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IOP Education

Study Space / February 2, 2020

The 'radioactive dice' experiment: why is the 'half-life' slightly wrong?

Arthur Murray and Ian Hart 2012 Phys. Educ. 47 197

The 'radioactive dice' experiment is a commonly used classroom analogue to model the decay of radioactive nuclei. However, the value of the half-life obtained from this experiment differs significantly from that calculated for real nuclei decaying exponentially with the same decay constant. This article attempts to explain the discrepancy and suggests modifications to the experiment to minimize this effect.

Open access

Rotating swings—a theme with variations

Ann-Marie Pendrill 2016 Phys. Educ. 51 015014

Rotating swing rides can be found in many amusement parks, in many different versions. The ‘wave swinger’ ride, which introduces a wave motion by tilting the roof, is among the classical amusement rides that are found in many different parks, in different sizes, from a number of different makes and names, and varying thematization. The ‘StarFlyer’ is a more recent version, adding the thrill of lifting the riders 60 m or more over the ground. These rotating swing rides involve beautiful physics, often surprising, but easily observed, when brought to attention. The rides can be used for student worksheet tasks and assignments of different degrees of difficulty, across many math and physics topics. This paper presents a number of variations of student tasks relating to the theme of rotating swing rides.

Introducing the LHC in the classroom: an overview of education resources available

Gerfried J Wiener et al 2016 Phys. Educ. 51 035001

In the context of the recent re-start of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the challenge presented by unidentified falling objects (UFOs), we seek to facilitate the introduction of high energy physics in the classroom. Therefore, this paper provides an overview of the LHC and its operation, highlighting existing education resources, and linking principal components of the LHC to topics in physics curricula.

Working with the nature of science in physics class: turning 'ordinary' classroom situations into nature of science learning situations

Lena Hansson and Lotta Leden 2016 Phys. Educ. 51 055001

In the science education research field there is a large body of literature on the ‘nature of science’ (NOS). NOS captures issues about what characterizes the research process as well as the scientific knowledge. Here we, in line with a broad body of literature, use a wide definition of NOS including also e.g. socio-cultural aspects. It is argued that NOS issues, for a number of reasons, should be included in the teaching of science/physics. Research shows that NOS should be taught explicitly. There are plenty of suggestions on specific and separate NOS activities, but the necessity of discussing NOS issues in connection to specific science/physics content and to laboratory work, is also highlighted. In this article we draw on this body of literature on NOS and science teaching, and discuss how classroom situations in secondary physics classes could be turned into NOS-learning situations. The discussed situations have been suggested by secondary teachers, during in-service teacher training, as situations from every-day physics teaching, from which NOS could be highlighted.

Most cited

Kundt's tube experiment using smartphones

Sara Orsola Parolin and Giovanni Pezzi 2015 Phys. Educ. 50 443

This article deals with a modern version of Kundt’s tube experiment. Using economic instruments and a couple of smartphones, it is possible to ‘see’ nodes and antinodes of standing acoustic waves in a column of vibrating air and to measure the speed of sound.

Measuring the speed of sound in air using smartphone applications

A Yavuz 2015 Phys. Educ. 50 281

This study presents a revised version of an old experiment available in many textbooks for measuring the speed of sound in air. A signal-generator application in a smartphone is used to produce the desired sound frequency. Nodes of sound waves in a glass pipe, of which one end is immersed in water, are more easily detected, so results can be obtained more quickly than from traditional acoustic experiments using tuning forks.

Interference phenomenon with mobile displays