Sunday, June 4, 2023

Honda Cog Ad

I always loved this two-minute ad from Honda UK. It merited an exhaustive Wikipedia entry. I showed it during our Energy units, since there were so many energy transfers and and transformations. Creating a student assignment around it was challenging, though. And doing so sat on the back-burner for some time.

Eventually I settled on a "phenomena-match" where I created a list of physics phenomena and broke the video into 33 distinct events, with titles!

Students are asked to read the list of phenomena and then watch the video. Then they're asked to watch the video again and label each event with at least one phenomenon shown. (Some events show multiple phenomena, and students are encouraged to label as many as they see.) 

But there are some restrictions. All 33 events need to tagged with at least one phenomenon, and each phenomenon must be assigned to at least one event by the end of the video. And no single phenomenon can be assigned to more than five events.

Fun, engaging, and with just a pinch of tension (as you come up on your fifth citation of "collision").

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Spin the Cradle

The Newton's Cradle likely spends most of the school year collecting dust. Adding this will diminish the accumulation a little bit.

Center that cradle on a low-friction turntable, and you've got the makings of a nice demonstration for AP Physics 1. There's a classic uniform circular motion free-body diagram to be solved. And the solution speaks to the angle a ball will swing to when things are set into motion.

A curious counter-intuitive interpretation of the mathematics is explored. It's nerdy stuff, appropriate for the more deeply-set plow we use in the advanced level high school course.

And how cool is that cover photo, with the balls of the cradle seeming to repel one another?

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Secrets in Our DNA

When the direct-to-consumer DNA tests were splashing onto the scene a few years ago, I noticed that some of my colleagues at school were getting their 23AndMe or AncestryDNA tests done. None of them were science teachers.

My immediate take was that the more you knew about DNA, the less likely you were to buy into these tests.

I haven't purchased a test, myself. But I might get one someday. There seems to be some entertainment value and some medical value. But it's important not to set expectations very high.

That said, there is a story here. A story with several compelling threads. And this episode of NOVA gets at this story.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Your Brain: Perception Deception + Who's In Control?

It seems there was a moment a few years ago when our collective senses of reality were universally called into question. I am speaking, of course, about The Dress. Was it blue and black or white and gold? [Disclosure: I was on Team White and Gold in the moment.] And then ... was it Yanny or Laurel? [I only hear Yanny.] 

And one that I seem to have repressed: "Brainstorm" or "Green Needle"? That one added a new dimension of terror as your own brain could be flipped from Brainstorm to Green Needle by mere suggestion. The audio didn't change; your brain's interpretation changed. [Update: you can also roll with "Brain Needle" or "Green Storm" if you ... put your mind to it.]

Our faith in the fidelity of the realities our minds create around us turns out to be somewhat misplaced. This two-part series investigates that and more.

Nearly a hundred of the Exploratorium's Science Snacks involve perception. [Snacks can be sorted by subject; one of those subjects is "perception".]

Is what you see real? Join neuroscientist Heather Berlin on a quest to understand how your brain shapes your reality, and why you can’t always trust what you perceive. In the first hour of this two-part series, learn what the latest research shows about how your brain processes and shapes the world around you, and discover the surprising tricks and shortcuts your brain takes to help you survive.

Are you in control, or is your brain controlling you? Dive into the latest research on the subconscious with neuroscientist Heather Berlin. Sleepwalking, anesthesia, game theory, and more reveal surprising insights in this eye-opening journey to discover what’s really driving the decisions you make.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Conceptual Physics Alive! is now streaming freely

Great news, physics types! 

For your professional development, your classroom, or for your own delight, Paul Hewitt's classic CPAlive! lectures are gifted to you here for streaming or download. Enjoy! To learn more about Paul's latest (2023) "Conceptual Academy Physics" full high school program, visit Good Energy!

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Physics for the 21st Century

Physics for the 21st Century is an 11-part series produced by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and hosted at Annenberg Learner. A multimedia course for high school physics teachers, undergraduate students, and science enthusiasts; 11 half-hour programs, online text, facilitator’s guide, and website. Annenberg Learner Physics for the 21st Century site.

