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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Super-fast imaging methods to see what the atomic world is doing!

There is always a good deal of interest when we bring up methods of how scientists observe small things - and we are talking molecular level on down to individual particles. This is the quantum realm.

A really interesting review article is posted by Nature, one of the leading science journals on the planet. Check it out to see scales down to 'atto' in the metric system. This is 10^-18, or one billionth of a billionth! Yes, we can talk about such scales both in terms of space and time scales! Enjoy!

Thank you to all who helped our African friends!!

Over the past 1.5 years, ETHS students and teachers have helped raise funds for friends in Malawi and Kenyan schools. ETHS sent $6400 to Malawi schools that are working with star teacher Andrews Nchessie, where land was purchased by the schools for their own crops. In addition, seed, fertilizer, materials for chicken coups, and funding to drill wells and put in irrigation systems were purchased so the schools can be self-sustaining during future droughts, and avoid the rampant famine from the past three years in that part of Africa.

For Kenya, $400 was wired in order for Makonjamare Primary School to purchase sporting equipment. This school is in rural Kenya, and they do not have any real balls or other equipment to play with. This school has another star teacher, Jacqueline Jumba-Kehura, who is our contact. Jacque founded the Lifting the Barriers Program in Kenya, and has helped teachers develop new teaching methods for rural, poor schools across the country. She has gained international recognition for this work!

We hope to develop some other collaborative classroom projects with these schools in the near future, which should be great fun!

JUNIORS - Fermilab TARGET Program for Summer Internship

Fermilab, which is about one hour from Evanston out in Batavia, has a summer internship for high school students. Called the TARGET Program, students work for 6 weeks and can make a stipend on top of it. This is a non-residential program, so you would need to have transportation for the full 6 weeks, and it is 8 hours per day.

The deadline for applications is February 21, 2018. Check out the link for the program, as students are exposed to how high energy particle physics is done!! There is an emphasis on underrepresented students in particle physics, which is primarily minority and female students.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Congratulations to the Global Teacher Prize Top 50 Finalists, Class of 2017!

A new batch of 50 ridiculously talented teachers from all around the world have been selected as this year's Top 50 Finalists in the Global Teacher Prize. This is run through the Varkey Foundation (in the United Kingdom), and is now known as the 'Nobel Prize for Teaching.' One of these teachers will end up winning a $1 million award in March of 2018, at a ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.This is the fourth year of the GTP, and tens of thousands teachers of all age groups have been nominated from some 170 countries. Congratulations to all of these wonderful people! One of them is from Chicago Public Schools.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Periods 3-4, 6, 8-9:

Check out the NOVA video called "Runaway Universe." This is about the expansion of the universe, and how scientists figured out it is accelerating. Take notes, and focus on the methods used to do this. How can astronomers figure out so many details of the universe, when all they have is some light from stars?  Think about what causes anything to accelerate, let alone a whole universe.

For tomorrow, check out the term "dark energy.'

Periods 3-4, 8-9:

After the NOVA, check out a video on inelastic collisions, using the example of a ballistic pendulum.

We will get into all this Thursday. Sorry to be out, it's a flu bug...happy Wednesday! :-)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


My apologies to everyone, as I have some annoying bug today.

Periods 3-4, 8-9:
Based on the discussion yesterday, some follow-up. I do want to collect your initial thoughts about what schools/education should look like and focus on leading up to and beyond 2030. Think of content and skills your children should have to live in a globally connected, uber-technological world. I know that is a challenge, to consider your own children some day, but give it a try! A second piece to consider is how do we educate the public so this becomes a major political issue - it will take political will to change how schools are run and what they look like, and that won't happen unless the electorate has a clue about any of this and why it is imperative that education changes to match the times.

Check out my personal favorite TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson, on creativity and schools. Feel free to check out another from him on changing education paradigms, if you are curious. These may help with your thinking. If anyone is interested, some years ago I posted about a high school model I would like to try some day.

When done, something I would like you to be aware of is the situation in Yemen. Check out this post, and feel free to email your congressional representative (Jan Schakowsky) and/or senators (Sens. Durbin and Duckworth), or feel free to sign a petition my son created that will go to the senators.

