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Program for the Spring 2011 meeting


Saturday, 14 May 2011
Pierce College, Woodland Hills

Registration: Central Courtyard, Center for the Sciences

Local Host: Lee Loveridge

Contribute a 15 minute talk or a brief demo for the Show'n Tell segment using the online submission form or communicate directly with the program chair, Eric Page. The deadline for contributions has passed.

Our hosts at Pierce College have arranged for a Mexican buffet to be provided by El Pollo Loco. There will be chicken, tortillas, spanish rice, pinto beans, salad, chips, and salsa. Bottled water will also be available. Meals will be $7 each. If you're interested in reserving a meal you fill out this short online form.

Question: How many living people are famous enough that most Americans know of them?

The person giving the median answer is the winner and gets first pick of the door prizes.


  • Exit the 101 Freeway at Winnetka.
  • Turn north on Winnetka and follow it to Victory.
  • Turn left on Victory.
  • Turn left on Mason
  • Turn left at the first chance you get. This will be Olympic and the Center for Sciences is on that corner. There should be plenty of parking in lot 7 on that day. (See Campus Map)

Free parking will be available in Lot 7 (north of the Center for Sciences)


Vernier Software and Technology
W.H. Freeman

Please take some time to check out the commercial workshops and exhibits at the meeting and especially to thank the representatives for their support of our organization.

Program Schedule  
8:00 AM
Registration, Refreshments, Exhibits
and Poster Preview

9:15 AM

Welcome and Announcements

9:30 AM

Contributed Talk: "ALPhA Immersion for the Advanced Lab"
Greg Severn
University of San Diego

ALPhA’s Laboratory Immersion program provides an excellent experience for all those who want to learn about a new advanced laboratory experiment so as to teach it with confidence. This talk will be about a bit of the black-magic that is inevitably required to make experiments work, in this instance, in the case of the saturation-absorption spectroscopy of Rb, using tunable diode lasers, and about how the experiment was implemented at the University of San Diego. I hope to evangelize for the ALPhA's (Advanced Laboratory PHysics Association) immersion program as well, because it really is quite excellent.

9:45 AM

Panel Discussion : "Use of Tutorials in Introductory Physics"
Homeyra Sadaghiani: Cal Poly Pomona
Michelle Meyer: Los Angeles Pierce College
Margaret Wessling: Los Angeles Pierce College
Lee Loveridge: Los Angeles Pierce College
Chija Bauer: La Salle High School
Bill Duxler: Los Angeles Pierce College

For several years now at Pierce we have used Tutorials in Introductory Physics by McDermott and Schaffer as an integral part of our instruction in calculus based physics both in the sequence for physical science majors and the sequence for biological science majors and pre-medical students. We plan a 30 minute round table discussion of our experience with questions and answers.

10:15 AM

Contributed Talk: "PhysicsFirst: Debate to Data"
Rachel Zabierek
The Bishop's School

The “Physics First” movement has gradually begun to take hold in many public districts and private schools across America. The notion that high school science curricula can successfully be inverted to support physics as the fundamental science and also allow for enriched chemistry and biology curricula has been controversial among scientists and teachers alike. While verdicts on the efficacy of a “Physics First” sequence are far from certain, preliminary data are shedding some light on the impact of a physics-chemistry-biology sequence to scientific interest, literacy and proficiency. A meta-analysis of these studies will be presented.

10:30 AM

Invited Talk: "Should the Culture of University Science Education Be Changed?"
Richard Hake
Indiana University, Emeritus

In a recent Science article "Changing the Culture of Science Education at Research Universities" [Anderson et al. (2011)], thirteen biology research scientists, all Howard Hughes Memorial Institute Fellows, deplore the prevalent university reward systems that "heavily weight efforts of many professors toward research at the expense of teaching." They advocate seven initiatives which might help to address "widespread concern about educating enough scientists and scientifically literate citizens." Especially important is the education of future K-12 teachers. I shall review an essay "The General Population's Ignorance of Science Related Societal Issues: A Challenge for the University" [Hake (2000)] based on an earlier libretto with the leitmotiv: "The road to U.S. science literacy begins with effective university science courses for pre-college teachers." The opera dramatizes the fact that the failure of universities throughout the universe to properly educate pre-college teachers is responsible for our failure to observe any signs of either terrestrial or extraterrestrial intelligence.

