Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teaching Physics in Remote Places

This year we are doing "Integrated Science" using a video course by Prof. Robert Hazen called The Joy of Science. Hazen takes a chronological approach, so we are currently learning about classical physics. In the video Hazen describes simple experiments that can be done at home. We just tried one today, trying to find the declination of a compass needle towards the Earth's North Pole using paper clips, corks and a bowl of water. Our experiment had some problems, so afterwards we went online to look up other ways we could have designed it.

One resource that popped up is from The Institute of Physics is a scientific charity devoted to increasing the practice, understanding and application of physics to all audiences, from specialists to the general public. One of their resources is an online book of experiments called Teaching Physics in Remote Places. It seems perfect for doing physics in the home or classroom -- chances are your set-up isn't any more primitive than that used by the authors of this books!


  1. I've been lurking over at Home Chemistry and just found Home Physics. You might want to check out the Exploratorium website: http://www.exploratorium.edu/

    It has tons of resources! Thanks for all your gathering of resources. We are fellow homeschoolers and working on Chemistry right now.

  2. I personally feel like the more Physics that is taught at home or in the classroom that is interactive will allow people who want to learn about Physics feel like it is easier to learn than they had expected. Everyone has a superstition about Physics and about the difficulty that comes about through taking that class because of the integration of math, calculus, trigonometry and science that is involved. In the class that I am taking (Physics 101) I feel like I get the most out of the lecture and lesson when there are specific demonstrations during the presentation. For example, I was having a difficult time understanding how to draw a Free Body Diagram and where to draw the arrows that specify the contact forces. After showing a weight that was dangling from a string while the teacher held the string I then understood that the tension in a force and gravity is a force as well. The more that Physics can be applied to simple everyday things the better. Also in class, we learned about what we could conclude when a car is at rest when there is a downward gravitational pull on Earth on the car and upward contact force of Earth on it are equal and opposite because the net force on the car is zero. This is confusing to understand if you do not put yourself into a real life situation and can often be tricky but when I got home from class and sat in my car and realized why the net force on the car is zero I began to understand the Physics behind it. I think it is extremely necessary for children to grow up around Physics because it is a vital part of our everyday life.

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