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In this issue:

Fall meeting summary
- Election of officers
Spring meeting
Science Day at Kings Dominion
Physics Olympics at Kings Dominion
Science Day at Busch Gardens
Opportunities for Educational Growth

Kite Physics
Simple Harmonic Motion and the "Pit and the Pendulum"
Battery Powered Gyroscope from Junk
"Seeing the Light" -electrostatics demo
Non-Newtonian Fluids Update
Late Notes

Fall Meeting Summary

Minutes,Virginia Instructors of Physics Meeting, Fall meeting
University of Virginia Department of Physics, October 3, 1992, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
The meeting was called to order by Tony Wayne who conducted the election of officers. Those elected were:
President: Tony Wayne (Albemarle High School, Charlottesville)
Vice President: Brion Patterson (Rappahannock High School, Sperryville)
Secretary: Frank Anderson (Woodbury Forest School, Woodbury Forest)
Treasurer: Shawn Button
Topics discussed during the business meeting:
Newsletters will be mailed to all members during January, May and August. All members are encouraged to make contributions to the editor, Tony Wayne.
Affiliation with AAPT is desired and will be pursued by the officers. It is also desired to have a working relationship with the Chesapeake Section of AAPT.
The Spring meeting of VIP will be in March and possibly in Richmond. Weekend meetings are preferred to weekday meetings.
VAST has agree to provide space for VIP at its next meeting. Brion Patterson has agreed to be responsible for organizing the distribution of pamphlets and information about VIP and AAPT.

Dr. Larson, Physics Department at UVa, expressed the Department's strong desire to provide services for the physics teachers of Virginia. This includes offering academic services as well as having someone available to answer specific questions relating to physics, equipment, demos, current developments, etc. This might be accomplished by e-mail on VA-PEN (Public Education Network). How can we best take advantage of this resource?
Dr. Richard Lindgren discussed funding for the Physics Summer Institute for 1993. Last summer 16 teachers attended five weeks in Charlottesville, earned 3 graduate credits in both education and physics. These teachers were also provided housing and a $1200 stipend. The 1993 session will only be four weeks and is tentatively scheduled for July. Expect a flyer from UVa in early Spring.
Possible menu options suggested for the new VA-PEN software: Science.Physics, Software Archives, Manufacturer's Contact, Cutting Edge (What's new in physics research?), Ask the Prof, VIP, NEWTON, Demonstrations, Test Bank, Physics.List.
There was a a discussion of Physics Days at both Bush Gardens and Kings Dominion. It was pointed out that it is difficult to get students to attend on Saturday days due to other commitments in the Spring.
Radon testing was discussed by Brion Patterson.
Tony Wayne presented the mechanics and philosophy of Science Week at Albemarle High School and a $1.00 battery operated, hand held gyroscope.
Jackie Hardy did two demonstrations on resonance and electrostatics.
Dr. Tim Sigmond gave an extensive presentation of the VA-PEN system and how it can be used effectively by teachers. The system is free to educators. Contact your local computer coordinator or Doug Wells (Va. Dept. of Ed.) at 804-979-6347.
The membership of VIP is most grateful to Dr. Bascom Deaver and UVa for being a most gracious host and providing other services to VIP.
There were over 50 pages of printed material provided for the participants and three disks of software/shareware.
Frank Anderson, 10/4/92
Secretary, VIP

Saturday, March 6th, 1993
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia
10:00 - 3:30
10:00 - 10:15 Hello's
10:15 - 11:00 VIP Business
VCU presentation
VaPEN Physics Pavilion update
Physics Olympics at Paramount's Kings Dominion Discussion
Future directions of VIP (goals)
11:00 - 11:30 Hand out freebies, demonstrations and lesson plans to share
Kings Dominion Physics/Science Labs - free
Busch Gardens Science Day Labs - free
Door Prizes -worth the trip
Handouts that other people bring to the meeting
Free Macintosh public domain software (bring 1 formatted - 800k disks)
-more fractal applications, paint program.
11:30 - 1:00 Lunch (You are on your own).
1:00 - 2:00 Workshop "Teaching Physics with Toys" by Judy Ng
2:00 - 3:00 Workshop "Prisms" physics teaching approach by Frank Anderson


Bring your favorite physics lesson. Bring 50+ copies to handout.
Bring your favorite demonstration. Bring 50+ copies of a write up.
When you bring your Macintosh disks put some public domain/shareware software on
them if you have any. We are looking to start an archive on the Public Education Network.