11:30 AM

Business Meeting

12:00 PM

Lunch and Planetarium Shows
Show 1 — 12:00-12:30
Show 1 — 1:00-1:30

1:30 PM

Invited Talk: " Exploring the Universe with WISE"
Ned Wright
UCLA, Physics

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is a NASA Medium Explorer (MIDEX) that surveyed the entire sky in 4 mid-infrared bands at 3.4, 4.6, 12 and 22 microns with vastly greater sensitivity than previous all-sky surveys at these wavelengths.   WISE observed everything that is further from the Sun than the Earth, and this includes minor planets, comets, nearby brown dwarfs and star forming regions both in the Milky Way and in distant galaxies.   The WISE long wavelength channels are very powerful for detecting Ultra-Luminous Infrared Galaxies, and WISE should detect the most luminous galaxies in the Universe. The WISE short wavelength channels are very powerful for detecting old cold brown dwarfs, and WISE should detect the nearest brown dwarfs to the Sun.   WISE will also measure the radiometric diameters of about 200,000 asteroids.   WISE has a 40 cm cryogenic telescope, 1024x1024 arrays, a scan mirror to freeze images on the arrays while the spacecraft scans continuously, and takes 47'x47' images every 11 seconds in all four bands from an IRAS/COBE style Sun-synchronous nearly polar low Earth orbit. WISE launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on 14 Dec 2009, ejected its cover on 29 Dec 2009, and entered routine survey operations on 14 Jan 2010.   WISE completed an all-sky survey on 17 Jul 2010.   WISE ran out of cryogen at the end of September, but continued an asteroid search using its 3.4 and 4.6 micron channels until 31 Jan 2011.

2:30 PM

"Show'n Tell"

John Altounji, "Hair Raising"
Bob Rumer, "Using High Speed Cameras to Teach Physics"
James Lincoln, "A kinesthetic radian, angular speed lab"
Jeff Phillips , "Quantum Illusions"

Frank Lee , "Cheap and easy near IR webcam"

3:00 PM

Contributed Talk: "Build Your Own E-Field Demonstrator"
James Lincoln
Tarbut V' Torah

In this talk I instruct on the creation of an extremely inexpensive, highly effective Electric Field Demonstrator. I also advise on how to get the best results from the device once it is constructed. Further, I compare the ones available from science suppliers to the home-made version.

3:15 PM

Contributed Talk: "How Do You Tune a Fish?"
Fred Carrington
Pierce College

Just how do you tune a fish? The same way you tune any musical instrument, you work on its scales. On a more serious "note" I will show the physics of musical scale construction and compare the two major systems, the JUST INTONATION and the WELL TEMPERED INTONATION. The above is just one of the many topics found in a new course we are offering at Pierce, titled The Physics of Music.

3:30 PM

Contributed Talk: "An inexpensive inverted digital microscope for exploring physics at small scales"
Brian Rasnow
CSU Channel Islands

If optical microscopes were inexpensive, compact, robust, trivial to use, and provided quantitative digital multispectral images, would they be standard apparatus in physics labs? My company, Etaluma Inc., has built such a microscope. The LumaScope is a compact high performance inverted brightfield/epifluorescence microscope with just a focus knob, light switch, USB port, and no eyepiece (images are displayed on a computer). It is revealing a plethora of applications for teaching optics, fluidics, diffusion, electronics, and biophysics. I’ll give a brief description and a live demonstration of a few of its unique capabilities in the classroom and lab.

3:45 PM
The World Famous "Order of Magnitude Contest" and Door Prizes
4:00 PM
Meeting Adjourns

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