OAPT Ontario Association of Physics Teachers

Conference Report 2009

Royal Military College

Department of Physics

28 - 30 May 2009

by Rolly Meisel


The stately buildings and armament of the Royal Military College welcome delegates to the OAPT conference.



Military etiquette forbids walking on the parade ground unless one is parading.




Old Fort Henry and several Martello towers guard the approaches to RMC.




Registration and the opening activities were held in the elegant Senior Staff Mess (SSM).




The view from the mess included one of the famous Martello towers, here seen firing on an enemy vessel attempting to penetrate the defenses.




The traditional BBQ provided delegates with an opportunity to regain their vitality after the long trek to Kingston. The excellent fare stimulated the renewal of old friendships and the making of new ones amid the comfortable appointments of the SSM.




The popular My Favourite Demonstration session opened with an invitation by James Ball for a member of the audience to shatter a few ribs using an industrial model hammer. Roberta Tevlin obliges.




Having survived the savage attack on his torso, James attempts to fracture the metacarpals in his left hand. However, his faith in Newton's First Law of Motion again protects him from serious injury.




Delegates with a weaker faith in Sir Isaac maintain a safe distance from the scene of the mayhem.




James continues his entertaining series of demonstrations with a toy from the planet Betelguese IV, a simple yet effective electric braking system such as the type used on amusement park rides, and an electromagnetic cannon that sends washers flying through the air.




OAPT President Glenn Wagner deftly whirls a glass of water in a vertical circle without spillage, while philosophizing on the use and misuse of the term "centripetal force" in physics classes.




The combination of a Victoria Day sparkler and a cordless drill makes for an illuminating demonstration featuring the Predict-Observe-Explain (POE) approach to teaching. Not shown in the photo is the smoke detector directly above Glenn's head.




Featured speaker Joe Buckley of RMC informed delegates of the myriad problems that must be overcome when working in the field of remote sensing of the Earth's surface from space.




Space shots of RMC at various resolutions amply demonstrated the advances that have been made in this field.




The Wine & Cheese following the opening activities allowed time to discuss new concepts, share ideas, or try out the Heintzman grand piano in the SSM. John Atherton tickles the ivories with The Maple Leaf Rag.




Friday began with a nutritious breakfast in the Cadet Hall, fortifying delegates with the resources needed for the grueling intellectual experiences to come.




After breakfast, delegates as well as interested local wildlife headed for the workshop sessions.




Keynote speaker Randy Knight from California Polytechnic State University drew connections between Physics Education Research (PER) and the classroom.




Of particular interest were his observations on the Student Laws of Motion in contrast to Newton's Laws of Motion.




Roberta Tevlin brought along a bewildering assortment of common objects for hands-on experience in demonstrating quantum effects in the classroom. Some delegates were quite startled by their first view of the world through polarizing glasses. Interference patterns show interesting effects when polarizers are used. Roberta finished by showing how the Borg implant lasers into their assimilants.




Lunch in the realxing atmosphere of the SSM was a welcome respite from the morning's heavy-duty neural stress.




Jason Harlow shared practical student activities for developing insight into the workings of the laws of motion.




Rob Niro and group work with an air cart and various measuring devices at Jason's workshop.




Ernie McFarland, one of the original founders of the OAPT, and its first president, receives a retirement card signed by grateful delegates from Diana Hall. Pressed to say a few words, Ernie demonstrates how he plans to take up rock climbing. Ernie is pressed into service helping Glenn select the winners for the Great Giveaway. Contrary to rumours, the OAPT will not be retiring Ernie's name tag. Ernie plans to remain highly active in the OAPT for a long time to come.




Boreal Labs generously donated an Astroscan to the Great Giveaway. A beaming Marianne Franklin walked away with the coveted prize.




Tom Russell and Eric Finn demonstrate apparatus for a POE (Predict-Observe-Explain) activity.




Delegates ponder the prediction part of the POE.




Jim Hunt presented a rediscovered 17th century toy: a Refractive Anamorphic viewer. Jim explains the oddly shaped prism required for the viewer.




The prism assembles several seemingly unrelated drawings into a single picture.




Delegates were invited to take a look through Jim's reconstruction of the viewer.




Shortly after the last session at RMC, delegates headed to Old Fort Henry for a special tour, followed by a banquet in the Officer's Club. While waiting for others to assemble, the photographer passed the time looking for objects of interest in the vicinity to photograph. The wind turbines reside on Wolfe Island, and are expected to meet the electrical demands of the city of Kingston when fully operational.




After entering through the forbidding back gate of Fort Henry, delegates enjoyed local brew and a tour of the fort.




While wandering through the old barracks, delegates were shown the original delegate accommodation being considered by the conference committee.




Sadly, the former soldiers' dormitory was not available for the conference.




Walking about the fort stimulated the appetite for the banquet. Some of the courses offered were a duet soup, prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, and a creme carmel for dessert. Strict 18th century rules of conduct were enforced, forbidding any talk of politics, religion, or women.




After the hearty repast, delegates were entertained by astronomer and writer Terence Dickenson, who shared many fascinating photographs taken both locally, and in exotic venues such as the Atacama desert in Chile.




When attending an OAPT conference, one never knows when an interference pattern will pop up, as Dave Fish demonstrates.




Dave Fish and Greg Dick from the Perimeter Institute test out a new teacher's kit for teaching quantum physics on delegates, taking advantage of many accumulated years of experience in the classroom to perfect the kit.




Glenn Wagner expresses the appreciation of the OAPT to Jean-Marc Noel and Mark Labrecque of RMC, who put in countless hours ensuring that the conference would run smoothly. The beautiful Galilean Thermometer will take residence in the physics department at RMC.




John Berrigan accepts a token of appreciation from Glenn for his stimulating presentation entitled Rockets for Dummies. No slight to delegates was intended.




Jean-Marc Noel emphasizes the complications (and headaches) involved in assembling a satellite-borne experiment.




OAPT 2009 is now history. Plan to join us next year for OAPT 2010 at the University of Toronto. Visit www.oapt.ca for updates.