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Controlled Experiments with Three Factors in SPH4C Grade 12 College Physics

Tim McCarthy, Teacher, St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Secondary School
mccarthyt@hcdsb.org

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...

Physics Experiment Videos and the Rotating Fish Tank

Eric Haller, Occasional Secondary School Teacher, Peel District School Board
rickyhaller@hotmail.com

In science, it’s always nice to be able to do a hands-on experiment. While there are many experiments you can do in class, there are some you can’t. Sometimes a particular experiment may require expensive equipment that you don’t have, may take too long to set up, may yield data that is too imprecise to analyze properly, or an experiment may be too dangerous for a classroom setting. At the latest annual OAPT conference Andrew Moffat showed us several websites with video libraries filled with experiments that I wouldn’t be able to recreate myself (skip to the end of this article for those links). To give you a taste of what kinds of videos are available, and how you might build a lesson around one of them for your students, I’d like to analyze one of my favourite videos from the collections. Read More...

Bernoulli Lost His Marbles

Al Bartlett, University of Colorado

Fill a one-litre graduated cylinder with water; the cylinder should be about 5 to 8 cm in diameter and 30 to 40 cm tall. Take an ordinary glass marble and try to drop the marble into the water in such a way that the marble will fall all the way to the bottom without first hitting the side of the cylinder. The marble makes an audible click every time it hits the glass wall. Read More...

Keeping Alive the Sense of Wonder … Counter-Intuition

Doug Cunningham, Science Head, Bruce Peninsula District School

“…The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds…”

Anatole France 1921 Nobel Prize, Literature


I have always been interested in finding demonstrations that provoke and awaken the natural curiosity of students. Demonstrations that provide unexpected results, or appear on the surface to violate common sense, are particularly effective vehicles for motivation. These demonstrations or experiments are known as counter-intuitive.

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Bloody Ballistics

George Vanderkuur, Ontario Science Centre

The heart is a mechanical pump that is used to move an incompressible fluid (i.e., blood) through a very elastic closed network of tubes. With each cycle of the “pump,” the whole system expands and contracts. Read More...

The Bistable Diver

Jim Hunt, Guelph Physics Department

This marks the first appearance of this column, which has been prompted by the great popularity of the demonstration sessions at our annual conference. This first column is adapted from an article in the Guelph Daily Mercury, by Jim Hunt of the Guelph Physics Department.

A fun toy which teaches a lot about hydrostatics and Archimedes’ principle can be made from some very simple items. You will need 1) a large transparent dishwashing detergent plastic bottle (see A in Fig.) with a plastic valve cap, and most importantly, with an oval cross section; 2) a cap from a ball point pen; 3) a few small paper clips. Read More...
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