Day 170: Final Day of AP Physics 2

Today was the “final exam” period for both my AP Physics 2 classes. Since we already completed our final exam, we watched a couple episodes of Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos. The “Quantum Leap” episode covered a couple of new topics that were interesting and the “Universe of Multiverse?” episode is a nice “way out there” note on which to end the year.

I’m glad I managed to finish the 180 (well, 170) blog for AP Physics 2. I hope other have found this useful and I’m sure I’ll refer back to it next year. I’m not sure if I’ll do a 180 blog next year or not. If I do, I’m not sure what focus or theme is will have…. Something to reflect on over the summer.

Day 169: Lawrence Krauss Cosmology Talk at 2009 Origins Symposium

I’ve watched a lot of videos about cosmology. The best that I’ve found to wrap up our cosmology unit is a 2009 talk by Lawrence Krauss at his Origins Symposium. (It appears the video is currently unavailable on this web site.) He does a great job covering the progress of cosmology from Hubble through dark energy in an accessible manner.


Day 168: Cosmic Microwave Background and Inflation

Today we discussed the history of our discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation and how precisely we can now measure it with the Planck satellite. From this, we discussed how the theory of inflation may answer questions that the Big Bang theory doesn’t address. Last year, we focused a lot on the BICEP2 experiment and gravitational waves. Not so much this year….



Day 167: Dark Matter

Today, we discussed the results from the Hubble’s Law lab and continued with our discussion of cosmology. We focused on Dark Matter and the work of Vera Rubin, Frank Zwicky, and Peebles and Ostriker. Here a student tries an analogy for gravitational lensing by looking at a projected grid and a dot though a wine glass. As you move the wine glass, the grid is distorted. Held in the center, the dot becomes a ring, much like gravitational lensing of galaxies.



Day 163: The Holometer and Holographic Principle

Today was the last day with all of the seniors in my AP Physics 2 class. Near the end of each school year, I take a day and share with them my experience working at Fermilab in the summer of 2011 on the Holometer experiment – my adventure exploring the smallest intervals of space and time and preparing to explain it to high school students. Most students find the idea of the holographic principle fascinating and the Holometer experiment very interesting. I share photos, stories, and diagrams. I share with them my passion for this experiment and how it is an amazing combination of theoretical physics, experimental physics, engineering, and software. Afterward, I share with them a series of posts I wrote about the Holometer and Holographic Principle as part of my summer work. I also have created an Evernote notebook of articles and videos.



Day 162: Quantum Mechanics Guest Lecturer

Today, one of my former students, who is a physics major at Cornell University, returned to my classroom to be a guest lecturer on quantum mechanics. Her talk was fantastic for several reasons. The level of the lecture was appropriate because, as an alumni, she knew what my students have already learned. She explained concepts really clearly without relying on mathematics well beyond my students, yet still alluded to the mathematical models so students appreciate them. As a physics major crushing her classes and doing really interesting research, she is an inspiration role model for my students. Thanks Cari!



Day 156-161: Physics for the 21st Century

I had an extended absence from school. As a result, I’m grouping the days I was gone into chunks to at least capture the time period. These shouldn’t be considered model lessons, but they worked out okay.

After the AP exam, we do a particle physics and cosmology unit. We already started the particle physics unit in preparation for the Particle Physics Masterclass at Fermilab.

The day after the AP exam, students watched the Nova’s The Big Bang Machine. It is a great overview of particle physics and sets the stage for future activities and topics we will study.

Now done with the AP exam, students started a self-paced exploration of modern physics: Physics for the 21st Century. The online resources are excellent and seem to align well with the readiness of the students. They will start with unit 1 and continue through the units at their own pace for the week.

  ##modern ##cosmology ##particlephysics