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2024

# Kinematics is Boring: Taking the Arithmetic Out

John Caranci, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/U. of T., CTL Lecturer Intermediate/Senior Physics, Chemistry, Science
john.caranci@utoronto.ca

A while ago when I taught high school my grade 10 Science class came into my classroom after my grade 11 physics class had left. I had just done a lesson on the development of the kinematic formulae using graphing. One of my grade 10 students seemed mesmerized by the boards covered in figures and diagrams. They turned to me and asked what was on the board. I said kinematics, which is part of the grade 11 physics course. Their response was “I guess it will be biology next year for me.” What makes kinematics like this? Is it the mathematics? Is it the lack of relationship to the real world (ignoring friction)?

I began playing with alternatives to present the topic. I recognized it was not the authentic or real-world connections, it appeared to be the arithmetic. Notice, I did not say the mathematics or physics. Many times, a simple arithmetical mistake (even to the point of a miss-written minus sign), might cause them to believe that their whole solution, and therefore their understanding of kinematics, is wrong.

When a student approaches a kinematics problem, they usually draw the sketches and list what’s given and what’s required. Then they choose the formula. That is where the physics ends, and the arithmetic starts. As physics teachers, do we assess physics or arithmetic? Read More...

# En-ROADS: A Powerful Simulator to Explore Solutions to Climate Change

Roberta Tevlin (retired physics teacher)
roberta@tevlin.ca

Do yourself a favour and go to https://www.climateinteractive.org/ and select EN-ROADS, the first large button available. Play around with the simulator for a bit and then come back to this article to learn how you can use it. Read More...

# A Video Analysis as an End of Unit Assessment

Dale Simnett, Peel District School Board
dale.simnett@peelsb.com

Friends, Peers, Physics Teachers,
The use of video in physics as a means of teaching and learning is as old as optic obscura. I’m sure most physics teachers have a video analysis project that they can dust off and give to their students. Identifying the terrible physics in cartoons, superhero movies, or more recently, the Fast and Furious series, is a right of passage in physics teaching!

Observing the world, making measurements, and trying to make sense of what we see is at the heart of physics. Why not make that a goal in our teaching as well as our assessment? I propose using a video analysis as an end of unit assessment.

Why should you try video analysis as an assessment? Here is my case. Read More...

# Hamilton, McMaster, and the April 8 Eclipse

Dr. Robert Cockcroft, Assistant Professor / Director, William J. McCallion Planetarium / Secretary, Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA)
cockcroft@mcmaster.ca

Hamilton and McMaster University are lucky to be positioned along the path of totality for the upcoming April 8th eclipse, and as such, both have been preparing for it for some time now. McMaster’s Provost has purchased 600 000 solar eclipse viewing glasses, enough for every Hamiltonian, so that you can use them to view the Sun while it is partially covered by the Moon leading up to, and after, totality. These free viewers are available while supplies last at the Hamilton and Haldimand library branches, the McMaster University libraries, and the Burlington libraries. They are also being distributed through participating school boards.

Why do total solar eclipses capture the imagination of so many people, whether or not you’re in science? I offer three answers that spring immediately to mind. Read More...

# Quantum for Educators 2024 Workshop

John Donohue, IQC Senior Manager, Scientific Outreach
jdonohue@uwaterloo.ca

Date: July 29-31, 2024
Location: Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, Ontario

The Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo is excited to announce our 2024 free in-person summer workshop on quantum mechanics and quantum technology.

The 10th Quantum for Educators (QEd) workshop (formerly known as Schrödinger’s Class) will take place July 29-31 this year. Led by quantum experts from the IQC, QEd will explore fundamental quantum principles like superposition, wave-particle duality, and entanglement and show how they are applied in emerging technologies like quantum computing. Participants can expect to leave with affordable activities and accessible lesson plans with concrete curriculum connections to take back to their classrooms.

Financial support for travel and accommodations is available for Canadian teachers. Applications are due Friday May 3rd.

# The What, Why and How of the April 8, 2024 Eclipse

Orbax, Production Specialist for Physics Education Content, Dept of Physics, University of Guelph
orbax@uoguelph.ca

Greetings educators! Orbax here from the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph.

I’m here to speak to you today about a very important topic.

You’re likely aware of a newly discovered disease that has been sweeping across Ontario in the last few weeks.

Eclipse fever has taken hold and it’s taking over news broadcasts, school board meetings, targeted ads and classrooms throughout our province. Read More...

# To Be or Not to Be Eclipsed: The Path of Totality!

Olga Michalopoulos (Retired)
michalopouloso@hdsb.ca

A rare phenomenon that only comes around once in a lifetime is set to take place in Ontario this spring. A total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, 2024 will turn daytime into darkness in Ontario, and we have an opportunity to share this experience with our students. The last time a total solar eclipse took place in Canada was August 2008, but it was only visible in Nunavut.

Did you know that the chance of seeing a total solar eclipse in any one location on the Earth is about once every 400 years? For instance, the next total solar eclipse to be visible in the GTA won’t occur until October 26, 2144! This is why it’s referred to as a “once in a lifetime” event.

First, a little astronomy background. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting a shadow on the Earth that either partially or completely blocks the light from the Sun on the areas of the Earth where the shadow falls. Read More...

# Calculating a Planet’s Temperature

Shawn Brooks, UTS (University of Toronto Schools)
sbrooks@utschools.ca

With just a little coaxing, and a little help from their calculators, our grade 10 science students can use a simple energy-balance type of climate model to calculate the average temperature of a planet.

With this activity, your students will be able to calculate what the earth’s average surface temperature would be if it didn’t have a greenhouse gas containing atmosphere.

This one-period activity can show your students how the numerical value of Earth’s albedo (0.3) is very meaningful to our planet’s temperature! If you are looking to inject a little more physics into your Earth and Space Science: Climate Change unit, this might be the thing for you. Read More...