The following are the instruction for coming to the department of physics or to the students union building.
Near Virginia Commonwealth University I-95 and I-64 run together.

When coming from the east or south of Richmond:

You will be traveling on I-95 N / I-64 W.
Take exit 76A (VCU Academic Campus/Chamberlayne Avenue).
Stay in left lane. At the traffic light turn into Leigh Street. In a short distance, turn left into Belvidere Street. From here onwards, follow instructions starting at below.

When coming from the north or west of Richmond :

You will be traveling on I-95 S / I-64 E. Take the exit for VCU academic campus (76B/old exit 13/Belvidere Street).
At the stop sign as you come out of exit, make a LEFT turn (West Leigh street). At the traffic signal turn RIGHT into BELVIDERE street. Please make sure that you do not turn into Munford street here. It is a small street very close to the traffic signal.

You will pass Marshall, Broad, Grace, Franklin streets. At the MAIN street (this is a one way street) turn right. You will see a small park on the right. After a hundred yards or so you will see a paid parking deck on your left. Then you will pass the Students Commons Building on the right hand side.
There is street side parking available on MAIN street and nearby streets. Please watch out for posted time restrictions and one way street signs.
After the students union building you will go below an overpass. The entrance to the Physics Department is just below the overpass on your right. Immediately after that you can make a left turn into Harrison street. After you go a block on Harrison you will see a large HONOR park area on your right.


by Brion Patterson
Make plans to bring your class on a field-trip to King's Dominion during April 3, 1993 for the Sixth Annual Science Day at King's Dominion. One of the great things about this occasion is that King's Dominion puts on several distinct special presentations, each directed to a specific audience: general science, life and biological sciences, and physics and physical science.
A special treat for students is the Field Day Competition produced by a team of teachers. The Field Day program is both enjoyable and educational. It is also fairly informal, so be sure to join us for the fun. Some of the surprising performances in recent years have been turned in by middle school students ! Most Field Day events take place at our Pavilion, but this year two events are conducted by students as they move on their own through the Park. Let your students refer to the following list of approximate start times so they can keep riding the rides all day except for when their particular event is happening:

1. Paper Tower 11:30 (tallest tower made from one piece of paper)

2. Aluminum Foil Barge 12:00 (how many pennies can you float?)

3. Center of Mass 12:00 (greatest overhang" of several wooden blocks)

Old Fashion Lunch at Pavilion 12:45-1:45

4. Fermi Questions 2:00 (estimate answers to astonishing questions!)

5. Ruling Paramount's King's Dominion-turn in results 2:00 (how fast, how tall, how many "g" forces?)

6. Scavenger Hunt-deadline to turn in results 2:00 (can you really find all these items in the Park?)

7. Soda Straw Lever 2:30 (longest lever arm from only straws and pins)

8. Table-Top Cannon 3:00 (hit the target!)

Awarding of Ribbons and Trophies 4:00

by Susan Roberts, Physics Fair Coordinator sp/jec
Busch Gardens is pleased to present the Physics Fair on May 13, 14, 20, 21, 1993. Dr. Wright, of Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, developed the Physics Fair program which is designed as a self-guided exploration of the principles of physics using Busch Gardens as a life-size laboratory. Students will measure the centripetal acceleration of the double-looping "Loch Ness Monster" roller coaster, calculate the velocity of the suspended "Big Bad Wolf" roller coaster, and the terrifying new "Drachen Fire". In fact, students will learn how the laws of gravity and changes in acceleration are responsible for the thrills they experience on nearly all of Busch Gardens' rides!
To reserve your tickets( $18.95 for advance booking) and to order your workbooks in advance, please fill out the attached order form and return it with payment in full to Busch Gardens, Physics Fair, One Busch Gardens Blvd., Williamsburg, VA 23187-8785.
Note: Workbooks must be ordered in advance as they are not available at the front gate. For further information contact Susan Picker at Busch Gardens.