For actual physics, we will be starting Momentum and Impulse. Check out and take notes on a short video about why momentum is conserved in collisions. On page 3 of the new packet, try
                                          Ch. 8, Questions 6, 19; and Problems #5, 9.

Period 6:
If you have not yet shared with me the satellite proposal, use this period wisely and get it done. Deductions of 10% each day late have begun. Don't forget that all you need to do is just follow along the assignment sheet - it is laid out part by part, and the rubric specifies what you should have. We're just looking for a summary of what you find, 1-2 pages.

For those who are done or finish, you have a chance at some bonus points by doing one or two article summaries. It is on any science related article, and feel free to use the Scientific American magazines on the back tables.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A need for soccer balls, other sports equipment in Kenya

We have much to be thankful for in Evanston, and the United States in general. One thing we take for granted is an almost unlimited supply and exposure to sporting goods of every possible type. But unfortunately this is not the case everywhere.

A world-class teacher and friend, and Top 10 Finalist in the 2015 Global Teacher Prize, Jacque Jumba-Kehura, has a school in rural Kenya. The students at Makonjemare Primary School love sports, but literally have to improvise and make their own from any materials they can find - there is no sporting goods store of any kind within hundreds of miles, and the school has no funding to purchase pricey equipment.

Unfortunately, shipping costs, even for small boxes, is on order of $1200, so instead of sending actual sporting goods we would like to wire some money to Jacque so they may order some equipment. We are hoping for dollar donations that can be used for these kids to have something other than improvised soccer balls for their activities. Notice many of the children are barefoot going to school. If interested in helping out, please give any donation to your teacher and we will wire 100% to help our friends in Kenya! Note that $100 US is a little more than 10,000 Kenyan shillings, so dollars are worth a lot right now.

Thanks for considering!  😊

Monday, November 20, 2017

Consider taking action: Let Congress know about Starvation in Yemen

Hello, all, and I hope you are well heading into Thanksgiving. We have SO much to be thankful for in our lives, but after watching one of the stories on '60 Minutes' this past Sunday, it was reinforced how horrible some in this world have it.
Please consider contacting your congressional representatives and senators about the situation in Yemen. Due to a Saudi Arabian blockade, millions of meals are not making it to innocent civilians, including children who are dying at a rate of 1 every 10 minutes, due to starvation. Let's see if anyone in Congress will even bring this to the attention of the appropriate committee or the State Dept. You can find email contacts for Congress at!/.
If it helps, a possible message to your representatives is:
"It has come to my attention that millions of innocent citizens of Yemen, including hundreds of thousands of children, are at risk of starving to death. The reason for this humanitarian crisis is primarily due to a blockade of Yemen's ports by Saudi Arabia. Millions of meals are on ships, waiting to be unloaded and distributed by the United Nations and other NGOs. This action by the Saudis, one of our supposed allies in the Middle East, goes against international standards for war and is simply inhuman.
While the civil war in Yemen is a complex issue, I am asking that you at least bring this to the attention of the appropriate committees as well as the State Department. There must be some leverage the United States has with the Saudis to encourage them to do the right thing, and allow food go to starving, innocent noncombatants, including children who are dying at a rate of one every ten minutes. Thank you for your consideration."

A second option is to sign this petition. Thanks for your consideration!!

Friday, November 17, 2017

A glimpse into education and '2030 issues' from the UK

There is a featured opinion piece from my Varkey Foundation brother, Vikas Pota (who is the CEO of the foundation), about three major converging issues in the United Kingdom: Brexit, the 'age of the machines' and automation, and a growing shortage of teachers at all levels.

This is timely, of course, because of our discussions in class about these issues over the next 10-15 years, that will continue to change, rapidly, the world's economies and ways of life.

As many brought up in our discussions, education is the foundation of dealing with present and future changes as technologies evolve. Without an educated public on these issues, my personal fear is that we will never elect any officials at any level of government who will be willing to bring these up and have as major planks in their platforms - politicians focus on issues the public is interested in if they want to be elected. So it starts, and ends, with a well educated electorate.

