1. whcalhoun

    New Demonstrations


    A couple of new quick labs for my students this fall. Thanks physics Twitter!

    I finally bought zcars and had students do this lab – worked great! Thanks for the idea. We graphed a-t using Desmos and later graphed v-t by hand. We used half-second intervals, a little fast for …

  2. whcalhoun

    The Collision that Formed the Moon


    I was poking around YouTube looking at videos about where the Earth’s Moon came from. The currently accepted theory is called the Giant Impact Hypothesis. Though details differ, the main idea is that a smaller planet collided with the early Earth, and the Moon arose from the resulting debris. This …

  3. whcalhoun

    Stacking all the Planets


    You’ve probably come across this idea that all the planets could fit between Earth and the Moon. The usual representation looks like this image I found on Google:

    It turns out, it’s not entirely true. Here’s a good article about this, published in Slate a few years ago. The planets …

  4. whcalhoun

    Using Desmos for Physics (Part I)


    When I discovered Desmos, I knew that both I and my students would love it. Desmos has been called an online graphing calculator, which is literally true, but a description that barely captures the possibilities. I have come to see Desmos as a programmable simulator, using a programming language …

  5. whcalhoun

    New Physics Curriculum


    I was tasked this year with redesigning the physics curriculum at my school. Our state (MA) just upgraded their framework, so we needed to re-align. For the last decade, the state’s framework was nothing more than a shopping cart of physics topics. There wasn’t even an attempt to distinguish topics …

  6. whcalhoun

    Space Junk Joyride


    I don’t get nearly enough chances to use Celestia in my classroom. I’ve loved messing around with Celestia for years, but it’s the rare student who shares my enthusiasm for astronomy. In class I will use Celestia to demonstrate gravitational orbits – moons around planets, planets and comets around suns, …

  7. whcalhoun

    High (Voltage) Wire Act


    My brother-in-law Peter visited last year and showed me and my wife some of his favorite short videos on YouTube. When I saw this one featuring a man inspecting high voltage lines, I knew that I would show it to my students. It’s a lovely little video narrated by the …

  8. whcalhoun

    The Electromagnetic Spectrum


    A couple of years ago, when my team of physics teachers started building instruction around the topic of electromagnetic radiation, I began assembling a list of different common uses of EM radiation. This list would provide a basis of information to use in our written instruction, as well as suggest …

  9. whcalhoun

    The Sun in Various Wavelengths


    My physics curriculum has shifted in response to our new state frameworks, and one shift has been a greater emphasis on electromagnetic radiation. I’ve been having fun concocting new examples and demonstrations (including an “in-house” field trip to our metal fabrication shop to experience welding).

    This spring my class was …

  10. whcalhoun

    A Story About Weather and Teaching

    Physics as Story

    I think of physics as a kind of story. It’s actually a huge collection of stories, the result of working to understand every physical phenomenon under the sun (and beyond). In the physics classroom I am therefore a storyteller, and I endeavor to help my students become …

  11. whcalhoun

    Quick Electromagnetism Demo Videos


    One of my students this past year had a medical condition that required him to be out of school for an extended time. In situations like this, I usually aggregate all the instructional material for a unit into a single file called a Portfolio PDF. Notes, homework, worksheets, quizzes, …

  12. whcalhoun

    Exploration: Radical Design – INTE 5100


    It seems that a lot of our instructi9onal design projects involve bringing some sort of technological improvement to an organization or community. This was certainly true in our case. Hey, here’s a great idea, efficient cookstoves, we’ve designed them and now we’d like you, the Low-Tech Gurus, to design a …

  13. whcalhoun

    Notes on Radioactivity & Particle Physics


    Cross-posted from Teaching Is . . .

    BP Tech Applied & Advanced Physics

    Some notes on how we could approach teaching radioactivity/nuclear structure


    The State of Massachusetts has revised its high-school science curriculum finally. But there is an orphan unit: radioactivity. I think this must be a new unit …

  14. whcalhoun

    WWW Drive


    All the files I have generated in the course of my Master’s Degree program are located on Google Drive. Sometimes this is required because there will be collaborative writing or editing of documents, or because an instructor wishes to leave comments on a document. Until recently, I have been able …

  15. whcalhoun



    This was the assignment for INTE 5680: Create a 30-second video that illustrates a concept using no spoken word. I’m a physics teacher, and always looking for ways to make invisible concepts more visible. So I chose the concept of gravity. Can you tell this is the first smartphone video …

  16. whcalhoun

    A Day in the Life in the Future


    The assignment: produce an Alternative Media Item using a new media tool. I chose ThingLink as my tool for this project. It’s a tool for marking up images and video. I think I chose it because I had been thinking of using Zaption for my final project, and have since …

  17. whcalhoun

    Let’s Make a Rocket!


    After all the reading for this unit, I wanted to create something that really took advantage of a smartphone’s strengths while avoiding its weaknesses. Since I’m pretty handy with websites, I created a web app (essentially a single-page website).

    First I used Photoshop to create a collection of graphics. I’ve …

  18. whcalhoun

    Lily the Labrador


    Here she is, Lily the Labrador. Is she really from Labrador? Is “labrador” really a word? Find out!

    So many new tools . . . The video was shot with a hand-held Samsung smartphone, the first time I’ve ever done that. And the additional audio was recorded with an SM57 …

  19. whcalhoun

    Why CARP?


    Here at the ILT program at UC Denver there is an emphasis on effective design. There is a set of basic design principles taught in each class, summed up with the acronym CARP. It stands for Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, and Proximity. Go ahead and Google it – there are a …

  20. whcalhoun

    A Community of Practice

    A Final Reflection on INTE 5340

    I am in my first year as a graduate student, and Learning With Digital Stories was the fourth course I’ve taken. It has been very interesting being a graduate student – it is unlike any other formal ‘student’ experience I have had. Here is …

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