This might be something nice for after the AP exams in your AP Physics course. High school physics content was developed in the 17th-20th centuries. This series gets you past 1927.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Chasing Carbon Zero

NOVA ran two climate change episodes for Earth Month, 2023. Weathering the Future was discussed in a previous post. Changing Carbon Zero was the next episode in season 50 of the program.

Climate journalist, Miles O'Brien, takes us on a journey whose destination is "Net Zero" carbon. That's where we're supposed to be by 2050 to avoid a range of climate-related catastrophes. Those catastrophes are starting to show themselves here in 2023, so the need is clear.

As with Weathering the Future, this documentary doesn't waste time making the case that climate change is happening. That's settled science. It's documented elsewhere in the world of documentaries.

This program is devoted to the nuts and bolts of how we get from here to carbon zero. It's a difficult, but not impossible task. For some key carbon contributors, innovation is no longer needed. We have the tools we need. But we need to implement them.


Monday, April 24, 2023

Weathering the Future

We're turning a corner in climate change documentaries. There is a rich canon of warning-themed documentaries, which saw prominence with An Inconvenient Truth (2006) through Before the the Flood (2016).

Now we are documenting human responses to climate change. NOVA's Weathering the Future stands as a solid example. It doesn't spend time presenting the science establishing climate change. It understands that climate change is a reality that is having concrete consequences in communities right now. It spends its time detailing community responses to climate change impact.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Big Links Pages

Really just an excuse for me to post a favorite shot from Brooks Falls, Katmai, Alaska a few years ago. Arctic Lynx.

In any case, I always found some utility in big pages of links for video series. Links to videos (where possible) and question sets. So I made some for video series in various content areas. Here's what I've got.

A Personal Voyage [Carl Sagan 1980: 13 episodes]
A Spacetime Odyssey [Neil deGrasse Tyson 2014: 13 episodes]
Possible Worlds [Neil deGrasse Tyson 2020: 13 episodes]

Chemistry: A Volatile History [Jim Al-Khalili: 3 episodes]
Hunting the Elements ... Beyond the Elements [David Pogue]
Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions [13 episodes]
The World of Chemistry [Roald Hoffmann: 26 episodes]

How Earth Made Us | How the Earth Changed History [Iain Stewart: 5 episodes]
Earth Revealed: Introductory Geology [26 episodes]
The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science [13 episodes]

I'll keep these lynx links over in the bar on the right.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

New covers for YouTube Physics and Skepticism

When I began cobbling together curriculum resources for my nascent TPT Store, The Lessons of Phyz, I was in a bit of a hurry. I was keen to populate the store with more than just Mechanical Universe question sets. So I added the YouTube Physics and YouTube Skepticism lessons I had developed over the years.

My product covers early on were fairly simple. By design (!). I wasn't a fan of ... what seemed like the universal TPT product cover look, which struck me as having a very K-6 aesthetic. I learned that this had something to do with Canva, a design tool favored by many TPT author-creators.

The covers I designed were a bit quieter/more mature. Maybe even boring. So I went back to these products and redesigned the covers. Since they were video-based, dropping in a few freeze-frame screen-shots seemed like a way to provide some previews.

Play the movie to see the new covers. Go full screen to enjoy the full effect. They are much more fun than the old covers.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

The Big Page of Chemistry

When The Mechanical Universe series was posted to YouTube, I constructed an HTML page to index the episodes. Then I added the High School Adaptations and links to my TPT question sets. Now I've got a comprehensive The Mechanical Universe of Phyz web page that I found to be quite useful.

Now that I've created question sets for four series concerning Chemistry, I thought a Big Page of Chemistry might be in order.

Here's the link to the page: Chemistry

The series indexed (from fewest to most episodes) are

Chemistry: A Volatile History (with Jim Al-Khalili)
This BBC mini-series has been my best-selling chemistry series.

Hunting the Elements and Beyond the Elements (with David Pogue)
David Pogue is always kinetic and entertaining. Hunting is a two-hour special; Beyond was the decade-later mini-series sequel.

Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions (with a variety of host researchers)
Thirteen half-hour episodes cover many major topics in chemistry. And demonstrations are woven in nicely.

