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Pomona College Workshop Provides "Cool & Groovy" Physics Lessons for High School Teachers

As concern continues to mount about U.S. competitiveness in math and science, Pomona College will host its Fifth Annual Physics Teachers Workshop on Sunday, February 24, 2007, providing Southern California high school physics teachers with both updates on advances in physics and hands-on experiments designed to meet the time and budgetary constraints of a typical high school.

Focusing on “Cool & Groovy,” the workshops include a demonstration measuring the speed of light and two hands-on lab activities:

  • In “Physics on the Electric Guitar,” a “pick-up” on an electric guitar uses magnetic induction to detect the motion of strings. In the loudspeaker, the process is reversed. Students are led through a series of explorations on magnetism and electromagnetism designed to build understanding of these phenomena. The lab culminates in an activity where students use a homemade pick-up and speaker along with an inexpensive amplifier to play a mock electric guitar.
  • “Too Cool to Resist” focuses on superconductivity, one of the most exciting macroscopic quantum effects in physics, leading to Nobel prizes in both theoretical and experimental physics. Working with liquid nitrogen, participants will cool samples down to approximately 77K and see the effect of temperature on the resistance of a “normal” conductor, and the radically different effect on a superconductor. The lab ends with a demonstration of the Meissner Effect, a superconducting classic!

According to David Tanenbaum, an associate professor of physics at Pomona College, “Most students get their first introduction to physics in high school classrooms, and we realize that many high school teachers have only minimal budgets and facilities. Our goal is to excite teachers and give them additional tools to excite their students. We hope the hands-on experiments will do that.”

The 2007 Pomona College workshop is co-sponsored by Pomona College, the CNS Institute for Physics Teachers and the National Science Foundation. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Five and one-half in-service credits will be awarded for participation. The event will be held at the Pomona College Milikan Laboratory, 610 N. College Ave., Claremont, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For a more detailed schedule, call (909) 621-8724.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.

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David Tanenbaum
Associate Professor of Physics, Pomona College
Phone: (909) 621-8722

Monica Plisch
Director, CNS Institute for Physics Teachers and
Lecturer, Applied and Engineering Physics
Cornell University
Phone: (607) 255-2102