## Standing waves on a spring

Posted: October 29, 2014 in Institute of Physics
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You might have seen/done this one before, but the teachers I was showing it to found it quite useful, so I thought I would post it on talkphysics. The nodes and anti-nodes are a lot clearer when the amplitude of the oscialltions is higher, but I was told the signal generator broke the previous vibrator when set too high, so I was a bit cautious with this one.

There are several teaching and learning points with this demo. For example, you could get the students to calculate the speed of the wave along the spring, as we know the frequency from the signal generator and can measure the wavelength (for example by measuring the length of the stretched spring with a ruler).

Once we know the speed of the wave, we could ask the students to predict the next frequency in which a standing wave will form.

What else would you use this demonstration for? What other questions would/could you ask?

## Mapping the Science Curriculum – Physics: Energy

Posted: April 9, 2013 in Mind Mapping
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This is my second mind map in an attempt to visually display the draft Science Curriculum in England and this time the focus of the Mind Map is Energy. In my previous post on this issue I set out to see how coherently the new curriculum has been written and I suggested that depending on how difficult it would be to mind map the various parts of the curriculum could give an indication of that. I have to say that in this second Mind Map I could find quite a few key ideas that interrelated to other branches quite nicely. However, I felt that I had to separate Conservation of Energy from Dissipation of Energy, even though the new curriculum has them under the same heading (which is fine in the document I think), as I wanted to stress the importance of the Principle of Conservation of Energy. Something I was not too sure about was the inclusion of renewable energy sources and fuel resources under the Conservation and Dissipation section. As a whole I am fairly pleased with this Mind Map and I think the development of this unit is quite coherent. I might have missed something though and I value your comments in that respect.

You can use the Mind Map below, or download the iMindMap version and edit it from this Biggerplate page.

I am finally finding literally 5 minutes to catch up with a few things I have been doing since the beginning of the term and I wanted to share with you how I am using kidblog.org to create collaborative feedback between different schools and cross-phase. Our Yr12 Blog is here.

I believe allowing our learners to Blog is a powerful learning strategies for a number of reasons. Firstly, our students get a real audience and are more likely to take their assignments seriously and be enthused by the thought of communicating their work to the world. That is why it is so important for them to see comments appearing on their posts, as they get the feeling that their efforts are appreciated by others! Also, comments are a powerful and simple means to peer assess each other’s work, as well as, obviously, for the teacher to leave some feedback too.

So, I introduced my Yr12 to our CroesyPhysics Blog and set a couple of assignments for them. The first is something I have been doing for the last couple of years and it is about the learners writing poems to describe the Photoelectric Effect, more about it on this previous Blog post. But the second was a collaboration between our Yr12 learners and a Yr6 class  at Highlawn Primary School. In these Blog posts our learners had to explain energy levels and photon absorption and emission to an audience of 10 year old pupils. You can read the Blog post to set the assignment here. Our Yr12 students could present this Physics topic in whatever form they wanted, but it was very clear to the majority of the Bloggers that they needed to find a way to get their message across in a simple and coherent way, and that they could not assume anything, not even that the Yr6 learners would know what an electron, or an atom is!

So, I gave them a link to the PowerPoint I would have normally shown them on the topic and told them to use that and their text books to gather the information they needed to support their creations. I was pretty confident they would not copy and paste, because if they had, they would have failed to be understood by the Yr6 learners, who are reading our Blog posts and leaving comments to feedback on our students’ presentation, clarity and accuracy. It must be said that the comments we have had so far are really thorough and very well written for learners of that age! Learners at Highlawn Primary certainly know what it means to reflect on learning.

I think we’ve had some really good Blog post so far and this excercise has been useful for our learners, but I would love to hear your opinions and if you can spare a couple of minutes, please read through some of our learners’ work and leave a comment for them here! They will be thrilled to see others value their work.

If you really want a free copy of the best mind mapping software ever created (iMindMap 5), you can take part to this simple competition. There are two ways in which you can participate and they both involve sharing.

Option 1

– Create a mind map with iMindMap 5 on any topic you like. You could also create a collaborative mind maps with your classes, family, or colleagues and describe your experience

– Post the link to your mind map as a comment at the bottom of this Blog post

Option 2

– Think of a creative and innovative way to use iMindMap 5 in Education

– Explain your fab idea as a comment to this Blog post

You can obviously contribute more than one mind map and/or ideas and priority will be given to the most active contributors, e.g. creating a mind map is obviously more demanding than writing a comment (or you could mind map your idea using iMindMap 5). You have time until the 7th July to submit your entries.

