WAPT 2006 Annual Meeting: Summary of, and Notes on, Workshops and Talks




Introduction to the Physics of Cell Phones


Kevin Hugo and Greg Franzen

Appleton West Physical Science/Physics

phone: 730-3981





Completing this session will increase your understanding of wireless communication; give you the foundation to begin to facilitate your students´ understanding and more importantly their interest. Topics of sound, light and electromagnetic waves are all imbedded into these activities. This workshop will have participants perform 3 investigations of different modes of transmitting voice and information via wires, light and radio waves. The participants will then create models/explanations of one of the modes of transfer, present them to the group, and discuss the connections to wireless communication. These three investigations are the foundational activities of a much more expansive soon to be available curriculum on how cell phones, blackberries and iPODs work. We are presenting what we learned at the Wireless Leadership Conference conducted by Mark Davids, Rick Forrest and Don Pata. Supported by Karl Klimek and Convergence Education Foundation.

Note: Contact Mark Davids for more information on the kits.


Large Scale Motion on Earth Represented on a Small Scale


Gary Baier

Green Bay East High School

phone: 920-448-2090





This workshop will attempt to create a visual representation of large scale events on a desktop scale. Ocean tides, the Gulf Stream and Coriolis acceleration can be explained using simple paper and pencil experiments. From past experience these topics can easily be approached by students without the use of extensive mathematics or expensive equipment. Once the concepts are understood, the mathematics is much easier. Every participant will take with them all the background information and essential equipment required to conduct these lessons.
Note: Check the Maury Project site on "Exploring the Physical Foundations of Oceanography."


Civic Engagement in the Physics Curriculum


Theo Koupelis

University of Wisconsin-Marathon

phone: (715)-261-6286


This workshop is aimed at those interested in improving physics education within the context of civic engagement. We will describe a relevant national program (SENCER: Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) and engage in group activities that will provide a springboard for making curricular changes that will make civic engagement an integral part of the physics curriculum.

Note: Check the SENCER site for more information. The project is the signature effort of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.


Genius is not Immune to Persistent Misconceptions


 Mark Lattery

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

phone: (920)-424-7105


 In this seminar/workshop, participants will: (1) review conceptual difficulties in mechanics that impeded great scientists (e.g., Hipparchus, Galileo, and Newton); (2) learn new ways to identify, classify, and address student misconceptions; and (3) perform related experiments with fan carts and timers.


1) See article by Robert Morse: Fan Unit Physics (The Physics Teacher, 43, 162, 2005).

2) The manual for the fan cart from PASCO is at the bottom of this page.


 Health Physics for High Schools/Middle Schools


North Central Chapter Health Physics Society

phone: (414)-456-4410


The North Central Chapter of the HPS will be presenting a workshop on health physics and radiation safety, with emphasis on taking these topics into the classrooms of high schools and middle schools.


Topics covered:

Basics health physics/risks from radiation.

Health physics resources; in print and on the web.

Indoor Radon, with classroom/lab activities.

Medical use of radiation.

Education and careers in health physics.

Radiation sources in the classroom.

Emergency preparedness relating to health physics.

Classroom/lab activity: Wilson cloud chamber.


Each participant will receive a binder with printed materials and a Geiger Counter, supplied by NCCHPS.

Note: Contact Marcum Martz for more details.





Talk Presenter

Title / Abstract

1.  Mark Lattery

Determining the Speed of Light With a Nestle Crunch Bar

At a recent UW Oshkosh SPS meeting we used a microwave and a Nestle Crunch bar to determine the speed of light. The data were burnt but still tasty.


Note: This is the link to the article.

2.  Matt Evans

Effectiveness of Student Response Systems in the Classroom

This is a follow-up to my previous talks about technology in the classroom. I will show how we are trying to determine the effectiveness of clickers in the classroom.


Note: Check http://iclicker.com/

3.  Ken Mendelson

The story of c

The letter c is the standard symbol for the speed of light, but that was not always the case. I describe how c was first introduced into the theory of electromagnetism and the stages by which it came to be used to denote the speed of light.


Note: Article to be published in AJP.

4.  Matthew Vonk

Sound Card Based Electronics Labs

The ease of use and nearly universal appeal of digital music offers an excellent opportunity to engage students in electronics.