There is also a growing shortage of teachers in some parts of the U.S. This, combined with a large segment of the population who buy into 'fake news' and an anti-science/anti-intellectual/anti-expert perspective, will make progress difficult in the U.S. over the next couple election cycles.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

What can the public do NOW to have a sustainable future? Check out UN Sustainable Development Goals

For those wondering what we can do individually and collectively, despite any action or lack thereof of governments, to help both the country and the world have a sustainable future, the United Nations developed a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is a global movement for this to be taught, or at least to have exposure, in classrooms...if our youngest students are exposed to these ideas and actions, and it is part of their 'normal' experience and routine, then we have a chance for lots of people doing lots of things, and that adds up to create some level of change and success.

As far as how we can change how we do high school, and better prepare students for a fast-changing world, check out one model I have in mind. Keep in mind that things like creativity and innovation skills, along with content in various subject areas, including competency with a variety of technologies, are some of the most important things we should be developing in the next generation.

Check out the SDGs here! Are you doing anything for any of the goals? Are you interested in trying to do something for any of the goals?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Articles on Artificial Intelligence

After some good discussions about our global future, and the almost incomprehensible level and affect on human life that technology will have in the next 10 or 15 years, check out two articles on Artificial Intelligence (AI), courtesy of Gavi.

The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence

The AI Revolution: Our Immortality or Extinction

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What do you want your world to look like in 10 or 15 years?

Most of us are pretty bad planning for the future. It is difficult to prepare for next week, let alone for 10 or 15 years from now. But think about what the world might look like in 2030 and beyond...and what will schools and education look like by then? We're talking about the education your kids will be getting, and that will need to prepare them for a world that could be on one of the following pathways.

Which scenario do you want to be part of? Which scenario do you want your children to inherit? What do we need to be doing NOW to get to the world that you want in 2030 and beyond?

And, what should schools be doing to provide the education that will prepare you for one of these worlds? What should you be doing to make a good life for yourself and family in one of these worlds?

*Since some have asked, if I could change high school, check out one model I would love to build and run.

**Addendum: Nov. 29 article, 375 million jobs should be automated by 2030.


Government, corporations, and civil society have all worked closely together to manage the huge changes that have occurred over the past 15 years. 

Robotics and AI have become mainstream and operate within a broadly agreed regulatory framework. They support humans, and are becoming increasingly integrated into society. 

They are especially prevalent in the growing mega cities that are present in Africa and Asia, where they work night and day supporting public services and also aiding consumer life. 

The world is generally ageing, and communities of elderly people are coming together to live and share services in their latter years. 

Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, although new diseases are present and are testing the boundaries of current antibiotics.

Technology, a shortage of resources, and growing gaps between rich and poor have led to countries increasingly becoming antagonistic.
AI and automation is common and has caused significant disruption – lowering prices of goods and services, including food, but also dislocating millions as robots take over human jobs. 

Megacities support much economic growth but the sense of community is fading with the growth of robot populations. Many people live far away from their elderly families. 

Although overall wealth has risen, but is owned by the wealthiest 1% of the population. People around the world feel poorer than ever before. 

Megacities are hotbeds of new diseases. A serious contagion could wipe out millions in short time as companies stockpile antidotes for the wealthy.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Periods 3-4, 8-9:

There will be research club during periods 5 (H322) and 6 (S305), as usual.

Please try to reach consensus on the HW set from last night. Any volunteers to come up would be wonderful!

After that, check out a few minute video about the basics of how a nuclear reactor works. It is a nice combination of relativity, power production, and everyday application of energy transfer.

And then you have a chance to work, digest and process what we have been doing, and get additional practice with the remaining problems on the board.

Period 6:

Yesterday we saw the clip of Apollo 13 launching and going into orbit around the earth. That means it was moving in a large circular path around the earth. We are doing the same around the sun right now. Check out two relevant ideas for this. First, a good introduction to circular motion and what we call centripetal force. Click on the one called Centripetal force and acceleration intuition. The second is an introduction to a projectile, which can be as simple as a ball rolling off a table or you throwing a ball.

Take notes on these two videos, because we will be combining the ideas to understand how lots of things work!

Finally, there is a three and a half minute video about why astronauts appear to be 'weightless' when they are in orbit, like we saw yesterday. Check it out! It is NOT because there is no gravity, but rather the fact that something in orbit is actually falling!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Your thing...

Your thing….

