Category Archives: Products

Upcoming Sale at Teacher Pay Teachers!

Hello!

I’ve not updated my site in quite awhile, but it has been a very eventful school year thus far. Recently, I upgraded each of my products at Teachers Pay Teachers with better previews, so I encourage you to take a look at my refurbished store,  The Physics Lab, in a new light. Thank you.

 

Teachers Pay Teachers will be having a site wide sale for two days only, February 14th and 15th, and I will be participating. Currently, I have over 30 products for sale, and I plan to add more soon.

In other news, I recently began a position as a private tutor at APEX Tutoring Service, which primarily serves the Chicagoland area but will now expand into Southern California with me being brought on board. We offer tutoring through email and via Skype besides traditional, in person appointments.

I hope that the school year is going well for you. Take care.

Teachers Pay Teachers Back To School Sale!

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Get ready for the Teachers Pay Teachers Back To School Sale! Beginning at 12:01 am, EDT, on Tuesday, August 1st and continuing until 11:59 pm, EDT, on Wednesday, August 2nd, I’ll be offering a 20% discount on all of my products as part of the site wide sale. Teachers Pay Teachers will also be offering an additional 5% discount that will be applied before my discount. This means that my products will be 25% off during the sale!

Make sure that you use the promo code BTS2017!

The Great American Solar Eclipse

The Great American Solar Eclipse of Monday, August 21, 2017 is now 29 days away. The eclipse is total, and the path of totality sweeps across the entire country from Oregon to South Carolina. If you’ve not seen a total solar eclipse, and you’re considering getting into the path of totality, do so. I cannot stress enough how incredible the experience is. A total solar eclipse is, perhaps, the most fantastic sight in nature. I’ve seen two totalities (1979 and 1991), and I’ve literally been waiting for this event for decades. I’m positioning myself near Madras, Oregon, where I will get about 100 seconds of totality.

For most of the lower 48 states, the eclipse will be partial, and will still be an enjoyable experience. Some school districts will already be in session on August 21, including my own (yes, I’ll be taking two days off from work). Here are a few tips on how to safely view the eclipse, and to get your students excited about the event.

In southern California where my school is located, the moon will cover about 62% of the Sun at maximum eclipse, which occurs at about 10:20 am PDT. The Sun will be too bright to directly look at, even at maximum eclipse, so safety is paramount. First of all, I highly recommend purchasing a pair of so called “eclipse glasses”. Go to My Science Shop (a subsidiary of Astronomy Magazine) to find these excellent wraparound glasses.

These wraparound glasses (I’ve bought six pairs for family and friends for our trip to Oregon) safely allow you to look directly at the Sun. They’re $20 apiece, and well worth it (you can also use these glasses to look at the Sun at any time, for that matter). You can also buy a 5-pack of these cheaper versions for $10. I prefer the wraparounds, though, for the extra safety and durability.

You can also observe the eclipse with some simple pinhole projections. Prepare your students ahead of time. Take some cardboard and punch some holes in it with a hole punch. Tape tinfoil over those holes and poke a hole in the tinfoil with a pin. Hold the cardboard perpendicular to the Sun’s direction. Cast the Sun’s image onto a piece of white foam board held behind the cardboard. I’ve attached a few photos from the partial eclipse of May 20, 2012, as an example. That eclipse, by the way, was an annular eclipse and, from my location, I observed about an 80% partial.

   

Another means of projecting is to tape cardboard (with the tinfoil pinhole) over the objective lens of binoculars, but with a wider pinhole. Cast the magnified image onto foam board. If you have a tripod, mount the binoculars to steady the image.

Tree leaves can act as a natural source of pinhole images. Especially at maximum eclipse, look for pinhole images of the near crescent Sun on the ground from sunlight filtering through the leaves. An example of when I observed such images projected onto a white wall is attached.

I’ll prepare my students and my substitute for the event the week prior. I’ll be doing these simple things in Oregon, as well as observing the eclipse, both partial and total, through a Dobsonian telescope with a solar filter.

Lastly, if you’re thinking about getting into the path of totality, take a look at this interactive Google map as an aid.

I wish you all the best in your endeavor to observe the eclipse, with or without students! As part of your preparation, a lesson plan and activity about lunar phases is helpful. You can find a version of my own lesson here.

 

Featured Product: Mini Lab Dropper Poppers

Dropper Poppers are educational toys sold by Arbor Scientific (and a few other vendors). A few years ago, I had a few dollars left in my annual budget, and I bought a few. Initially, I used the Dropper Poppers as a means of demonstrating multiple forms of potential energy, but I soon realized the potential for a short and simple laboratory exercise.

The result is my free product at Teachers Pay Teachers called Mini Lab: Dropper Poppers. In the exercise, students fold the Dropper Popper, thereby giving it some elastic, or spring, potential energy. The Dropper Popper is held at a height above the floor and dropped, thereby enabling it to “pop” when it hits the floor. Subsequently, the Dropper Popper rises to a greater height.

I turned this simple demonstration into a short laboratory exercise that allows students to measure the Dropper Popper’s spring constant. I’ve incorporated this exercise into my algebra based Physics AB curriculum. The exercise fills a space in my Physics AB curriculum while my Calculus based Honors Physics AB classes are exploring the more advanced concept of gravitational potential energy in its Newtonian form. In short, this exercise is an excellent means of differentiating instruction between the two classes.

Also, I have a new email newsletter in the works! By signing up, you’ll receive a free copy of Mini Lab: Dropper Poppers!