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[Phys-l] HS physics McGyver demo and activity blog

Hi Folks --

I recently ran across an interesting blog.

It's the blog of some guy named Scott who teaches HS
physics and physical science in Philadelphia.

The interesting part is that he likes to cobble up
unusual demos. He bills himself as "the McGyver of
physics teachers".

Overall I have to give the site a _mixed review_. It
contains some good ideas, plus a lot of useless but
harmless fluff, plus some completely wrong physics.

As usual, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
By that I mean an expert physics teacher could skim
the site and get some good ideas while ignoring the
wrong ideas ... whereas someone not so skillful
would be at risk of picking up all the wrong ideas.

Among the good points:
-- There is a commendable emphasis on critical
thinking, for instance the unit on the elusive
Pacific tree octopus.
-- There is a commendable emphasis on having the
students build stuff. Improvisational building,
as opposed to following a cookbook.

I have to wonder about the level of some of the
projects. The last time I built catapults out of
popsicle sticks, the builders were 9-year-old Cub
Scouts. My first thought was that I'd be embarrassed
to do it with HS seniors ... but on second thought
I guess it depends on the group. If they've never
built anything before, almost anything is better
than nothing. You can sometimes upgrade this sort
of activity, by calling for bigger structures, more
precision, et cetera. Also the activity is predicated
on having enough hot glue guns to go around, which is
not always the case ... and I'm not even sure it's
a good idea. By the time kids reach HS physics,
they should be using more appropriate adhesive

The blog contains some seriously misguided ideas
about "the scientific method".

Anyway ... you might want to take a look and decide
for yourself. It doesn't take long to skim the site.
It provides food for thought.