One of my hopes/goals for each of you is to help you realize some freedom in school, and pursue a STEM related interest of choice – something that you will have fun with, and that you want to do simply because you are curious and because you think it will be fun to try. It can be big or small. It can be short-term or longer-term. It can be related to a hobby, or something brand new that you want to explore. This won’t have the pressure of a grade, or any specific deadline.

I hope you will do something, anything, just because you want to!

It is, quite simply, your thing!

There are LOTS of possibilities:

-          Research: mini-projects
-          Research: long-term projects
-          CABS resources (develop online teaching resources for various research options)
-          Work on resources for Australian elementary students (anything related to science or music)
-          Write songs/raps, poems, short stories, animated children’s stories (one example of a story for atomic structure is at; may partner with other schools to develop an online depository of STEM resources for elementary classes (Effingham (IL)-Pennsylvania-Australia-ETHS partnership)
-          Interpretive dance of some topic
-          Be pen-pal or Skype-pal with other students around the world (Doc V has many connections for this)
-          Engineering challenges – such as develop a tower garden for under $100 so low income families could use them; 3-D printed prosthetics; solar powered anything; cheap solutions for filtering water for 3rd world communities
-          Help develop collaborative labs or projects that can be done with students from other schools, other countries
-          Trying to publish research results in journals
-          Build a web site or blog for a topic/issue of interest
-          Rube-Goldberg machines
-          Independent study courses
-          Photo Contest, or develop a site of science-related photos/videos
-          Bridge building
-          Develop ‘How to’ videos for certain problems or topics for other students
-          Video production that can be used in classes; another possibility is to provide video analyses and possibly write up lab procedures for future classes to use; think videos of “The Science of ______” for a favorite hobby or activity or phenomenon
-          Write a white paper on an issue of interest
-          Make your own TED-style talks
-          Learn a programming language
-          Robotics (there are all sorts of kits if you want to try something)
-          Write own programs for simulations, video game
-          Build more complex circuits/devices; take electronics not working and learn about them
-          Lobby your local politicians about science or education related issues
-          Community service – local clean-ups, peer mentoring, peer tutoring, volunteer at your old elementary or middle school  if they do science fairs or need demos
-          Possibilities for online tutoring/mentoring
-          Arrange to tour labs of interest at local univeraities
-          Take a tour of Argonne National Lab or Fermilab (both are only one hour from Evanston)
-          Interview professors/researchers/scientists or engineers in industry/doctors/technicians; could be on video to post and share with others
-          Ask if you can shadow a grad student or professional in STEM for a day
-          Write layperson explanations of technical STEM topics
-          Join Math Team, Science Olympiad, Chess Team
-          Do mathematical derivations of things not covered in classes. One example is at
-          Build something of interest
-          Develop new science demos, labs, posters, teaching resources for future classes
-          Write letters to the editor of local papers, magazines, journals
-          Take virtual tours of the world’s great science museums and summarize, make recommendations for others
-          Math modeling
-          TEAMS (limited, invited)
-          WYSE (limited, invited)
-          Physics Bowl practice/prep

Or anything else not listed here you can think of and want to try!!!! Don’t limit yourself or your interests!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Classes for today

Periods 3-4, 8-9:

If any brave souls can volunteer and put up their solutions for the E-fields on the NON-uniform density problems from last night, let's see if we can reach consensus. Remember, these are worst-case Gauss scenarios.

Then there is the reality that not all things we use in electronics are spheres, long cylinders or large plates. There are rings, wires that really do have ends, and so on! You know where this is going....NON-Gauss situations. Check out videos on how we try to approach real objects such as the E-field for charged sticks we used in lab before, as well as finding the potential for a stick.

When done, please work together and try the problems on pages 2 and 3 of the NON-Gauss packet that will be passed out. On the stick problem, page 3, also try to find the potential at the same point shown, in addition to the E-field.

Period 6:

Let's pull out your Chromebooks, and check out a Khan video on the types of problems we are starting to try and solve, those with acceleration. Anything we do with constant acceleration will use the three formulas on the sheet we got yesterday. For any type of problem like this, it is a good idea to list out the information we are given in a problem, such as distance traveled, initial speed, final speed, the time traveled, and the acceleration value. Some of these will be known, and one or two not known in any given problem - but we have the three sets of relationships that will help us out, so we can find any of the unknowns.

