Fall 2004 meeting of the Southern California Section

Saturday, October 23, 8:15 AM–4:30 PM

Seaver North Auditorium ,Pomona College
Local Host:Thomas Moore

Local Contact: Thomas Moore,

8:15 AM    Registration, Refreshments, Exhibits

8:30 AM   Workshops

               “Low Cost Physics Experiments for Overcrowded and Poorly Equipped High Schools Classrooms ” 

Leaders:Gary Reynolds and Bill Layton
Location: Millikan 112

               “Vernier Workshop ” 

Leader: Clarence Bakken

Location: Andrew 151

               “Quarks in the Classroom ” 

Leader: Al Siger

Location: Andrew 157


10:00 AM   Welcome and Introductions


10:15 AM  “Metaphors in Physics: A New Perspective on the Nature of Paradigm Shifts”

Jonas Mureika, Loyola Marymount University

10:35 AM  “Relativity for the Elementary School Student-Can Real Science be Introduced at the Elementary Level? ”

Fred Carrington ,Grant High School

11:00 AM  Invited Talk
“General Relativity in a Nutshell ”

Thomas Moore, Pomona College

11:50 AM  Announcements/ Business Meeting.

12:00       No-host Lunch

$5-$7 in campus dining hall, or

Bring your own sack lunch.


1:30 PM    “Show and Tell”

Glenn Malin, Gary Reynolds,Francisco Izaguirre, et al.

2:00 PM    "Save Time and Help Students Succeed with the Latest Developments in Physics Educational Technology"
-Mastering Physics
-Classroom Response Systems

Nick Rumpff, Addison Wesley/Benjamin Cummings

2:40 PM    "A High School Autonomous Robotics League"

Gary Reynolds , Santa Ana High School

2:55PM    "What's Weight? "

Nuria Rodriguez , Santa Monica College, and Bill Layton, UCLA


3:15 PM   Invited Talk
“Einstein's Biggest Blunder”

Thomas Helliwell, Harvey Mudd College

4:15 PM    Order of Magnitude Contest & Door Prizes

4:30 PM   Closing Remarks/Meeting Adjourns


Low Cost Physics Experiments for Overcrowded and Poorly Equipped High Schools Classrooms
Leader:  Gary Reynolds and Bill Layton

“Quarks in the Classroom"

Leader:  Al Siger


Why do quarks conbine in certain ways and not in others? The rules governing these interactions are surprisingly simple. This workshop will present the principles of unitary symmetry in a way that will engage students. With just a handful of rules, students can derive the multiplet structure of quark-quark and quark-antiquark combinations. The 3-dimensional structures of SU(4) are particularly intricate and appealing. Each participant will receive a geometric construction kit for building such structures.


Invited Talk:

“General Relativity in a Nutshell ”
Thomas Moore, Pomona College

Abstract: Einstein's general theory of relativity is generally considered to be challenging and abstract, but its conceptual foundation is really quite simple. Indeed, only a few steps of reasoning (involving only high-school physics and math) are needed to take one from Galileo's idea that all objects fall with the same acceleration to Einstein's idead that gravity is a manifestation of the curvature of spacetime. This talk will walk us through these steps, and so demonstrate how you can describe the essence of general relativity to students at almost any level.


 “Einstein's Biggest Blunder ”
Thomas Helliwell, Harvey Mudd College

Abstract: Nineteen-seventeen was not a good year for Albert Einstein. He had a liver ailment, stomach ulcers, and jaundice. He also made his biggest blunder. Or did he?


Contributed Talks:

“Metaphors in Physics: A New Perspective on the Nature of Paradigm Shifts ”
Jonas Mureika, Loyola Marymount University


Metaphors are a psychological and linguistic construct through which connections are made between two seemingly disparate entities, in an attempt to form a hitherto unseen connection. Major paradigm shifts in physics--notably Einstein's work in relativity and quantum theory--have been made by a similar relation of apparently non-related quantities, whose symmetric juxtaposition in an equation yeild new understandings of the related phenomena. This is not only a refreshing philosophical interpretation of the nature of mathematical physics, but also can be seen as a new pedagogical approach to teaching advanced theoretical concepts to students of all abilities and academic backgrounds.


“A High School Competitive Robotics League-a Modest Start ”
Gary Reynolds, Santa Ana High School


A few high school physics teachers are starting an autonomous robotics competition, intellectually challenging for advanced students, but sufficiently modest in cost and time commitment to be attractive to any high school teacher who'd like to provide and extra-curricular opportunity for students to learn programming, electronics, and mechanical design.


“What's Weight? ”
Nuria Rodriguez, Santa Monica College and Bill Layton, UCLA


At the summer 2004 AAPT Meeting in Sacrament, Bill and I talked to Paul Hewitt about whether the classical definition of "weight" should be redefined in light of general relativity. This paper is based on our discussions with Paul which continued over several e-mails after the meeting.



What’s the Order of Magnitude Question?
“For how long a time could the rotational energy of the Earth be used to supply the world's needs without increasing the length of the day by more than a minute? ” 

As always, you are free to interpret the question any way you like, but remember: The winner—i.e., the person with the median answer—gets first pick of the door prizes!  Must be a member and must be present to win.

What’s for lunch?
In campus dining will be availabe for $5-$7. Or you can simply bring your own sack lunch and picnic on the lovely grounds.

Show’n Tell!
There’s still time available.  Share a favorite demo with your friends. 

Grateful thanks to our commercial supporters!
Vernier Scientific, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, and Addison Wesley/Benjamin Cummings

Future meetings (Mark your calendars)

AAPT Winter 2005, Jan. 8-12, Albuquerque

SCAAPT/NCAAPT Spring 2005, California Sate University at Fresno (date to be arranged)


How do I get to the meeting?

From the 10 , exit on Indian Hill and go north about two miles. Turn right on Harrison (6th is closed for construction), and then go north on College.


Take CA 210 (which extends eastward from I210), exit on the Towne Avenue offramp and go south about one mile. Turn left on Foothill and go east about one mile. Turn right of Indial Hill then go left in about five blocks on 8th St (6th is closed for construction), and finally go south on College.

For a campus map goto

Parking is available near the corner of 6th and College on city streets. There is usually a lot of parking extending northward on College from the corner of 6th.

The plenary sessions will be held in Seaver North Auditorium on the northwest corner of 6th and College and the workshops will be held in Millikan and Andrews across College avenue.

Where do I pay? 
Section dues are just $10/year and are our primary source of support; we receive nothing from the national organization.  Members get final programs before the meeting and are eligible for great door prizes.  See the SCAAPT website for how to sign up by mail or do it at the meeting.  We need your support!   Please help introduce us to your school or district colleagues. Bring a new teacher.  Heck, bring an old one!

Subscribe to the SCAAPT email list
For members and nonmembers. (We think you’ll join eventually!)

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(replacing “<name>” with your first and last name!)

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Visit the SCAAPT website  For meeting information, a list of section officers and contacts, link to the national AAPT, etc.

SCAAPT Officers 2003-2004

President:                 Forouzan Faridian

Vice President:         Sarah Johnson               

Vice President HS:   Gary Reynolds          

Past President:         Glenn Malin           

Section Rep:             Harvey Leff          

Treasurer:                 Mary Mogge   

Secretary                   Nuria Rodriguez

Editor:                      John Mallinckrodt