Sunday, July 26, 2020

Conceptual Physics Alive!

Arbor Scientific · 1991 · Presenter: Paul Hewitt

Master teacher Paul Hewitt teaches noncomputational Conceptual Physics. Observe Hewitt teach in a classroom with real students, using engaging demonstrations and artwork.

Years ago, I found myself serving jury duty during my unit on waves. I had the substitute show the Mechanical Universe episode on waves, and a Conceptual Physics Alive episode on waves. When I returned, I asked my students which video they preferred. To my surprise, they preferred Hewitt's videotaped classroom lecture over the slickly produced television program. That's not to take anything away from the massive accomplishment that is The Mechanical Universe. Rather, it speaks highly of Hewitt's extraordinary ability to connect to students.


Set 1: Motion
Author Paul Hewitt describes the perspective taken in the Conceptual Physics program and offers a preview of things to come. The program begins with a description of how the video series came to be. Enjoy the clips from the “old days” going all the way back to 1974!

In this lecture, Paul Hewitt describes the relationship between distance, speed, and time for objects moving at constant speed. He then discusses how accelerated motion is different. Lastly, he shows how to determine “how fast” and “how far” for objects in free fall.

In this lecture, Paul Hewitt reviews uniform motion and accelerated motion. He then combines those ideas to explain the nature of projectile motion. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Breakthrough: The Ideas That Changed the World

PBS BBC · 2018 · Narrator: Patrick Stewart

Take a mind-blowing journey through human history, told through six iconic inventions that modern people take for granted, and see how science, invention, and technology built on one another to change everything.

This series spotlights the history of engineering, which aligns nicely with the NGSS emphasis on engineering. While Patrick Stewart narrates, there is refreshing representation among the various presenters who appear throughout the series.

Breakthrough: The Ideas That Changed the Word on Teachers Pay Teachers


Episode 1 tells the story of the development of the telescope, from a stone-age observatory to the space-based telescopes of the future.

Scholars Derrick Pitts (The Franklin Institute), Brett Salmon & Dan Coe (Space Telescope Science Institute), Fabio Silva (Bournemouth University), Shelley James (Glass Artist), Jim Al-Khalili (University of Surrey), Binh Danh (San Jose State University), and Lindsay Smith Zrull (Harvard Observatory) tell us the story of the telescope.

It entails long-abandoned Stone Age dolmens once used as celestial calendars, how Venetians made glass transparent, the optics of a medieval Persian camera obscura, a Dutch lens maker’s wartime breakthrough and a Venetian math teacher’s advancement of it, a Parisian invention improved by a spilled bottle of mercury, a team of women known as human computers who were armed with fly spankers, an athlete-turned-astronomer working high above Los Angeles, and telescope in space that will allow us to see as far as physics will allow.

Episode 1 "breakthrough celebrities" include Galileo Galilei, Edwin Hubble, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Louis Daguerre, Hans Lippershey, and Ibn al-Haytham.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Mechanical Universe: College

Annenberg CPB · 1987 · Presenter: David Goodstein

The Mechanical Universe...and Beyond is a critically-acclaimed series of 52 thirty-minute videotape programs covering the basic topics of an introductory university physics course. The series was originally produced as a broadcast telecourse by the California Institute of Technology and Intelecom, Inc. with program funding from the Annenberg/CPB Project.

Each program in the series opens and closes with Caltech Professor David Goodstein providing philosophical, historical and often humorous insight into the subject at hand while lecturing to his freshman physics class. The Mechanical Universe contains hundreds of computer animation segments, created by Dr. James F. Blinn, as the primary tool of instruction. Dynamic location footage and historical re-creations are also used to stress the fact that science is a human endeavor. 

The series has been broadcast as a telecourse over the PBS television network and can still be seen on many PBS stations. The Mechanical Universe is arguably the most successful attempt to date to use video technology in the presentation of rigorous physics instruction.

This preview introduces revolutionary ideas and individuals from Copernicus to Newton, and links the physics of the heavens and the earth.

Galileo's imaginative experiments proved that all bodies fall with the same constant acceleration.

The function of mathematics in physical science and the derivative as a practical tool.

Galileo risked his favored status to answer the questions of the universe with his law of inertia.