Teaching Science with TOYS

Miami University, Oxford, OH
July 12 - 30, 1993
The TOYS program offers teachers the opportunity to increase their knowledge of physics and chemistry principles and experience hands-on activities for teaching these principles using toys. The program is open to K-12 teachers. Teachers completing the program receive 3 graduate credits in physics and three and chemistry. (Yes, it is a very intense three weeks, but you do get weekends off.) The only cost to the participants is transportation to campus. Dorm rooms and most meals are provided. Teachers receive a stipend and many toys to take back to their classrooms. Selection preference will be given to teams of teachers from the same district: one K-5 teacher and one 6-12 teacher. For further information and application forms, write to Beverley A. P. Taylor, Miami University-Hamilton Campus, Hamilton, OH 45011. Beverley Taylor's internet address is

Program in Physical Science for Precollege Teachers
June 21-July 29, 1992, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The Physics Department at the University of Washington will offer a six-week, 10 credit summer program in physical science for inservice teachers focusing this summer on teachers of grades 4-9. Supported in part by the National Science Foundation and directed by Dr. Lillian C. McDermott, Professor of Physics, the course is tuition free and stipends are offered to help defray the cost of attending. The course
is designed to:
strengthen subject matter background in topics typically covered in physical science curricula using a
hands-on, inquiry-oriented method of instruction;
emphasize the development of fundamental concepts and reasoning skills through laboratory experience;
meet the needs of teachers with varying levels of preparation in science and mathematics.
For more information or an application, telephone Joan Valles at (206) 685-2046 or write c/o Physics FM-15, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. 98195. Application deadline is March 1, 1993.

Thomas O'Neill
Buffalo Gap High School
Swoope, Virginia
A number of years ago, several snow storms in late January removed almost all of the vacation days from the school calendar. Spring vacation was reduced to one day. By the end of March my students were exhibiting the educational equivalent of "cabin fever". I decided to introduce a break in the Physics I course by taking a week to construct and fly kites. It was NOT my intention to make this a permanent part of the course, but the demand from my upcoming students has necessitated just that.
The theoretical background for the course is taken from my undergraduate texts (Chapters 17 & 18 of Physics by Halliday and Resnick, Chapter 13 of General Physics by Sternheim and Kane with some material from Chapter 40, Volume II of The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard Feynman. A brief outline follows:

Archimedes Principle and buoyancy
Demonstration: Pb mass in floating test tube in graduated cylinder
Definitions of streamline and flow terms
Development of Bernoulli's Equation
K = Pa + rgh + 0.5 rv2 where r is the density of the air flow, Pa is the ambient pressure, g is the acceleration constant, h is the height of the airfoil, and v is the velocity of the flow at the airfoil tip.
Demonstration: Venturi tube; Plastic spoon in outflow from faucet (take a plastic spoon, with the bowl up, and insert in a good flow of water at about a 60 angle. The spoon will be suspended by the flow over the bowl (4.24, The Flying Circus of Physics by Jearl Walker)); Soda straw fountain (take a long straw and insert into some water in a graduated cylinder. Blow across the straw and the water will be sucked up the tube and sprayed everywhere!(4.25 of Jearl Walker). The dependency of air resistance on a square term can be demonstrated by dropping coffee filters in the manner of Dr. Minnix - a filter dropped from 1 m will reach the ground at the same time as 2 filters dropped from 1.414 m.
Magnus effect, drag, and curve balls
Demonstration: whiffle balls, beach ball in fan flow.
History of kite building
Construction techniques

