Franklin’s Bells

Use static electricity to get a couple of aluminum pop cans ringing.   It gets its high-voltage from a sheet of aluminum foil taped in front of a TV set.

OK folks, this one is scary, but that’s part of the thrill.  The voltage is high but the current is so low it probably won’t hurt you, much like a really good spark from walking on a carpet.    It might also ruin the TV.  I know, I’ve done that before.   But hey, what else can you do with an old CRT television?  It won’t bring $5 at the garage sale.

You will need to set up two cans, one wired to ground and one wired to a sheet of aluminum foil which is taped over the TV screen.  An LCD TV will not work; it does not produce the high voltage needed.

Like most of these, getting it adjusted so it works right is the tricky part.  Once it works the pendulum will oscillate back and forth REALLY FAST and ring the bells.   The process of getting it adjusted will quite possibly cause a few harmless sparks to your own self, much to the great glee of the children nearby.   A little showmanship here can’t hurt.

Benjamin Franklin actually made a similar device that he used to let him know that there was enough lightning outside to begin his experiments.  He got very lucky though with his experiments.   When other scientists tried to duplicate his work a number of them got electrocuted by the lightning.   Your version will be much safer.

Look at the pictures.  Search the internet for images, videos and instructions for “Franklin’s Bell”  or “Franklin Bells”.   Look at this example of instructions, then build your own.   http://sci-toys.com/scitoys/scitoys/electro/electro4.html    And yes, there even is a version using electric flyswatters for the voltage source.

My favorite image of this is at http://vimeo.com/51183310

Fun with electric motors – 2

Here is an even easier, quicker motor to build.  It is more for older kids though, and safety goggles are absolutely necessary!   This little sucker takes less than a minute to assemble and gets up to thousands of RPM’s in a hurry.  If it comes apart (and it easily can) at that speed it might send that woodscrew flying, hence the goggles.

The critical part is the little neodymium magnet.

You usually have to give it a spin to get it started.

Look at this link for instructions, then search the internet for some more pictures, videos, or  instructions.   http://www.evilmadscientist.com/2006/how-to-make-the-simplest-electric-motor/    Search for “world’s simplest electric motor”

 

They are so easy to build, you can almost do it from the picture alone.

 

Fun with electric motors – 1

There are lots of ways you can make a simple electric motor.   Lots of them do not work.   The best one I have found is called “Beakman Motor”, name after the character on Bill Nye.   One good example of how to build it is at http://sci-toys.com/scitoys/scitoys/electro/electro.html#motor

Search the internet for images and plans for the Beakman Motor and that will help you design your own.  Keep a couple of tricks in mind:

a) Use a regular battery holder, like you can buy at Radio Shack.  Using a board with nails (see the picture) often leads to failure and nothing dampens a science activity with kids like one that does not work.

b) Pay real attention to stripping the wire.  Wire is coated with either enamel or plastic, and it won’t conduct electricity until the coating is removed.  In many of these Beakmans, the end of the coil (called the “armature) have the coating removed on one side but not the other.  That is critical to making it work.

c) Use a larger battery.  Whether you pick a D, C, or even AAA they all have the same voltage; about 1.5 volts.   What you need is more current, which is not the same.   The D and C cells provide more current.  Be aware, these little motors do eat through batteries in a hurry.   Have fun!

Texas Science Educators conferences coming up!

Link

The 2012 CAST (Texas Science Teachers Association) meeting is now in the history books.  I know one booth gave out 6,000 catalogs so there were at least that many teachers present.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – this kind of event will be a life-changer for you.  Whatever level you teach or hope to teach there is something about being a part of a HUGE group of the best of the best to get a person excited and energized and full of new ideas!

The best part for us Northerners (Oklahomans, as seen by Texas) is that there are several such events coming up near us.  The future CAST meetings are:

Nov. 7-9, Houston (OK, so Houston is not so close – but think what kinds of field trips there will be with Galveston and NASA so close)

Nov 20-22, 2014, Dallas

Nov 12-14, Fort Worth

And… drumroll…. the BEST of the best of the best – the NSTA National Science Teachers national conference this spring in Dallas, April 11-14 .  If you can only make one day, do it!  It will be unimaginably big.  http://www.nsta.org/conferences/2013san/

Free stuff! Great (free) Training!

Oh, and you will get to have the best students and good job security as a Chemistry or Physics teacher!  Here’s the offer for summer training at NSU at Talequah:

NSU Chemistry and Physics Academy

Northeastern State University (NSU) has been awarded a statewide grant from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to increase the number of certified Chemistry and Physics teachers in the state of Oklahoma. The NSU Chemistry and Physics Academy (NSU-CAPA) will provide research-based professional development for certified science teachers who want to become certified to teach Chemistry and Physics. The two-year program will focus on teacher knowledge, teacher practice, and student achievement in Chemistry and Physics.

The program will recruit 20 science teachers statewide and will include a one-week summer program on the Tahlequah campus of NSU. Housing will be provided as needed. The program will use the Blackboard system to help develop a statewide Community of Practice. Participants will conduct outreach activities at the Oklahoma Science Teacher Association annual meeting at the University of Central Oklahoma and at the Northeastern Oklahoma Mathematics and Science Teacher Association annual meeting at NSU. These meetings will provide opportunities for other science teachers to interact with program participants and will provide participants networking opportunities with experienced Chemistry and Physics teachers. Schools will be involved in determining the implementation of the program, including the date of the summer program, the specific content of the summer program and follow-up activities, and the implementation of program objectives.