The World of Chemistry (with Roald Hoffmann)
Twenty-six half-hour episodes provide comprehensive coverage of chemistry topics. First aired in 1990, and the years have not been kind to it. The Mechanical Universe has aged much more gracefully. But the academic content is solid. Series demonstrator, Don Showalter, is always great fun.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The World of Chemistry

Produced after The Mechanical Universe and before Earth Revealed, The World of Chemistry with Roald Hoffmann debuted on PBS in 1990. Chemistry Nobel laureate, Roald Hoffmann hosts and Don Showalter is the series demonstrator in this series consisting of 26 half-hour episodes.

I've bundled the question sets into four series. A megabundle combines all the series is available, as are each of the individual episodes.

This series is not as polished or timeless as The Mechanical Universe, nor has it aged as well. But you might find some gems here that fit nicely into a well-balanced Chemistry, AP Chemistry, or Chemistry of the Earth Systems curriculum. And at 26 episodes, it's fairly comprehensive.

And for something with more contemporary sensibilities, check out Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Earth Science: The Bundles (with Environmental Science)

[Updated April 2023]

Once upon a time, I arranged six Earth science-based bundles filled with question sets for documentaries from NOVA, National Geographic, BBC, PBS, and The Universe. Since then, I've added many, many new titles. So I've updated those bundles with the new titles.

For maximum flexibility, get them all: A Megabundle of Science: EARTH · ENVIRONMENTAL · ASTRONOMY at TPT. It's updated so frequently, you'll need to click the link to see how many resources currently in the bundle. It's more than 55!

When teaching the topics listed below, take a look at these bundles. You might find something you'll like.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Habitable Planet

Environmental Science, here we go! I found this series on the Annenberg Learner site and thought I'd give its videos a Lessons of Phyz treatment. The Habitable Planet appears to be a pretty robust program, and the video episodes are just one part of that. Most of them are two case studies relating to the episode's topic.

It was produced by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in association with the Harvard University Center for the Environment in 2007. It's described as a course intended for instructors. The vocabulary level is fairly high, but I think it could be used with students in AP Environment Science courses. 

The question sets for the half-hour episodes run from 24 to 26 questions each. Episode 1: Many Planets, One Earth pairs nicely with Cosmos: Possible Worlds Episode 2: The Fleeting Grace of the Habitable Zone.

Friday, February 24, 2023

New Eye on the Universe

It seems JWST is going to be an astronomy research bonanza. And a reliable topic for PBS NOVA. In September, 2022, NOVA's first JWST episode debuted. Ultimate Space Telescope came just a few months after James Webb Space Telescope's first light.

Now in February, 2023, New Eye on the Universe has aired. It follows the series of researchers putting JWST to work. The search for carbon dioxide in the clouds of a distant Jupiter-like exoplanet reveals a surprising molecule. The search for an atmosphere on a less distant rocky exoplanet pushed JWST to the limits of its capabilities. 

Meanwhile, the water plumes of Enceladus and the surface of Europa yield some surprises. JWST provides stunning new images of Jupiter and Neptune. And the race to find the oldest galaxies in the universe cast current astronomical theories into doubt. There's even a nice vignette on how these infrared light images are colorized.

I didn't waste much time developing a Lessons of Phyz question set for this episode.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Star Chasers of Senegal

It's the NOVA astronomy episode you might not have been expecting. A team of Senegalese astronomers is called upon by NASA to record the star occupation made by a Trojan asteroid sharing Jupiter's orbit. "If you don't get the data at the exact moment, you don't get the data ever," according to a NASA scientist. 

In Senegal, we see imams reacting to the application of modern astronomy techniques to the practices of Islam, Muslims using astronomy to determine true solar time, and evidence of astronomy used in ancient stone circles.

If you're looking for a nice addition to your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resources, take a look at PBS NOVA's Star Chasers of Senegal.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Zero to Infinity

I cannot be the only one who noticed this. The title graphic for this episode of NOVA reminded me of the title cards used throughout 2001: A Space Odyssey. Specifically the one used to announce the final act: "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" (Buzz Lightyear's catch phrase is based on this act's name.) All caps Futura in white against a dark background, and an invocation of the infinite. Subtle? Yes. A coincidence? I'm saying no.

In any case, Talithia Williams' tale of numerical extremes is told through dancing animated aliens, masterful tabla playing, pizza slicing, and a visit to a hypothetical hotel. Zero was missed by the Sumerians, Mesopotamians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Infinity unlocks the vast potential of calculus.

