The Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics
The Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics is a great source of education
and inspiration. For more information about the institute in general go to www.perimeterinstitute.ca/
The most important opportunities for teachers and students are:
1) Einstein Plus - This is a one-week summer workshop at PI
which is amazing! The institute pays for everthing (except travel for out-of-country
visitors). You get to work with forty other physics teachers from around the
world. You listen to keynote presentations from top researchers. You learn about
new ways to teach physics and how to present modern physics at the high school
level. You leave with great resources that you can use in your classroom and
promote to other teachers in your area.You owe it to yourself to apply. http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/outreach/teachers/programs-and-opportunities/einsteinplus
2) International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP)
- This is a two-week session for top students who have just finished grade 11
or 12 physics and are hungry for more. An incredible opportunity and the expenses
are covered by PI. http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/outreach/students/programs/international-summer-school-young-physicists
3) Teachers Resource Kits - These are mostly excellent and
can be ordered on the PI website for free if you teach in Canada. http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/outreach/teachers/class-kits
If you teach outside Canada, you will have to pay. The amount is reasonable
and this will help PI to be able to continue producing these kits. The kits
are $30 for the print version and $25 for the electronic version. The resources
deal with modern physics with lots of hands-on activities and subversive connections
to classical curriculum topics. They contain worksheets for students, answers
for teachers and lots of ectra information about the physics and the pedagogy.
They are the most high school friendly resource that exists anywhere. Most contain
materials that can be used with intermediate science students as well as physics
students. Most are available in French as well as English. Full disclosure -
I worked on many of these and not others. I may be biased. The kits consist
of the following:
- The Expanding Universe *** This is the
latest kit. It was released at the end of 2014. It has no video but it has
some grerat activities to help teachers get their grade 9 Astronomy classes
to go beyond the Milky Way. The students use line spectra and distance of
galaxies and caclulate the age of the universe. They use a simple model of
the universe to understand how this data tells us that the galaxies are not
moving away from us - instead space itself is expanding. The other activities
involve more challenging concepts and explore how this expansion can be run
backwards to predict the cosmic microwave backgound and how the details of
the CMB are similar to musical overtones.
- Mystery of Dark Matter.**** This has 30-minute video and
many hands-on activities. The kit can provide excellent activities for several
classes for either grade 9 Astronomy or for grade 12 physics. (Note: The first
version was only appropriate for senior physics students. If you have an older
version, I reccomen that you get the new one.) The resource uses circular
motion, Newtonian gravity and gravitational lensing to provide evidence for
- Beyond the Atom: Remodelling Particle Physics **** This
has a 30 minute video and many activities that has your students look at models
of the atom, fields, circular motion, electromagnetism and conservation laws
and leads them into neutrinos, quarks and the Higgs boson. The kit can provide
excellent activities for a couple of classes for grade 9 Chemistry and several
for grade 12 Physics.
- Everyday Einstein: The GPS and Relativity **** This has
a 5 minute video that looks at how the GPS works and introduces students to
the idea that time can be altered by speed and gravity. Activities have students
look at triangulation, precision, orbital motion, the speed of light, frames
of reference and leads them into special and general relativity. The kit can
provide excellent activities for one class of grade 9 Astronomy and several
for grade 11 or 12 physics.
- Challenge of Quantum Reality **** This has a 30-minute
video and several hands-on activities. It starts with waves, light and the
double-slit experiment and leads the students into the quantum concepts of
wave-particle duality and measurement-disturbance. The story line of the movie
is silly and time-consuming, however, the animations are fabulous and the
comments from physicists very helpful. The kit provides excellent activities
for several classes in a senior physics course. .
- Measuring Planck's Constant ** This is one of the only
quantum experiments available to high school teachers. It uses LED's and voltmeters
to measure Planck's constant. The experiment uses an unnecessarily large battery.It
also requires variable resistors which may be hard to wire and which students
tend to fry. There are a number of other versions of this experiement and
I reccommend that you first try the simple one here.
This is a one-class experiment and would be well-complimented by a second
class exploring the Photo Electric Effect
- The Process of Science ** This kit is
directed at grade 9 and 10 science students. It attempts to involve them in
exploring various topics as a scientist would. I have not found it very useful,
largely because it does not look at specific modrn topics in depth. I did
like the News Flash exercise about the 'faster than light' neutrinos. This
is on the CD and not printed in the booklet.
- Revolutions in Science ** This is a set of worksheets to
encourage discussions about three of the one-minute animations - Alice in
Bob in Wonderland. They deal with speciaal relativity, general relativity
and quantum physics. These worksheets are great if they are accompaanied by
Dr. Richard Epp who developed them, but they don't work very well without
him. I found them useful as a tool to explore my own understanding and as
a place to mine some good questions and activities. The beach ball and tape
is one great way to explore gravity, curved space and time. . The PhET EM
radiation simulation is incorporated really well in quantum models of the
- Physics of Innovation *This is a mainly a slide show that
accompanies a lecture by the very charismatic Dr. Ricard Epp. It is not useful
as a resource to teachers.
- Alice and Bob in Wonderland *** These are 9 one-minute
that open up questions about many topics in modern physicsThey are free. I
use many of them;
Why doesn't the moon fall down? ***** This is fabulous! It
is about circular motion. It is the only one that answers the question.
Can we travel through time? **** I use this when looking
at black holes or how gravity slows time.Is that star really there?
What keeps us stuck to the Earth? **** A nice look at Einstein's
equivalence principle to introduce general relativity.
Is that Star really There? **** Looking back in space is
back in time. Good for grade 9 Astronomy.
How can atoms exist? **** I use this when looking at quantum
models of the atom.
Why is it dark at night? **
This is a look at Olber's paradox. There are many logical steps before
you get the key concept.
Where does energy come from? * A look at
E = mcc in fusion in the sun. It basically illustrates a fact.
Why can't we walk through walls? * This
has framed a very good question. What is the answer?
How does a flashlight work? I haven't used this, but I think I ought
to. My model of how circuits work and what I teach my students seems to be
wrong. However, this needs careful thought. When should we teach this?
a Scientist**: There are dozens of interviews, all under
5 minutes in length andswering a sinilar set of questions. It might be a good
class assignment, where each student reports on one scientist. I haven't tried
this yet. There are lots of female physicsists.
of Ideas *This tries to take six most powerful ideas in physics and explain
them in a way that a book can't. I don't know why the designer thought that
scratchy drawings and shaky animations would be better - but they aren't.
This is basically a book with an annoying interface.
ISSYP I haven't had a chance to look through this. You might want to have
some of your really keen students look at this and report back.
of Dark Matter Video Game *This is not very useful. You succeeed by being
told which types of matter you have too much of having good fast twitch reflexes.
It is an activity that promotes memorizing that matter can be planets, brown
dwarfs, stars, star mass (what is this?) or dark matter. The worksheets have
a lot of multiple choice questions that would be good used with the Mystery
of Dark Matter video.
Quantum Tamers ** This a very slick and entertaining hour-long video.
However, it costs $169.95 and features almost no women besides some dancers.
Lectures - You and your students can listen to cutting edge researchers
talk about their work. The lectures are free and tickets are snapped up almost
immediately, but you can watch them by going to the past
public lecturers.**Most of the lectures will be too difficult for most of
your students. It would be really great to have a bunch of teachers and students
go through these and rank them.
Last updated January 2015