So watch a video on how we can do this to try and figure out the acceleration of a plane launching off an aircraft carrier. Take notes on it. This will be a guide for doing the couple problems on the third page of our packet from yesterday. After watching the video, try the problems with one or two classmates, and have them ready for Wednesday. These will be typical, everyday sorts of situations that we can use the three equations over and over and over again, to predict what will happen when acceleration is involved.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Nobel Prize in Chemistry Announced this morning!

The Nobel Prize for chemistry was given to three scientists this morning, for their work and creation of cryo-electron microscopy. They are an American, Joachim Frank; a Swiss, Jacques Dubochet; and a Brit, Richard Henderson. Their work and revolutionary imaging has helped make high-resolution images of biomolecules in action.These images are also 3-D, moving away from old 2-D imaging techniques. Researchers can freeze molecules in mid-movement, providing snapshots of complex processes so they can be understood with entirely new levels of precision. This should help in drug treatment development, studying aging, addictions, cancer development, and so on. Very cool, literally and figuratively! :-)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Are we going to be able to see black holes? Perhaps soon!

While black holes cannot be directly seen, since light cannot be emitted through the event horizon of the black hole, it may be possible to see the so-called accretion disk, a hot, rotating region of hot gas and plasma that is trapped by the gravity of a black hole, and which could come from the immediate environment as well as a companion binary star near the black hole. There is some new telescope technology that should be able to see accretion disks, and this new experiment is called the Event Horizon Telescope. This tool, along with the rapidly growing field of gravitational wave detectors like LIGO and others that are being built, could be opening the door to a new branch of astronomy that complements astronomy with electromagnetic radiation.

Nobel Prize in Physics - LIGO and Gravitational Waves!!

Congratulations to three Americans who won the Nobel Prize in Physics, 2017, for their pioneering work in testing and confirming Einstein's general relativity prediction of gravitational radiation! The Nobel committee recognized Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss, and Barry Barish for their efforts in creating the LIGO experiment. BTW, a key senior scientist on this experiment is NU professor Vicky Kalogera.

2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine & Physiology

Congratulations to three Americans, who were recognized by the Nobel committee for their work in understanding our biological clock, and what makes our circadian rhythms so vital to our lives! They are Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael Young.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Understanding Matter and Forces: Standard Model

The Standard Model is the name of the theory we use to help us understand what makes up the universe (i.e. particles of matter) and how matter interacts (fundamental forces of nature). It breaks down the hundreds of particles in nature down to 6 quarks, 6 leptons, and a few force carrying bosons, along with the Higgs boson that provides mass to particles in the first place. Check out a summary video!

Big Bang - Start of our Universe

What is the Big Bang theory for the creation of the universe? In principle it is as easy as saying there was a large explosion of unimaginably hot energy, which 'cooled' to form the fundamental particles and forces that we see in the universe today. This happened about 13.7 billion years ago, according to present-day best measurements and calculations.

As with any scientific theory, no one should put any belief into it until there are predictions made from the theory that are then tested experimentally and through physical observations. Over the past 100 years, the theories of Einstein and the eventual Big Bang models have gone through this slow process, and confirmation of the key ideas have occurred, making this the best understanding we have for the universe's creation.

Check out this video that explains the gist of the Big Bang theory, and a couple reasons why scientists believe it is a valid theory. Check here for a quick example of the Doppler effect.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Projectile Review

As we get back into motion, projectiles are a classic case of 2-D motion from sophomore year. Let's bring it back! Check out one video that focuses on the basic properties and concepts of projectiles, a video with a couple examples of how to set up these problems (and they are all pretty much the same!), and if interested, one that goes into the reason why projectiles move on a parabolic path, as well as the effect of air friction on that parabola.

Check these out as needed as you bring back the problem solving skills with the homework set of problems.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fact or Fake?!?! Try to tell which articles are which!

If you are alive an breathing, you should know there is a battle going on, especially in the political world, over factual or fictitious news, reality versus alternative facts. Check out a site, Factitious, that provides real articles, but some of which are from legitimate, reputable news organizations (meaning stories are verified, vetted by journalists), and others are from well-known tabloids (usually made-up or embellished stories). You may be surprised by many of these! I was duped on several!  :-(

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Let's make the ETHS 2017-18 school year your best one yet!! 