The problem with the theoretical development of kite physics is that a kite is usually flying in a stall. The stall condition is not amenable to a simple theoretical explanation. My students and I have tried to perform experiments such lift vs. attack angle but have been foiled by changing wind velocities and the large wind shadow of our school. In conjunction with the engineering class at Buffalo Gap High School, we are currently constructing a wind tunnel to explore kite design.
With regard to the actual construction, we limit ourselves to plastic trash bags (especially the large lawn and leaf bags), duct tape (the cheapest available), and 3 foot dowel rods ( 1/8",1/4", 3/8" purchased in bundles of 100 from technical education department). The plastic bags and kite string are supplied by the students; I supply the duct tape. Scissors and masking tape are school supplies.
The best book for student construction is the Penguin Book of Kites by David Pelham. All models are scale drawings in considerable detail. Each kite is rated for wind performance. I strongly recommend that only kites rated gentle to moderate winds be constructed (unless you live at the beach) We have had success with any number of kites but the classic diamond (traditional), double Conyne, French rescue, and compound bat kites have been winners. The current galactic record belongs to the "Spanish Fly", a double Conyne kite, which was built by a team which included an exchange student from Spain. The students launched the kite during the Physics period on a day with approximately 25 mph winds. Once aloft, the blowout panels functioned perfectly. The kite took the better part of 45 minutes to retrieve.
The kites are constructed by lab partners over 2-3 days from plans which I supply. The kites are flown on the football field and baseball field adjacent to the school (Beware of light stanchions!). The laboratory is graded on a pass/fail basis. To pass the kite must fly at least 5 meters off the ground for a specified period. This has led to some weird efforts on the part of poorly constructed kites. One team ran around the track in relays, in order to get their "lead balloon" to fly. Last year, a team went to considerable effort to construct a butterfly kite. The doweling required for the delicate curved sides was too thin to support the kite in a 15 mph wind. The result was a kite which flew for about 20 seconds before snapping in several pieces. They passed by tying their kite to a more robust kite. The entire system of good kite with a bad kite air anchor then broke its tether. The system continued flying for at least 5 miles until out of sight.
The most common mistake which students will make is over-construction, the tendency to make a kite which rigid and heavy. We have found that the quick way to fasten one dowel to another is to tie them together with fishing line or kite string and then run masking tape or duct tape over the string to seal it. Dowels are simply taped to trash bags with duct tape where possible. Bridle points are made by duct-taping a paper clip (to act as a grommet) to the garbage bag. The bridle is led through a hole in the paper clip, around a dowel, and back through the paper clip. Tails are constructed by tying together scrap pieces of garbage bag. (Suggestion: always make the tail too long as it is very easy to remove the excess in the field.) Our method of quickly constructing a triangular box kite cell (fundamental to most kites) is shown below:

Equipment needed: twelve 6" long 1/8 " diameter dowels, three 36"long 1/4" diameter dowels, two panels of garbage bag 6" x 21", duct tape. See the diagram on the next page.

How to build a kite plans

The Pit and the Pendulum and Simple Harmonic Motion

by Brion G. Patterson
Rappahannock Co. High School
Sperryville, VA 22740

The Pit and the Pendulum, by U.Va.'s Edgar Allan Poe, is not only a vivid and suspense filled short story, it is also a gripping physics situation. I recently borrowed the idea of using The Pit and the Pendulum from a project carried out at Mission High School in San Francisco. My students first investigated the effects of mass and length upon the period of a pendulum. For example, students first predicted the relationship between length and period. Then they determined the pendulum lengths necessary to obtain periods of 0.6, 1.0, 1.6, Z.0, and 2.3 seconds. Graphing their data, they found they had a parabola (confirmed by graphing the squares of the periods and obtaining a straight line). Thus they created their law: pendulum length is directly proportional to the square of the period, or L = c T2. The value of the constant c can be determined.

Then, as a class, we read aloud The Pit and the Pendulum (the activities of the Inquisition evoking memories of Galileo's trial. We read right up to the point at which the prisoner has smeared his bonds with meat to attract the rats--but I withheld the final page which revealed whether escape from the pendulum was achieved. At this point, the key data had already been provided: the pendulum is about 30 feet long, the descending pendulum blade is within 10 to 12 periods of reaching the prisoner, and the rats need 1 minute to cut through the bonds. Substituting values for length L and constant c into the equation, we determined that the fateful pendulum has a period of 7 seconds (note c = 9/4 pi squared) The ten oscillations available before our prisoner is cut will provide about 70 seconds: the rats have time! The prisoner will escape!

Gyro's from Junk

Tony Wayne
Albemarle High School
2775 Hydraulic Road
Charlottesville, VA 22901-8917
Wouldn't it be great to have a battery powered gyroscope when discussing rotational inertia? The parts for making one can be found in an broken radio with a cassette mechanism in it. A walkman, car radio, stereo or boom box with a cassette player will work. (Yard sales usually offer radios for about $5.00). Under the cavity where the cassette is inserted is a flywheel and dc motor. The flywheel will vary from mechanism to mechanism. Generally the flywheel is made of aluminum and ranges in size from that of a quarter to a silver dollar.
When the flywheel comes off the cassette mechanism, expect to pull its shaft out with it. There is a little lock washer -of sorts- on the opposite side from the flywheel that holds the flywheel's shaft in place. Once this is pried off with a small screwdriver, the shaft will slide out easily.

Lock Clips

Place the flywheel in a vice as shown. Close the vice as much as possible without clutching the shaft. Take a #6 nail and a hammer and punch out the shaft. There is usually a small brass fitting in the center of the flywheel. The quarter inch flywheel can pop out with the shaft if everything is not done carefully.

