Friday, August 28, 2009

What do you do on the First Day of Physics?

So I'm in the midst of the first day, and since I have no papers to grade or meetings to attend I'm free to reflect a little bit on this beginning.

Historically Experimental Physics has been the hardest of my classes to teach, and this year it's second period, but so far there's an extraordinarily excellent vibe in that class. I mean, I know it's only been one day, but I think the first day is pretty telling about the rest of the year.

So what do you do on the first day of school?

3 things:
Get some information about the kids, their interests, and their folks' contact
Go through preliminary stuff... Syllabus, Safety Contract, the Wiki Contract
Do an Agree/Disagree activity.

This is where we set up a continuum in the room from strongly agree down to strongly disagree, and then put out statements like:
Science is fun.
Scientific progress is good.
One theory is better than another if it explains more phenomena.
The universe is infinitely complex.

I really like it when we get to examine some of the ideas the lay unspoken at the heart of science. Wouldn't it be great if we reverted back to calling science "natural philosophy"? hehehe

So far so good!

Monday, August 10, 2009

VSHI in Montpelier

Since the Governor's Institute for Engineering I've found at least two other students who were interested in joining me in VSHI work in Montpelier. This is exciting since it's only been one other student and I representing our capitol so far.

This original student and I worked with the head of LIHEAP, Richard Moffi, to send out an interest survey to Montpelier LIHEAP clients, and have since received back several surveys for strong candidates to receive a pellet stove from the Vermont Sustainable Heating Initiative.

So far I've been on three site visits in Montpelier, some were stronger candidates than others, but man, we've got a bunch more to follow up with before we can make any decisions. After having met some of these families I can see that it's going to be ridiculously hard to turn people down. Oh my gosh - I think I may have caught the bug. All I want to do is help these people.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Transition Vermont

Although it may not seem like it, my lack of posting does not correlate with a lack of events worthy of blogging about, but rather it's more indicative of my lack of regular internet. Or perhaps it's more indicative of my laptop's failing airport card. (I must remember to get that fixed!)

Anyway, the item worth breaking my blogging fast for today is a website called Transition Vermont, which looks to be a collaboration of all my favorite Peak Oil and Sustainability groups, of course involving Carl Etnier, who has done more for sustainability in Vermont than almost anyone else I can think of.

It looks like a great resource, with a rich calendar of events and forums. (I hope to make it to the bee keeping class on the 15th!)