5.  Alan Scott

 Addicted to Placebos

This presentation is based on my recently published book "Addicted to Placebos: Understanding Science and Society" (Lulu Inc. Publishing, http://www.lulu.com/scotta). It is a unique and provocative physical science book that will advance critical thinking for students and the general public.

6.  Gregory Martin

On Inertial and Gravitational Mass

It is common in introductory physics courses to treat inertial and gravitational masses as equivalent properties of material objects and to represent them by the same symbol. There is a good reason for this: there is no detectable difference between these two concepts. In this presentation, a simple theory and experiment intended to examine Galileo's Principle of Equivalence at a level appropriate for students of introductory mechanics will be discussed.

7.  Jim Mallmann

Some Elementary but Surprising Facts about Evaporation

Analysis of some easily obtained data for evaporation of liquids made me aware of some facts that surprised me, and that may surprise you as well. Contemplating those facts has inspired some questions and problems for students of introductory physics courses and for the teachers of those courses.


 Joe Zoller

Online Services as Teaching Tool

In this talk I will discuss the use of online services toward enhancing teacher-to-teacher and student-to-student discussions.


Note: Check http://physics.zollercoaster.com


 Jim Madsen

Some Surprising Things You Can Learn Building a Neutrino Detector

The IceCube neutrino telescope is in the third year of construction at the South Pole. Hear how the performance of the telescope is dependent on the weather today and over the last hundred thousand years.


Note: Check the IceCube Project.


 Ken Menningen

A Heat Engine and Clickers

I will demonstrate an unusual heat engine and then say a few words about how I use a classroom response system ("clickers") in my classes.


 Paul Martin

Audio Free-ware to Demonstrate Wave Properties of Sound and Music


 M. Maheswaran

Disk Formation in Hot Stars

A model for the formation of decretion disks in hot stars is presented. Stellar wind material flows from the stellar surface to the equatorial plane along magnetic field lines and across a shock surface to form an equatorial disk. A disk rotation law is also presented.


 Ruth Howes

Five Role Models for Introductory Astronomy*

Traditionally, physics has lower numbers of women than other sciences. Recent work indicates that rather than plugging a leaky pipeline into physics, we should concentrate on encouraging women and minorities to drop into the physics pool. One way to do this is to provide them with role models to demonstrate that they can pursue careers in space science. Few courses can bring live role models into the classroom, and all of us need to focus on science during our brief lecture time. Five modules describing the contributions of underrepresented groups to astronomy have been prepared, emphasizing the science these role models have done. Each module contains a power point presentation and a background paper along with references to materials both on the web and in print.


*work supported by a grant from the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium


Note: Check the PowerPoint presentations on A. B. C. Walker, Nancy Grace Roman, Islamic Astronomy, Eric Wilcots, and Native American. Also, the MS Word documents on  A. B. C. Walker, Nancy Grace Roman, Islamic Astronomy, Eric Wilcots, and Native American.


 David Tamres

A Demo for the First Lecture in Analytical Mechanics

A ponderomotive force is a low-frequency force that arises from high-frequency nonlinear effects. The typical college student starting an upper-division course in analytical mechanics has never heard of ponderomotive forces and is therefore likely to be astounded when shown a mechanical system whose behavior is the result of a ponderomotive force in action. Such a mechanical system will be demonstrated. The underpinning theory will be discussed, along with the reason why one might choose to demonstrate this mechanical system at the first lecture in analytical mechanics.


 Mark Larchez

An Electromechanical System: Introductory Physics Concepts Shown in an Easy Hands-On Measurement of the Speed of a Circular Saw

Many beginning students have seen (and maybe used) a circular saw and an oscilloscope, but angular velocity and the linear time base may be unfamiliar to them. Combining the hands-on devices with the more abstract concepts and adding a laser and a photocell, you can make a quick but interesting measurement. It gives an opportunity for a easy challenge to extend the range of the students' understanding and ability.


 Steven Sahyun

A DVD of Radioactive Decay Experiments

This talk will demonstrate an instructional DVD video of neutron activation of five different materials and a recording of the decay data for those materials. The DVD also contains data that students can analyze to determine the half-lives of the elements displayed in the video and an instructor's manual.


Note: Contact Steve for information on the DVD. This is the link to the PowerPoint slides.


 Michael Sindberg

Graphical Treatment of Projectile Motion

I will present a low-tech system for graphing projectile trajectories based on Galileo's "odd-number" principle. Advantages and shortcomings will be discussed, and handouts will be provided.