Why include UN Sustainable Development Goals in classes? How can we not?!

The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, include 17 aspects of global life that can be and NEED to be addressed in the next decade. These goals are related to everything from global education to climate change to ending hunger to gender equality to clean water and air. The motto is "17 Goals to Transform Our World."

Another reason to take action on these NOW, rather than later, is because the techniques/methods/knowledge that will be developed to achieve these goals by 2030 are necessary to have in place as the population continues to grow, where we expect to have an additional 2 billion people on the planet by around 2050.

Let's be aware of these, see which goals our studies are related to, and make even a small difference where we can! It is our world, so let's fix it and take care of it together@TeachSDGs 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Why are Astronauts "weightless" in the space station?

This is easily one of the biggest MISCONCEPTIONS there is in science!!! A good majority of people would guess because there is no gravity in space....NNNNNOOOOOOO!!!!!


So if there is a lot of gravity acting on the astronauts from the earth, how can they float???

It is actually because all satellites are constantly FREE FALLING towards the earth, because of gravity. And if you are on a scale in an elevator that is free falling, guess what the scale would read....0!! You would be 'apparently weightless' because everything falls with the same acceleration when gravity is involved. You would not be truly weightless, since there is still gravity acting on you.

Check out this really good video from the Veritasium channel.

How do Satellites Work? The very basics...

Satellites are cool and help make modern life possible, but they are also confusing to many people - how can these things stay in orbit for decades without crashing into the earth?

The key ideas come from projectile motion. Gravity creates acceleration downward, but we need to give a fast enough speed perpendicular to gravity so the satellite moves in a curve. If you play with that speed, what you'll find is that there is a special speed where, as it falls, it moves very far forward. The trick is to have the curve of the satellite match the curve of the earth - thankfully the earth is more or less round!! This special speed is called the orbital velocity.

Check out the video, and I hope it helps!

Understanding some Properties of Projectiles

Forget the math for a few minutes - focus on some of the important concepts and interesting properties of projectiles, at least under ideal conditions (i.e. no air friction!). This gets into the importance of independent horizontal and vertical motions that are really the key to understanding projectile motion, and multi-dimensional motion in general. To understand why parabolic paths form, check out this video. To check out some basic math for projectile problems, check out this video.

Check it out, and hopefully this will make some sense to help you understand what the math is telling us when we do problems.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Projectile trajectories - With and Without Air Friction

All of us are familiar with the arch-shaped path, or trajectory, a ball follows when we throw it. When symmetric, this is a parabola, and is the common shape we use in physics classes for projectiles. But WHY is it an arch of any kind, let alone a parabola? And why are we lying to you about projectiles???

We ignore air friction when we do projectile problems, but in life this makes it more complicated, and also no longer a perfect parabola. Check out this video to get a sense of why parabolas form when there is no air friction, and what the trajectory looks like in a more realistic environment, with air friction.

How to do Relative Motion problems: Getting across a moving river

Relative motion has to do with multiple objects moving with respect to one another, and trying to think about how it all looks depending on what point of view different observers have when watching the objects.

A classic example of this is trying to get a boat across a flowing river, without being pushed off-course or downstream. How is this done? This is the same problem as trying to fly a plane when the wind hits it from the side, or a bird trying to fly on a windy day. What do you have to do to the boat, airplane or bird in order to not be pushed off-source?!

Check out this video to see how to use basic vector rules with the velocity vectors involved in the problem!

How to do Projectile Motion problems

Projectiles are objects that fly through the air or space, under the influence of gravity (and ignoring air friction for now), but not using any of its own energy to do so. It has been 'projected' by something else to start moving, like kicking or throwing a ball, shooting an arrow, a satellite, or even when you run and jump - you're a projectile once in the air!

Projectiles follow an arch, which is technically a parabola when there is no air resistance.

The key to understanding this motion is to realize there are two motions simultaneously: constant horizontal velocity, and constant vertical acceleration due to gravity. And when two things are perpendicular to each other, they are also independent of each other. Sideways motion could care less about what happens vertically, and vice versa!

Check out this video, which goes through two related projectile problems, and how to set them up.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Chem/Phys Reunion in September!!