The benefits to teacher participants include a Venier LabQuest 2 and the following probes: temperature probe, motion detector, pH probe (Additional probes and Lab Pro Software will be supplied the second year.), a modest stipend, room and board for eight participants, lunches, thirty-five hours of professional development during the summer, online follow-up activities and support during the academic year, and funds to take the OSAT in Chemistry and in Physics at the conclusion of the program. Please see additional details and benefits on the following pages.

To become a partner in this program, the appropriate school administrator needs to sign the Memorandum of Agreement that can be found in the enclosed pages. Please sign on the line that identifies your school. Additional details concerning the responsibilities of all partners and teacher participants are included as well. After signing the page, please FAX it to 918-458-9693. SignedMemorandum of Agreement sheets are due by Wednesday, November 28th. If you have questions, please call the Program Director, Dr. April Adams at 918-444-3819 or e-mail her atadams001@nsuok.edu. More information, including a letter to the principal is attached.

 

How to spot satellites

Image from NASA

So you’re looking up at the stars one night and you see something up there moving… suddenly it goes out.  Was that a satellite?  Was it an airplane?

There are a lot of websites out there for watching satellites but the best, most comprehensive and one of the oldest is www.heavens-above.com.  I have been using it for almost as long as the internet itself has been around.

It’s great to know that at a certain time tonight you can step outside, look in a certain part of the sky, and maybe, just maybe, see a satellite suddenly appear and whiz by.

You will need your latitude and longitude; there are lots of ways to get that.  Then go to the heavens-above site and just play around with it.

The first and easiest is the ISS, followed by the Iridium satellites.  With practice you can even see the Iridiums in the daytime!  The best way is to practice on these two until you get pretty good at it – then there are hundreds more.  And, the site has lots and lots of other good information about spacecraft.  The more time you spend there, the more things you’ll want to try.

Keep these things in mind though:

1) Your fist help at arm’s length covers about 10 degrees.  Use that to measure altitude (Alt.) above the horizon.

2)  The direction (North, northeast, etc.) is given as a bearing and is called “Az.”.  East is 90, south is 180, west is 270, etc.

3) “Magnitude” is how bright the satellite will be.  The smaller the number the brighter it is.  Anything smaller (brighter) than zero will be very bright, like an airplane.

4) Airplanes often have their flashers on; satellites do not.

5) The light from a satellite is reflected from the Sun.  That’s why it will suddenly appear in the middle of the sky and will suddenly go out.  The website tell you exactly when these will happen.

6) The whole thing is an estimation.  It’s a sort of a sport.  Times may vary, usually a little later as the orbits decay unexpectedly, and magnitude can change too.

Have fun! and let us know how you did.  or didn’t.

Physics workshop for all levels – elementary and up

Professional Development Opportunities for Teachers:

  • 2012 AAPT/PTRA ToPPS II: Designed for In-Service Oklahoma Teachers of Physics and Physical Science, this professional development opportunity is a 5-day summer institute (with 2 follow-up sessions during the 2012 – 2013 academic year).  This is a very “hands-on,” “minds-on” professional development opportunity.  Those seeking to enhance their students’ learning in physics and physical science are encouraged to apply!
  • Details:

o   Summer institute runs July 9 – 13that the Alva campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University

o   $600 stipend ($400 at end of 5-day summer institute; $100 for each follow-up session)

o   Free instructional/curriculum materials endorsed by AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers)

o   High-tech and Low-tech equipment used

o   This year’s topics: Energy, Momentum and Impulse

o   Total of 40 hours of professional development (30 in July, 5 at each follow-up session)

o   Free on-site housing (if staying in dorms)

o   Website:  www.nwosu.edu/ToPPS

o   Participants may enroll in 3 hours of graduate EDUC, PHYS or PHSC credit to apply toward an advanced degree

o   A $100 refundable check will be required of applicants (checks will be returned at the close of the summer institute)

While this PD opportunity is designed for HS physics teachers, MS and ES teachers may also apply.  We are fully aware that science teachers wear many hats, and we want to encourage teachers of all grade levels to consider this opportunity.

 

Please let list members know that they can contact me directly if they have any questions.

 

Thank You!

Steve

 

Steven J. Maier, PhD

Chair, Department of Natural Science

Associate Professor of Physics

Northwestern Oklahoma State University

Science Building 107-B

709 Oklahoma Blvd.

Alva, OK  73717

 

sjmaier@nwosu.edu

580.327.8562 (o)

580.327.8556 (f)

History of Oklahoma Highways

Today seems to have evolved into an Oklahoma History theme.  Fine, let it go in that direction then.  Here is another one of Wes Kinsler’s sites that I have used often. This one is about the history of Oklahoma Highways.  It’s good for armchair traveling, either down the highway or backwards into time.

http://okhighways.wkinsler.com/

Oklahoma Bridges

A photographic history of bridges throughout Oklahoma, and some discussions and diagrams of the various kinds of trusses. Especially useful for students working on a balsa-wood bridge for Engineering Day!  The pages “Bridge Design” and “Oklahoma Bridge Types” would be excellent required reading for these students.

http://okbridges.wkinsler.com/