Monday, May 27, 2013

End of School Year Reflections

Well, school is over and following are a few reflections.

1) Results of pre/post diagnostic tests were not earth chattering but they were very encouraging and satisfying in that they confirmed that my students on average have grasped core concepts of Kinematics and Dynamics. What remains to see is how the two genders faired and how the various majors faired as well for I like to keep track of both of these statistical results to fine tune the pedagogy. 

2) Informal surveys of students seem to show they were satisfied with their year of Physics overall but they seem to all find the Clickerisms (multiple choice conceptual questions that are answered using clickers and employing think-pair-share or peer instruction as advanced by Eric Mazur and other PER instructors) useful from an educational point of view. This is very encouraging for it implies that the majority of the students are sharing one of my views regarding the efficacy of the approaches advanced by the PER community. 

3) Two unexpected heartwarming occurrences in the last days of the year confirmed that I must have had a positive impact on at least two students. Interestingly, both students dropped Physics at the conclusion of first semester yet were kind enough to show their appreciation at the end of the school year. One of them brought me a bag of cookies with a thank you note and the other sent me an email with kind words of praise and topped it off by stating "That was the uncoolest thing I have ever done." in reference to the dropping of my Physix class. Thank you to both for their kindness, their classy acts, and the time they took to make not just my day but my whole year.   

4) This year's batch of Physix projects were of high quality and hopefully I will feature some of them in future posts (ISA!)

After reading the above, please share on the comments heartwarming things you experienced in your last days of classes and what reflections you may have drawn from your eventful year of Physix. Thank you

Sunday, May 26, 2013

iDevice Physix App of the Month

In my article "iPad & weightlessness" in Volume 50, Issue 5, May 2012 I mentioned that I used the free app AccelGraph to take the acceleration measurements. Unfortunately, that cool app (which I still have and enjoy) has since been removed from the App Store for unstated reasons.

So, here is an alternate app that should do the job equally well and it is my choice for the Physix App of the Month.


My students and I used this app on numerous occasions with iPhones and iPad and it operated quite well each time. One of its strongest features is the ability to set it to do delayed recordings that start any time in the future. In an upcoming blog (ISA) I will share examples of how my students and I used the app to extend and deepen our understanding of motion and its properties.

If you have used another app that accomplishes the same tasks, share its name and how you and your students used it to further your investigation of the Physix of motion. Thank you

Sunday, May 19, 2013


In a talk that Punya Mishra gave at Interlochen Arts Academy back in April of this year, he stated "Only repurposing makes technology educational." I fell in love with the word repurposing for I think it allows the use of technology to be malleable enough to fit each educator's pedagogical immediate objectives and long term goals.

Here is an example of repurposing in action [Note: I used this repurposing scheme long before Dr. Mishra's presentation and this is why the terminology resonated with me.]

Eye Chart Pro for iPad on the iTunes App Store is a cool app that eye doctors may use and so would laymen as a an eye chart for what it was set for. But, here is how I used it in my Physix classes. 

Students doubt that the image of an object is behind a plan mirror at a distance equal to the distance of the object from the mirror. So, I fire the app, ask volunteers to read the chart that is set at the same level as the mirror and keep moving away until a certain line of letters is barely discernible to the volunteer. I then set the iPad next to the volunteer's face and turn the iPad to face the mirror, randomize the letters (a nifty function of the said app), engage the mirror mode of the app (cool feature also), and then ask the volunteer who is still standing at the same distance away from the mirror to read the most recent and barely discernible row of letters displayed by the app. The reaction has always been cool to say the least. Repurposing in this case made a medical app a Physix app! How cool is that?

Share your repurposing Coolisms in the comments. Thank you

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My students have been working on a series of four experiments that are part of a major lab "Wave-O-Rama" that is trying to weave a common thread amongst all of them; what happens to waves when they interfere or diffract?

One of the experiments, Nothing Beats Fourier, introduces students to the concept of synthesis of waveforms from basic sine functions through the use of WolftamAlpha and the iDevice apps that are listed below according to the level of Coolism.

Coolism: Fourier Synthesizer
Cool: Sound Uncovered
Semi Cool: Fourier Touch

Give these apps a try in your classroom and share how your experience went. In addition, if you wish to have a copy of my lab sheet, please fire me an email.    

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Visit the following YouTube clip, read my post comments therein and then come back here to share your thoughts. How would we use this to enrich our Physix students' learning experience?

Baltimore Orioles Physix

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Nothing Beats Expert Presentations

Whenever possible, invite experts in their respective fields to present about the latest in their Physix research for that always leaves indelible marks on the students.

My students and I were fortunate to enjoy a presentation by Dr. Brian McNamara about supermassive black holes and the origin of galaxies. The timing was perfect for it came at the heels of covering Universal Law of Gravity of Sir Isaac Newton. Thank you, Dr. McNamara!