We will have a Chem/Phys reunion on September 23, at ETHS. We are trying to get as many alums from as many decades as possible, and current students will be a part of this as tours of the classrooms and schools will be coming through. It can be a wonderful chance to meet people who were in your same seats years ago, and also start networking prior to going to never know when there might be a summer internship or connection at a school you are looking at, etc. Save the date! And if a parent or sibling is an alum, pass this along! Check out

Friday, July 14, 2017

Studies Suggest We Should Expect More Lightning With Warmer Climates

For the past five or so years, one thing we've discussed in 4 Chem/Phys E&M is lightning. It is a naturally curious phenomenon for human beings, and simply really cool from the science perspective! But one aspect of this that most never think about is how lightning is related to climate change and a warming atmosphere. In the video we watch on lightning, it was surmised that the sheer number of lightning strikes should increase with warming - makes sense at first thought since moisture drives cloud and lightning production, and a warmer atmosphere should mean more moisture in the atmosphere. A relatively new study shows evidence for this prediction. If anyone is interested in this sort of thing, there could be some research possibilities! See me.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Malawi Fundraiser - GoFundMe for wells for crop irrigation

Thank you to the students who put together this GoFundMe campaign for our Malawi brothers and sisters! We have helped them get land, seed and fertilizer so schools can grow their own crops, but now, for long-term self subsistence, they need funds to drill wells and irrigate those crops when the next drought happens.

Check out Even small donations matter A LOT, since $1 is some 730 kwacha!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Shameless Plug for UIUC Engineering

Just because I went reality, some say the College of Engineering is tops in the world. It certainly is among the most elite, with 16 top-5 programs!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Northwestern's work on Climate Change - A lot going on!!

If you have any interest in climate change and want to get a sense of the research efforts going into this important topic, or if you are interested in checking out research labs involved in these studies, you really need to read this extensive site outlining Northwestern's involvement in climate science! Let Doc V know if you want to learn more about any piece of this work.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fractal planting patterns yield optimal crop yields

Some students have been intrigued by fractals. And the more we look around in Nature in all sorts of systems, we find fractal patterns develop. It appears that this is also true for crop yields and production. An interesting article about some patterns that have developed, without planning, indicate that optimal yields are nearly reached when fractal patterns are used. This could lead to some interesting research options!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Video analysis and the mass of the moon

We will investigate physics through the use of video analysis. The reasons for doing this includes a primary one of using Logger Pro software, which the school has from the Vernier electronic sensors, to do a video analysis. I want you to realize you can take any YouTube video, or any video (or digital photo) you take with your phone, and analyze any type of motion in any event you capture! This is a powerful tool that we all have access to in this day and age, and allows us to do so many more analyses. And with high-speed video options that more phones are providing, such as 120 frames per second (fps), 240 fps, and even 480 fps, or digital cameras that now provide 1000 fps or more, we can use video analysis software to look at finer details of motion than we ever could before in a high school lab. Keep in mind that a normal video is around 30 fps.

Watch this video for getting an introduction to using Logger Pro for video analysis.

One thing I recommend is to download a free piece of software called Tracker on a home computer (cannot do this with the Chromebooks, unfortunately), so you have the chance to check out details if you ever get the urge. This is an introductory video for using Tracker.

All you need is a few seconds of video to get into an analysis. For today we have as a goal to figure out the mass of the moon, perhaps using the original video footage of the first men on the moon in 1969! All you need is a bit of projectile motion to figure out the acceleration due to gravity, and the fact that the radius of the moon is 1079 miles. Work with a partner, and keep in mind you need to Google some conversions and get the mass of the moon in kilograms based on data from the video.You can use any moon landing video you want, including the moon buggy, dropping a hammer and falcon feather, or any other that involves some gravitational action you can use to figure this out. Also come up with a percent error compared to an accepted value of the moon mass.

Note that to import a video clip into Logger Pro or Tracker, you need to have the video file. To get this from your phone, of course you would need to just upload the video to your computer and then import into the software. For a YouTube video, you can make a screencast video file of the YouTube video, and save it to your computer. A quick, easy way to do this is to use Screencast-o-matic. Just select the brief scene you need to do the analysis, and capture it with the screencast! Here's a how to video for making a Screencast-o-matic video, which I suggest saving to your desktop or to your student My Documents folder. You will be able to Insert this video file into Logger Pro.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Video on the human eye

One video on the details of our eyes is here, or click on the embedded video below. An alternative is here.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Funding site for the Kranti School in India

We were so fortunate for many students to meet Robin Chaurasiya, who stopped by ETHS while in Chicago. Her work in Mumbai, India, at the Kranti School, has gained her international attention, including a Top 10 Finalist rating in the 2016 Global Teacher Prize! She works with girls who have either been in or whose mothers were in the sex trade.

