2023

April 18, 2023 Filed in: Articles

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...

March 18, 2023 Filed in: Articles

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...

February 26, 2023 Filed in: Articles

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...

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...

February 25, 2023 Filed in: Announcements

Please join us for our second virtual physics hour March 1^{st} 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!

February 14, 2023 Filed in: Review

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...

February 09, 2023 Filed in: Announcements

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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February 05, 2023 Filed in: Articles

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...

February 05, 2023 Filed in: Announcements

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...

January 28, 2023 Filed in: Articles

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...

January 12, 2023 Filed in: Articles

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...