Education

Category archives for Education

How Does Angular Momentum Emerge?

Yesterday’s post about VPython simulation of the famous bicycle wheel demo showed that you can get the precession and nutation from a simulation that only includes forces. But this is still kind of mysterious, from the standpoint of basic physics intuition. Specifically, it’s sort of hard to see how any of this produces a force…

The Emergence of Angular Momentum

The third of the great physics principles introduced in our introductory mechanics courses is the conservation of angular momentum, or the Angular Momentum Principle in the language of the Matter and Interactions curriculum we use. This tends to be one of the hardest topics to introduce, in no small part because it’s the last thing…

Just How Idiotic Are GPAs?

Yesterday’s quick rant had the slightly clickbait-y title “GPAs are Idiotic,” because, well, I’m trying to get people to read the blog, y’know. It’s a little hyperbolic, though, and wasn’t founded in anything but a vague intuition that the crude digitization step involved in going from numerical course averages to letter grades then back to…

GPA’s Are Idiotic

I was thinking about something only tangentially related to grading, when it struck me that the way we go about generating student grade point averages is the kind of mind-bogglingly stupid system that requires lots of smart people working together to produce. Two very different groups of smart people, with very different ways of looking…

I keep forgetting to mention these, but I have two talks coming up: 1) Tonight, March 17, I’m talking about Eureka to the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association on the campus of SUNY New Paltz. This is a version of the talk I gave in Bristol, UK over the summer, but with the soccer content replaced with…

STEM Gender Gaps and Draft Dodging

It’s always a pleasure to see former students doing well, and to that end, we invited one of my former thesis students, Mike Mastroianni, class of 2007, to give a colloquium talk last week in the department. Mike went to physics grad school for a couple of years after graduation, but decided he was more…

The Two-Box Addition Game

SteelyKid’s school does a “March Math Madness” thing, and this year all the kids in her class are being asked to practice “Math Facts” for ten minutes a night. This appears to be motivated by some requirement that students be able to rattle off basic addition problems at high speed. So there are flash cards…

UPDATE: The application form is now live. A few years back, I became aware of Mike Brotherton’s Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, and said “somebody should do this for quantum physics.” At the time, I wasn’t in a position to do that, but in the interim, the APS Outreach program launched the Public Outreach and Informing…

Back on Thursday when I was waiting to be annoyed by a speech, one of the ways I passed time was reading stuff on my phone, which included This Grantland piece about Charles Barkley and “advanced stats”. In it, Bryan Curtis makes the argument that while Barkley’s recent comments disparaging statistical tools seem at first…

Yesterday was Founders Day at Union, celebrating the 220th anniversary of the granting of a charter for the college. The name of the event always carries a sort of British-boarding-school air for me, and never fails to earworm me with a very particular rugby song, but really it’s just one of those formal-procession-and-big-speaker events that…