What needs to be known is Robin's school is a NGO (Non-Government Organization), and every penny to run the school and pay for some of the girls to study abroad and go to college has to be raised - there is no tax money or fixed revenue for such a school. If there is any interest in making any donation, whether small or large, one can check it out at this site. Through this site, 100% of the donations go to Kranti!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

EM Work

For review, let's go into the AP Multiple Choice folder on your chromebook, and try the 2015 test (if this link does not work, go to the AP Exams folder and then into the Mult Choice folder). Remember you need to be logged into your account to access these folders. You'll need to scroll down in that file to get to the questions, and the answer key is towards the end of the file.

It is up to you if you want to start by yourself and then work with others on anything you missed, or if you want to talk through things with one or two others. If individually, also keep a sense of pace by timing yourself for some number of questions.

*The important thing is to find things that you have forgotten or have had some trouble with in the past. Turn in your answer sheet and score. Whatever time you have left, you can work on the review set from the other day. Come with questions Thursday!  😊

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Visitor on Tuesday, April 25: Robin Chaurasiya

Check out a brief bio of Robin Chaurasiya, who will be in town and visiting ETHS on Tuesday, April 25, in room H322. Come by during lunch periods to meet her and hear some thoughts about what she does in India with her students. There is also a good video showing what the girls do in terms of performance at the Kranti School.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

PhET simulation for EM induction

We will be trying the generator and transformer simulations for class. Check it out! The link is

Monday, April 10, 2017

Inductor Circuits!

We are moving into the final topic of high school physics: Inductors!

Check out a few videos if you need to review or double-check anything:

- series RL circuit
- Parallel RL circuit 
- LC circuit 

- Maxwell's displacement current, about how capacitors work and the final piece to Maxwell's equations
- Maxwell's equations (Mechanical Universe episode; good graphics of EM waves)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

EM Induction Links

For Tuesday:

Check out the case emf = B dA/dt, where the circuit moves and the area changes. This is an example of a magnetic brake, where the loop will start to slow down due to the weird induction phenomena.

Then, a special example of this type of induction, where the circuit falls through a magnetic field (in other words, when there is a constant force trying to accelerate the circuit/loop. This is going to end up looking a lot like air friction on a skydiver, with a terminal velocity!

By the way, check this one out if you want to see a strange case of finding the magnetic flux through a circuit due to the magnetism from a long, straight wire next to the circuit.

On Wednesday, which you have off, check out a preview of the other case, where emf = A dB/dt. This is going to involve a circulating electric field! Weird, but welcome to the world of electromagnetism. Here is a video specifically on the circulating E-field that is created when there is dB/dt.    :-)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Links for the week

I hope the rest of the week is great for everyone!

For periods 1-2, 8-9:

Check out and take notes on a video about the parallel-axis theorem. This is a nice way of getting moments of inertia in certain instances.
Also, let's try to figure out rolling without slipping, and finding things like the friction and accelerations associated with rolling objects.

Today, let's try two other cases. The first is rolling without slipping, but then going up a frictionless incline. Then, the dreaded rolling WITH slipping!

Can watch the video "Runaway Universe," on DVD. Check out the methods used to figure out what the universe is doing. Have a good weekend!

Check out an introduction to angular momentum. We will pick up with this Tuesday.

For Period 3:
Here is a bit of a break from electricity. Let's watch the video "Runaway Universe," on DVD. Check out the methods used to figure out what the universe is doing; write down some techniques you see in the video.

Back to electricity. Today let's get an introduction into some basics of an electric circuit. Check out a Khan video about a circuit and Ohm's law. Then, check out some basics of materials we find in a circuit, with resistivity and conductivity.

There's an interesting documentary on electricity - check it out and take notes on different applications of electricity, and the main concept behind the applications. Have a good weekend!