to explore the inverse-square law in a totally low-tech way. Read More...

Physics Competition Juror Opportunity (CaYPT 2023)

Jim Chen, Physics Graduate Student, University of Toronto

The Canadian Young Physicists’ Tournament (CaYPT) is a national high school research-based competition that also serves as a selection competition for the International Young Physicists’ Tournament (IYPT). In teams of 3-5, students conduct research on 10 open-ended physics problems with no definite solution. Students develop their own theoretical model, apply their physics knowledge and debate with other teams about their solutions to the problems.

CaYPT is looking for jurors to evaluate student presentations and give students a score based on the quality of their theoretical model, experimental results and overall presentation, including their discussion with other students. An honorarium of $70 is provided per half day of juror work. Read More...

First Impressions of ChatGPT

Robert Prior, ePublisher of OAPT Newsletter

The new artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT, from OpenAI, has been in the news lately, with many pearls clutched about the possibilities of students using it to cheat, while boosters have proclaimed that it is poised to revolutionize teaching.

I’ve spent some time playing with it, and at the moment it doesn’t match the hyperbole of either side. Read More...

Skill Fluency and Memory Consolidation in Grade 9 Science

By Chris Meyer, Past-President, OAPT

Does it seem like students are getting slower and slower when working on a quiz? Do they behave like a gas, expanding to take up all the time for the test no matter how much time you provide? Why is this happening? The answer to this is likely complex. Students are more anxious and risk averse than in the past and are desperate to avoid “losing” any marks. These are cultural factors that are very hard for us to control. But another factor is that we don't train students to be fast! Speed or fluency is seldom an explicit goal of our science instruction. Read More...
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