Dot Physics

Archives for September, 2009

What makes a good physics program

This weekend I am off to a SPIN-UP (Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics) meeting. The basic idea is for physics departments to meet and discuss how they can be better. Note: if you don’t have a good acronym, you don’t get any funding. In preparation for this meeting, I was thinking – what…

Seasons, short and simple

I love this question: Why is it warmer in the summer than in the winter (for the Northern hemisphere)? Go ahead and ask your friends. I suppose they will give one of the following likely answers: The tilt of the Earth The tilt of the Earth makes us closer to the Sun We are closer…

Learning Physics is like a puzzle

Here is a quick story. A faculty member came to me last week disappointed about the introductory physics students’ lack of understanding with regard to electric potential. Let me call the faculty Beta, because I think that would be a cool name. Beta was disturbed that the students didn’t get potential and it was covered…

The development of the atomic model

I love this story. It is a story of how ideas changed about the nature of the atom. These are the notes (and diagrams) I use when I teach the atomic nature of matter to non-science majors. The best thing about this story is that it is a great example of science. Science (or scientists)…

Students are starting to get the flu around here – and that means that it is time to debate. Clearly there are going to be some absences in the coming month. The question is: what to do about it? There are two camps of thought here: Camp 1: Excuses are bad This camp of faculty…