The rest of this Blog post is about some of the rules of mind mapping and why I love the idea of Biggerplate! Yes, you heard correctly, there are rules to mind mapping and you might be pleased to hear that I have not made them, but the creator of mind mapping himself, Tony Buzan!

“But I though mind mapping was a creative and free process that should reflect the way in which your brain works!” you might say and I would agree with you. In fact, that is precisely why there are rules to follow in order to achieve good and effective results in mind mapping. Our brain works in very efficient and creative ways which we don’t easily realize because we have been trained for years to use tools and strategies that are limiting the potential of our brains. Our mind thinks in a radial way, pretty much like a mind map does. From a central idea a series of associations and connections radiate to derive greater understanding of that idea and that often are used to solve problems related to that idea. This often leads to another important idea that also radiates into multiple associations and connections between ideas into a complex, but very coherent network of associations interrelated to each other which derive and construct meaning. Neuroscience has shown that both sides of our brain work together in any task we tackle and different areas of the two sides of our brains are activated constantly and intermittently as we think and process information. This complex process of information exchange and processing is mirrored very well by a mind map, and even better by multiple mind maps (which is now a feature of iMindMap 5 which I find really useful), you can find an example of this here. I guess what I am trying to say, is that what we need in order to improve the efficiency of our brains is not necessarily freedom to develop “our way to learn”, but to learn a way that is proven to mirror the way our brain works!

I often meet people who say they have tried mind mapping but that it is not for them, or others (and I used to be one of them) who think they are mind mapping, while they are actually still using linear note taking in a slightly more colourful way and linking whole sentences with other whole sentences, like this one I created a few years ago thinking I was helping my students learning about types of energy.

The problem with whole sentences is that they don’t really allow for associations and connections to be created, or they do so in a very limiting way. Take for example the concept of speed. If I am mind mapping about motion and use two words, say “constant speed”, in the same branch, I have limited that branch to develop into associations that are limited to the concept of constant speed. But if I had use the word speed in a branch and constant in a daughter branch, I can now make many more associations with the word speed, e.g. constant, increasing, decreasing, units –> m/s, formula –> Δd/Δt, etc… can all be daughters of the branch speed and lead to more associations and deeper meaning and retention of information. So, the types of energy “mind map” I created could turn into this (you can download it here).

I will let Tony Buzan explain the other rules and their importance in the video below and if you are convinced, please take part to this really exciting competition and share your mind maps on Biggerplate which is a fantastic community website for sharing mind maps and it now supports iMindMap 5! I love the idea of Biggerplate and one application I can see, especially now that iMindMap 5 Basic is free for all, is that a teacher can create a template with maybe just the main branches of a mind map on a particular topic and let their pupils download and complete the iMindMap as a learning activity. The learners can then upload their mind maps on their accounts and the teacher can leave feedback as comments and learners can also peer feedback on each other’s mind maps as an Assessment for Learning activity! In addition, parents are now able to interact with their children’s work in a more dynamic and engaging way. But the fun doesn’t end there! As a teacher you could let other teachers and classes use your templates and collaborate with other schools in your local area and, why not, worldwide!

So, iMindMap 5 is here and there has never been a better time to try it, as the Basic version is free, a word that teachers and skint schools are always very pleased to hear. And the Ultimate version, which is what you could win (if you take part to this simple competition), has some really amazing features, like 3D mind map view, which is a stunning way to navigate through your mind map, multimaps (fantastic for connecting multiple central ideas with each other), 3D presentation view which will blow your mind for the powerful visual effects that it creates, and many other great functions like the Smart Layout that spaces branches out for you and that is the most powerful and fastest way of drawing mind maps when combined with shortcut keys like TAB for new daughter branch and ENTER for sibling branch! Take a look at all the new features here and check this video out to see how iMindMap can transform the way you work and go about your day!

I first saw the demonstration in the video below done by Clare Thomson at the “Best of PhysEd” lecture at the ASE Conference in 2010. Ever since I tried to make various versions of it, from using two very tall gas columns, filming it with high frame rate cameras, etc. But today I think I have made a really interesting variation of this really nice demo. The video below was made this morning in my kitchen.

## Convection Talk Show!

Posted: December 3, 2010 in Institute of Physics, NGfL Cymru, Thoughts and ideas
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Hi, have I told you I work for NGfL Cymru? Probably a thousand times 😉

In the video below I show a great animation on convection currents in a room heated by a radiator that you can find on our website here. However, I don’t just give a tour of the animation, but I show how you can use it to encourage your students to talk about Physics in a creative way. It is a role play where you introduce the animation as a talk show of the life of the “Particles” family, which is your class. Well, the rest is in the video and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I believe this approach is an interesting way to develop Communication and Literacy skills in your pupils in a fun way!