Removing the flywheel from the shaft

Pull off the small pulley wheel on the motor. The dc motor is usually attached with 3 screws and is easily found. Unscrew these screws to remove the motor. Place the flywheel on a flat, heavy, secure base. A cement floor works great. With the motor upside-down, hold the motor's shaft over the flywheel and lightly tap it in with a small hammer. Be careful, if the work surface bounces any the motor's shaft can be bent.
Also, if the motor's shaft is driven too hard into the flywheel, it will bend.

Getting the shaft out

Now just connect the motor via 2 long wires to a battery holder and a switch. Install the batteries, hold the motor and feel the inertia. Make several with disks of different rotational inertia and examine the times it take for a disk to reach its top speed.
Recently I found a hand held mini-fan at a dollar store. The fan motor's shaft was the perfect size for flywheel. It looks so professional.

Below is a picture of the insides to a "Walkman," actual size.

Picture of the insode of cassette w/motors

"Seeing the Light" Electrostatics Demos
by Tony Wayne

1. Electrical path with a flare of fluorescent
This demonstration was presented at the last VIP meeting by Jackie Hardy.

  1. Fluorescent light
  2. High output Tesla coil
  3. Alligator clip with attached wire
    Attach the alligator clip to the Tesla coil with the coil turned off. Skin off about a foot of insulation from the other end of the wire. Wrap this end of the wire TIGHTLY around the your bare angle. Turn on the Tesla coil. (If the wire isn't tight around your angle, the your will constantly get the urge to dance from an electrical pricking.) Grab a fluorescent bulb. Touch the other end to the plumbing and watch it glow. Slide your other hand along the bulb. Have a student grab the end of the bulb -no pain is involved. The bulb is glowing only between your hands or your hand and the student's hand. The Tesla coil is a source of high energy electrons. When you grab the light bulb it gets your high energy electrons. No light is present. When a student grabs the bulb the electrons have a path to travel. When the electrons move they generate a current. You need a current for the bulb to light.

2. Electrical path with novel neons
I recently saw a neat version of this in January, 1993, issue of The Physics Teacher . You need a difference in electrical energy for light to light up. Once this difference is established the electrons flow and viola.

  1. Neon bulb (Radio Shack stock number 272-1101 or 272-1102 -$0.69)
  2. A stretch of carpeting or a TV screen
    Give a student a neon bulb. Have the student slide their sock feet across the carpet. This will give them a source of high energy electrons. Turn off the lights. The room must be VERY dark. Wait a few seconds for the students eyes to adjust to the darkness. Have the student touch a door knob. The bulb will glow as electrons move through the bulb. These neon bulbs need a potential difference of at least 85 volts.

3. Electrical path in a flash

  1. 2 Alligator clips
  2. Stretch of carpet
  3. Flash bulb: Buy a flip flash unit (10 bulbs in one piece). Tear apart the unit and cut out the
    bulbs. Make sure you get as much lead off the bulb as you can.
    Attach the alligator clips to both leads -this is for safety. Keep the lights on. Give student the flash bulb. Now have the student slide their socked feet across the carpet. Touch a door knob with the other alligator clip. The bulb will flash. The bulb will melt where there is a blue dot. The alligator clips are used to keep the melting bulb away from the students hand. Flash bulbs like this are used for igniting thermalite inside of high powered rocket engines -not the A-D Estes engines.

Non-Newtonian Fluids Update
by Tony Wayne
Albemarle HS
2775 Hydraulic Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22901-8916
If you remember last may we features an article from Jackie Hardy's class about non-newtonian fluids. Below is a blurb about a use for non-newtonian fluids by a writer on internet.
A 4-wdr Subaru also makes use of a neat non-Newtonian fluid. The front (driven) wheels are connected to the rear set via a housing containing two plates and the fluid. As soon as the fluid is subjected to a differential rotation (the shear stress), the viscosity immediately increases tremendously, essentially locking the two sets of wheels. I find that one loses about 2 mpg due to normal motion within the fluid when in 2 wd.
Since last spring, I have stumbled across the two recipes for non-newtonian fluids -found elswhere in this newsletter. If you want a copy of the orginal article from last spring's newsletter send me a self-addresses-stamped envelope or contact me through e-mail.

Goofy Putty

Slime Recipe

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