Asides: It was Williams' mellifluous voice that guided us through the Universe Revealed NOVA miniseries. And I did have to add a new custom category on this here blog and to my Lessons of Phyz store on TPT: Math. So if you know of any other compelling math documentaries that could benefit from a question set, let me know.

As your science sommelier, I was struck when Williams synopsized the episode as being about "nothing and everything". It rang a bell! So I would say this episode pairs nicely (perhaps whimsically) with Jim Al-Khalili's Everything and Nothing. Williams is telling a math story; Al-Khalili is telling a physical science story. 

Arctic Sinkholes

It's worse than the models predicted. 

If you've been feeling that climate \change has been running ahead to schedule, there may be a reason for that. This episode of NOVA lays it out. Spoiler alert, it's permafrost thaw and perhaps fossil methane chimneys. 

"Thawing permafrost, right now on NOVA" apparently doesn't attract Viewers Like You, so producers looked for a sexier hook. What they found was arctic sinkholes, first seen in Russia's Yamal peninsula. At first glance, maybe large-scale, remote versions of sinkholes like those that have been swallowing cars around the world. Nope. These are explosion craters surrounded by debris fields. The calls are coming from inside the house. "Arctic sinkholes, right now on NOVA." Now we've got an episode.

The focus of the program is nevertheless permafrost thaw and the investigation of an ongoing release of ancient methane previously deemed safely sequestered. Nontrivial new greenhouse gas emissions that were not accounted for in the 2015 Paris Accords. So yeah, it's worse than we thought.

And as your science sommelier, I will add that this selection pairs nicely with Before the Flood

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Earth Revealed

It seems there was a wee Golden Age of college telecourses that preceded the explosive dawn of the World Wide Web. In physics, we had The Mechanical Universe. In chemistry, there was The World of Chemistry, and in geology, there was Earth Revealed. They had been preceded by more multidisciplinary documentary series such as Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man, James Burke's Connections, and Carl Sagan's Cosmos.

These telecourses ran 26 half-hour episodes, and were intended to be fairly comprehensive. The Mechanical Universe actually got a second season, for a total of 52 episodes. If there are programs with matching ambition produced in The Age of Search (21st century), I am unaware of them. Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions (2014) does a great job, but tells its story in a mere 13 episodes.

The Buggles proclaimed that Video Killed the Radio Star in the first song played by the VJs of MTV. Did the web kill broadcast college telecourses? My guess is that the web allowed colleges to conduct their own telecourses, albeit less slickly produced, so that demand for these more broadly-targeted telecourses went extinct.

Earth Revealed shows the physical processes and human activities that shape

Monday, January 2, 2023

Leave a review, get a TPT credit

I only became aware of this recently; it seems like a pretty good deal. A post that details the craft that goes into the creating of the Lessons of Phyz video question sets is directly below this post, if you're looking for inspiration for leaving positive reviews. And you can still write a better review than Open AI's ChatGPT can.

TPT credits are points that can be applied to future TPT purchases. The amount you can apply is displayed in U.S. Dollars (USD) on your account balance page. 

The primary way you can earn TPT Credits is by leaving ratings and reviews on your purchased resources. You may also receive TPT Credits on your account because they're added by Team TPT, for example as reimbursement — those will be listed "Credits added to your account by TPT Staff."

When you leave a review, you'll earn 1 credit for every $1 you spent on TPT for that resource. Each credit has a value of 5 cents, so every 20 credits earned equals $1 you can apply to future TPT purchases. We'll round up from 50¢ for you! If you provide a review on a resource priced at $4.75, you'll earn 5 credits.

TPT credits are only earned for reviews left on active, paid resources. Credits are not earned on gift card purchases, inactive resources, or free downloads.

After using a resource, you can leave a rating and review by following these steps:

  1. Go to your "My Purchases" page.
  2. Click the "Leave a review" button (Note: you won't be able to leave a review until you've used the resource)
  3. Answer each question and leave a review sharing more about your experience with the resource. Then, click "Done."

To redeem your credits, look for "Use Account Balance" located under the "Checkout" button in your cart. Enter the amount you'd like to apply toward your order, and click "Apply."

If you've purchased any resources at The Lessons of Phyz, go get some credits!