September 22, 2021 Filed in: Articles
Joanne O’Meara, Professor, Department of Physics, University of Guelph
When people think about what physicists do, they often jump directly to the esoteric, like quarks or globular clusters, and don’t necessarily see the myriad connections of physics to our everyday experiences. I’m not criticizing those among us devoted to the esoteric, but I do worry that we are missing out on inspiring and engaging with a large fraction of the science-curious by not taking the time to explore some of the fascinating physics on display in the natural world. As physicists, we are practiced at the art of asking ourselves Why? when we observe something beautiful, unusual, or unexpected, and the feeling that comes from figuring out the answer is what keeps us exploring. I love being able to bring these little explorations into my classroom, especially when I’m teaching first-year physics to biological science students, as helping them to see the relevance of what they are learning can have a profound effect on their motivation. From the beauty of a double rainbow, to penguins using bubbles to reduce drag, or the effect of polarization of scattered light on flies looking for someone/thing to bite, I love that look of wonder and appreciation on my students’ faces when we take a short tangent to extend our learning in optics or mechanics. Read More...
May 05, 2019 Filed in: Articles
Tim McCarthy, Teacher, St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School
Controlled experiments with three factors are a great way for physics students to practice identifying and testing factors that may affect a situation. They provide an excellent opportunity to practice the Scientific Investigation Skills found in Strand A. The students are provided with a situation, brainstorm possible factors that may affect the situation, reduce the list of factors to three that can be tested in the physics lab, develop hypotheses, design procedures to test the factors, test the factors, analyze the data, perform experimental error analysis, and draw conclusions on the effects the three factors have had on the original situation.
My struggle has been to find situations that easily fit this format and that also match the curriculum specific expectations. I have created one three-factor controlled experiment for each of the six units in my 12C physics course. The three-factor experiment in the first unit is used as assessment for learning (formative) to teach the students how to do a controlled experiment. The remaining five experiments are used as assessment of learning (summative). Simulations are used for some experiments as I do not have the necessary equipment to perform all them in the lab. Read More...
June 04, 2018 Filed in: Articles
Teacher at Danforth CTI, Manager OAPT Newsletter
The concept of fields is fundamental to our modern understanding of physics and the Ontario curriculum dedicates one of the five units in 12U physics to Gravitational, Electric and Magnetic Fields. I have struggled for many years to find ways to make this important but abstract concept more tangible to my students. Here is what I have come up with so far. Read More...
July 01, 2009 Filed in: Demo Corner
Dave Doucette (OAPT President) Richmond Hill High School, Richmond Hill, Ontario
Several years ago I was in need of a cheap, easily assembled, sensitive magnetometer. The intent was to design a tool for students to palpably observe the magnetic field around a current carrying conductor. Deflection of a compass needle lacked the ‘wow factor’ I sought. The solution turned out to be beautiful in its simplicity. Read More...
September 01, 2006 Filed in: Demo Corner
Leigh Palmer, Simon Fraser University
Here's a demonstration that will make your students think more carefully about the meanings of the terms voltage, electromotive force, and potential difference. A transformer is necessary for the demonstration. Read More...
March 01, 2006 Filed in: Demo Corner
John Pitre, University of Toronto
In the December 2004 issue of The Physics Teacher
, Christopher Chiaverina described a motor consisting of four components: a battery, a cylindrical rare earth magnet, a small piece of copper wire, and a steel nail. Since I know that many of our members do not have ready access to this journal, I have essentially reproduced his article here. Read More...
January 01, 2001 Filed in: Demo Corner
Peter Scovil, Waterford, ON
I like music, and enjoy playing the guitar, so the following demo caught my eye (or ear?). It was in the Jan. '95 issue of The Physics Teacher
(p.58) by G.R. Davies of South Africa. It is a good example of electromagnetic induction that is easy for students to understand. Read More...
June 01, 1998 Filed in: Demo Corner
John M. Pitre, Department of Physics, University of Toronto
In the January 1997 issue of The Physics Teacher
, two articles appeared detailing the use of rare earth magnets to demonstrate Lenz’s Law in the classroom. The principle involved is that a permanent magnet falling through a tubular conductor will induce a current in the conductor and hence a magnetic field which will oppose the magnetic field of the permanent magnet and thus slow its rate of fall. This article gives variations of the methods discussed in those papers. Read More...
June 01, 1997 Filed in: Demo Corner
Alan Hirsch, Port Credit SS, Mississauga
What physics toy have you seen that can attract the attention of every passerby in a mall during the December shopping rush? And what toy can you expect your physics students to exclaim “hey, cool” when they see it? The answer to each of these questions is the same: The Levitron
: The Amazing Antigravity Top. Read More...
November 01, 1995 Filed in: Demo Corner
John Childs, Grenville Christian College, Brockville
Two demonstrations from John Childs. Read More...
March 01, 1994 Filed in: Demo Corner
John Earnshaw, Trent University
The author presents three demonstrations: a large pendulum, the centre of mass of a person, and the magnetic force on a beam of electrons. Read More...
March 01, 1991 Filed in: Demo Corner
Frank Allan, Science Co-ordinator, Ottawa Board of Education
The world’s simplest speaker can be constructed in a matter of seconds. Read More...
December 01, 1990 Filed in: Demo Corner
Robert Ehrlich, Physics Department, George Mason University
The world's simplest motor can be constructed in less than five minutes. Read More...
December 01, 1989 Filed in: Demo Corner
Peter Scovil, Waterford District High School
Have you had difficulties explaining to students the complexities of the D.C. motor? Read More...