How to Teach Physics With How to Teach Physics to Your Dog

Emmy and I are in Buffalo today, after a long drive last night, made longer by the NY Thruway authorities decidin to randomly sprinkle lane closures along the westbound portion of I-90. They also made the sadistic move of putting on the "tune to this radio station for information" flashers before the big back-up, and then playing only a recording saying that they were updating the messages on the information network. For at least an hour. Nice work, Thruway idiots. That was positively Pennsylvanian.

Anyway, we're here in scenic Buffalo, where it isn't snowing yet, so don't ask. Which means I won't be around to do lots of social-media stuff today, but I do have a question I've been meaning to crowd-source, as the cool kids are saying:

What should go in a Teacher's Guide for How to Teach Physics to Your Dog?

You see, the paperback edition is due out in December, and that's at a price point where you might conceivably use it as a supplemental text for a non-majors course in college, or an advanced science class at a lower level. This would, of course, be Very Cool, and to help anybody who would like to do such a thing, I'd like to put together a Teacher's Guide for the book, with pointers to additional resources and suggested topics for discussion, and that sort of thing. For example, the chapter on the Uncertainty Principle obviously connects to things like Michael Frayn's "Copenhagen," and could also include something like "Google up an example of somebody using the Uncertainty Principle as a metaphor and getting it wrong."

I've got some ideas along these lines, but I'm sure I'm missing good stuff. So, if anybody out there has suggestions for things that ought to go in this sort of Teacher's Guide, leave them in the comments.

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In the past I have done a classroom activity based on Bell's theorem where you put students in groups and ask them to try and generate data that violates a Bell inequality. It works best of you phrase it as a game. First of all you give them a few criteria to meet that can be achieved locally so that they get the idea of how to play this sort of game and then you hit them with the CHSH criteria. Most of the time they figure out that it is impossible and the smart ones are often able to give a reasonably good explanation of why. Rob Spekkens does a much shorter version of this in his lecture for high school students, see towards the end of http://pirsa.org/08080019/ for example. That should give a reasonable idea of how to construct the longer version.

Perimeter Institute runs an International Summer School for Young Physicists every year that is aimed at high school students. It might be worth pointing out that students who are interested in this stuff can apply. There are always lectures and activities on quantum information and quantum foundations. Also, previous years' lectures are available on the web at:

http://pirsa.org/C09018
http://pirsa.org/C08016
http://pirsa.org/C07016
http://pirsa.org/C06010
http://pirsa.org/C05011
http://pirsa.org/C04003

It might be worth picking out some of the most relevant ones to recommend for further watching. You can also find public lectures and lectures for high school teachers from the Einstein+ program on the same site.

Feeding instructions for Emmy.

(btw, I ***loved*** the book)

Aloha

is itt possible to teach dogs physics

By Jacob Gignac (not verified) on 14 Oct 2010 #permalink

is it possible to teach dogs physics

By Jacob Gignac (not verified) on 14 Oct 2010 #permalink

They also made the sadistic move of putting on the "tune to this radio station for information" flashers before the big back-up, and then playing only a recording saying that they were updating the messages on the information network. For at least an hour.

I've also encountered the highway information radio network follies, mainly in Washington state where my mother lives. At least the Thruway message was comprehensible; about half of the time WSDOT's messages are incomprehensible, and about half of the comprehensible messages are irrelevant (discussing something planned or occurring on some other road that you have already decided not to take). Things can get really interesting (in the Chinese curse sense) when you try to drive across mountain passes in winter (many of WSDOT's radio bulletins are for pass conditions) as weather conditions in the mountains can change on much faster time scales than WSDOT updates the messages.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 14 Oct 2010 #permalink