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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...

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...

Review: How Far Away Is It?

Robert Prior, ePublisher OAPT Newsletter

There’s a lot of good physics (and math) embedded in the grade nine space unit, if you know where to look for it. David Butler is a retired computer scientist who is fascinated with space, and he’s applied his mathematical background to explaining, in simple terms, what’s behind the fancy pictures we see from NASA, and how we know what we know about the universe. To do this he’s created a series of video books focusing on different topics, as well as hundreds of short classroom-ready video clips on topics ranging from astronomy to quantum mechanics. Read More...

Write Like Einstein: A Review of Harold Geisler’s Einstein Font

Robert Prior, ePublisher of OAPT Newsletter

Have you ever wished you could write like a great scientist? Now you can, with Harald Geisler’s Einstein font. It won’t give you Einstein’s brains or his cool hair, but at least you can have his handwriting. Read More...

Review: Professor Povey’s Perplexing Problems

Vjera Miović, OAPT Newsletter Editor, TDSB teacher

If you are like me, maybe you miss discussing random physics problems with nerdy friends who are scattered around the pandemic-stricken globe. Or you just like interesting puzzles, beyond sudoku and crosswords. Perhaps you are looking for challenging problems for your eager senior students or a contest-prep science club. Here is a good summer read for you: Professor Povey’s Perplexing Problems, by Thomas Povey (2015). Read More...

Review: Phyphox

Robert Prior, ePublisher of OAPT Newsletter

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...

Review: The PocketLab Voyager Bluetooth Sensor

Robert Prior, teacher at Agincourt CI

For years we’ve used computer-connected sensors to do physics. They can be extremely useful, but are expensive and require computers (which in my school are a limited resource). I discovered a pair of cool projects on Kickstarter that solve these problems: the PocketLab Voyager and PocketLab Air, made by Myriad Sensors. I just received my PocketLab Air, so in this article I’ll describe the PocketLab Voyager. Read More...

REVIEW: Three Short Videos of the Double Slit Experiment

Roberta Tevlin, OAPT Editor, Teacher Danforth CTI

The double-slit experiment is one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the wave nature of light and it is also the best place to start to explore the key concepts of quantum physics. By this point, most teachers in Ontario are familiar with the great, free teaching resource from The Perimeter Institute of Theoretical called The Challenge of Quantum Reality. If you haven’t got yours yet, you should! Three short, on-line videos are now available as an addition to the resource. Read More...

REVIEW: Why This is Science not Fiction

Tom Eagan, Teacher St. Thomas Aquinas HS

I have found a channel called The Skeptics Guide to the Universe and it is excellent in so many areas. Generally, I am biased towards talks on physics but this show is entertaining, informative and practical on multiple science levels.  

There are two main parts of the show I use in my classroom and they are Forgotten Superheroes of Science and the Science or Fiction challenge. I would like to share how my use of Science or Fiction has helped me develop authentic scientific inquiry versus memorizing facts for a test. Read More...

Assessment: The Silent Killer of Learning

John Caranci, teacher Faculty of Education University of Toronto

Eric Mazur runs the undergraduate physics program at Harvard University. He began on a road to learn how his students learn. He first removed lecture as a teaching option in his undergraduate courses. He developed Peer Instruction as well as a plan to reform education. He uses PBL (problem-based learning), and Peer Instruction, and other engagement pedagogies in his class instead of lecturing. Read More...

Great Annual Opportunity at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon

Saara Naudts, OAPT Contest Editor, Physics Teacher North Park SS
Each December, teachers from across Canada have an opportunity to experience what goes on at one of Canada’s biggest research facilities. After an easy application process, including a generous amount of available funding and very helpful communication with Tracy Walker the CLS outreach coordinator; I and several other teachers flew out to Saskatoon to visit the synchrotron December 5-7, 2015. Read More...

Review: Eureka Talks: University of Ottawa

Richard Taylor, CAP Councillor for Affiliates, Teacher Merivale High School, Ottawa

The University of Ottawa’s Physics Department has initiated a lecture series they call “Eureka Talks”. The first of these talks was given Saturday January 30, 2016 by Sir John Pendry of Imperial College, London, on the topic of metamaterials and invisibility.

Sadly, I must inform you that Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak is still not available. Even worse, if Harry was invisible, he wouldn't be able to see anything — he’d be in total darkness, with all the light rays bent around him and none going into his eyes! Read More...

Review: Teaching Quantum Technology Workshop at IQC

Shawn Brooks, Contest Manager, Teacher at University of Toronto Schools

I attended the Teaching Quantum Technology (TQT) workshop on Dec. 5th and 6th and left with 12 activities that I could use right away in my classes. Now, the challenge for me is: how can I fit these activities into my grade 11 or grade 12 physics courses? Read More...

Review: Seveneves

Ryan Thompson, OAPT Treasurer, Physics Teacher, Newmarket HS

All physics teachers should read Neal Stephenson. His latest book is called Seveneves, a tale that spans five millennia. Although the book starts off clunky, the premise of it, the explosion of the moon and how this impacts all life on Earth (very badly), drives the story past an awkward beginning to a point where I couldn’t put the book down. I got excited about finding about how humanity would rise above the technological and political challenges it faced to ensure the survival of our species. Read More...

Review: ZipGrade App for iOS and Android

Robert Prior, teacher at Agincourt CI

Are you tired of marking multiple-choice tests? Put away your overlays and highlighters, download ZipGrade to your smartphone, and not only will you save time — you'll also learn more about what your students are really thinking! Read More...

York University: Teaching Astronomy through Hands-On Activities Summer 2015

Ryan Thompson, OAPT Treasurer, Physics Teacher, Newmarket HS

On July 8 and 9th I attended a two day workshop at York University. The purpose of the workshop was to bring astronomy professors and graduate students together with teachers and showcase three modules that the organizers had developed for the teachers to discuss, play with and refine for use in the classroom. The organizers were from a variety of institutions, not just York but everyone was committed to increasing interest in astronomy in students and also their capability for understanding the science around this fascinating topic. Read More...

Review: The Martian

James Ball, OAPT Membership Chair, Physics Teacher, John F. Ross C.V.I.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 luminous gaseous bodies

The Martian is a very entertaining movie, which will appeal to a wide audience. As a physics/science/science teacher I found it to be particularly enjoyable.

I’m going to review it according to the science, technology, engineering and math that it presents (yup that’s STEM). Read More...
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