Tuesday, September 26, 2017

experiemental stream of

You know that Newton guy did a lot of thinking about the movement of things. Why he discovered a whole new branch of mathematics while pondering falling apples. After hearing this latest idea about teaching physics I wonder if Newton had more that falling apples to watch.

public physics lesson

It was in my high school physics class that the power of mathematics became apparent. Our teacher helped us formulate the equation of the path of projectile. Newton's Principia (greatest science book ever written?), explains the workings of the solar system with "simple" equations. His underlying math of moving objects was eventually applied to rockets traveling to outer space.

There are many examples of projectiles that don't require a canon or rocket. Golfing, football, watering your lawn and one that boys often find entertaining - urinating. Yes the path of the stream follows the path of a projectile. It's also a simple way to demonstrate vectors.

You may have heard this story.

Three Australian researchers have proposed an explanation why the largest gaps in performance between girls and boys arise in questions that involve projectile motion. In this report they state:

Playful urination practices – from seeing how high you can pee to games such as Peeball (where men compete using their urine to destroy a ball placed in a urinal) – may give boys an advantage over girls when it comes to physics.
Now until now I never thought my attempt to write my name in the snow had anything to do with my love of physics. Oh the many times I could have just used studying physics as an excuse.

The researchers are serious. They suggest not using projectile motion for the introduction to physics. Another quote from the report:

But despite the surface layer of toilet humour, and the implication that physics may be little more than a pissing contest, we’re making a serious point. As the proportion of jobs in the science and technology sector rises, and many of the complex problems the world faces require high levels of scientific and technological literacy to be understood and resolved, lower achievement and participation rates for young women in physics are set to become even more significant problems.

This outside-the-toilet-bowl idea might be as wrong as leaving the seat wet (I was studying evaporation Mom!) but if anything it will bring more attention to this gender gap.

Here's an example of a woman who had no problem grasping the math of projectiles, Katherine G. Johnson.

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