High School Mathematics-Physics SMILE Meeting
1997-2006 Academic Years
Miscellaneous Materials

07 April 1998  Fred Schaal [Lane Tech High School]
Fred discussed why ice cream doesn't get really hard in "frost free" freezers. The process of refrigeration inevitably generates "frost", and the frost-free freezers have an automatic defrost cycle every 8-12 hours. A fan blows against the cooling coils during the cooling cycles, and during the defrost cycle the transfers the moisture to a condensing region outside the frost chamber. Simple, yet elegant, non? Frost-free refrigerators are far less energy-efficient than their simpler counterparts, since there are heaters as well as coolers present, and the defrost cycle is intrinsically wasteful. Still, they are very convenient.

16 March 1999: F. J. Schaal [Lane Tech HS]
He was working with the Boy Scouts, and they had a egg and a bottle. They had the egg sucked into the bottle, and he was exploring ways of getting the egg out of the bottle, next week he as going to show us the bottle (if he could get the bottle from the Boy Scouts).  04 May 1999: More on the egg and the bottle. He was thinking of way to get the egg out of the bottle that is was sucked into. Starting a fire so as to build pressure to push the egg out?? If the pressure is too great the bottle will explode??? Jet-x rocket fuel...maybe the model rocked fuel that was around a while back could be lit and push the egg out.

Someone commented that just blowing into the bottle might give enough pressure to force the egg out?

16 March 1999: Don Kanner [Lane Tech HS]
He brought back something that was done in the 70's. He hung a dry cleaner bag that was turned into a ribbon by nothing and twisting. He also had a FIRE EXTINGUISHER ready and a bucket of water to catch the drippings of the burning plastic rope. As it burned the drippings turned blue (better combustion) and made a sound as it fell. The pitch as estimated to be around 6-800 cps and as it fell the pitch increased. Another facet was that there seemed to be a strobe of the burning flame as it fell. The blue flame also seemed to be oscillating??? Why?? Doppler was not an issue since the falling flame was perpendicular to us??? It seems that a dry cleaner bag works best

14 September 1999: Carl Martikean [Wallace School, IN]
read us an amusing story in which guiding principles of physics/chemistry are used to lead to answers to the question: Is Hell Exothermic or Endothermic? Fun and interesting!  See the website http://www.pinetree.net/humor/thermodynamics.html.

09 November 1999:  Ann Brandon (Joliet West HS)
held up a liquid crystal thermometer in the form of a thin aluminum plate shaped like a very broad, inverted U, (about 12 cm long x 8 cm wide, with 2 cm "legs") with strips of liquid crystal film mounted on its top surface. Ann pointed out the patch of color on the strips of film, indicating room temperature. Two shallow dishes were placed on the table, and cold water was placed in one, hot water in the other. Ann put the thermometer down so that one aluminum "leg" rested in the hot water and the other in cold water. As we gathered around, we could see the temperature-indicating color patches on the strips moving until they formed a straight, diagonal line connecting the hot end to the cold end. What a beautiful, graphic, convincing way to show linear temperature drop from heat source to heat sink for uniform thermal conductivity through the aluminum! (A Giveaway from an ISPP meeting at DePaul!) Thanks, Ann!

22 January 2002: Bill Shanks (Joliet Central, retired) Solar Heating/Cooling (a favorite subject of Leo Seren's)
Bill and others mentioned various matters.

08 October 2002: Bill Blunk [Joliet Central, Physics]     Molecular Shish Kabob
showed us the Matter Model Kit [ME-9825; $64.00; to see an image click here], which he obtained from the 2002 Pasco Physics and Data Collection Catalog [http://www.pasco.com], which contains the following information:

The Matter Model allows students to better understand the structure of matter and the dynamic relationship between its atoms. The "atoms" of the Matter Model are brightly colored spheres specifically designed to facilitate the many uses of this kit in the physics and chemistry classroom. The bonds between the atoms are modeled with springs, a very popular model used in textbooks and other educational research material. The atoms can be configured into many patterns depending on the concepts to be investigated. Each atom can be opened and closed using two convenient snaps. The inside of each atom has a slot that allows students to place one of the included nuts. In this way, the mass of the atoms can be changed. In addition, the springs can be easily connected to or removed from the atom using the six quick connects. When we held the brass rod horizontally, the atoms were evenly spaced, being held in place by the tension in the springs. Then we shifted the rod to the vertical position, while holding the bottom atom fixed, and we noticed that the atoms were closer together at the bottom of the rod than at the top. This is a good model for the increase of pressure with depth inside a gas. The vibrational properties of this system were fascinating. Very good, Bill!

04 November 2003: Larry Alofs [Kenwood HS,  Physics]        Why measure resistance?
set up the mini-camera system obtained recently from All Electronics Corporation [http://allelectronics.com/].  He hooked it directly into the projection system built into the classroom, and it worked perfectly. He focused it on the screen of a digital Volt-Ohm-Meter [VOM], which he set to measure resistance.  With all of us now able to see its readings, Larry  then went through several exercises to show why it is important to be able to measure resistance, as well as how to measure it.

What a great way to motivate student interest in electrical resistance! Thanks, Larry.

20 April 2004: Monica Seelman [ST James Elementary School]         Bubble Trumpets and Bubble Recipes
pulled out a Bubble Trumpet, which she had obtained from Tangent Toy Company: http://www.tangenttoy.com/trumpet.html. (3 page handout)  She had learned about this device from the article Playthings of Science by Fred Guterl, which appeared in the December 1996 issue of Discover Magazine: http://www.discover.com/issues/dec-96/. When she dipped this device into the bubble solution, and then held it up and blew hard on the mouthpiece, a froth filled with bubbles was produced.  By contrast, when she repeated the procedure and blew slowly but steadily, a single large bubble came out of the trumpet.  She then asked the following questions:

Monica provided us with several recipes for the bubble solution, which she had obtained from The Bubblesphere website:  http://www.bubbles.org/html/solutions/formulae.htm.  She all passed around Soap Bubbles by Ron Hipschmann, which appears on the Exploratorium [SF] website:  http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/bubbles/bubbles.html.

Thanks for delving into the mysteries of bubble science, Monica!

09 November 2004: Bill Shanks [New Lenox Environs,  at large]           Water Source Detector?
Bill brought in a device with prongs that required batteries, which can be inserted into a soft medium or fluid It looked like a very large black plastic fork, with two metal-pointed tines.  The device has the labels Well, Medium Well, Medium, Medium Rare, Rare, and Very Rare.  It is not used to determine the source of water, but to give some indication as to the temperature.  The device, a Thermal Fork, was obtained at Walgreens for about $10.  How does it work?  The following answers were given:

Thermocouple, Thermistor, Ohm Meter, Thermoresistor

For additional information see New Types of Food Thermometershttp://www.amazon.com/Taylor-1482-Digital-Fork-Thermometer/dp/B00009WE44 A Very interesting question, Bill!

10 May 2005: Larry Alofs  [Kenwood HS, physics]               Stirling Engine
show us the AJS 66415 Stirling engine model https://www1.fishersci.com/Coupon?cid=1341&gid=2368582&details=Y, which he had obtained from Fischer Scientific: https://www1.fishersci.com/. The following description is given:

"Heat from a small candle sends this Stirling engine model into oscillation almost immediately. Easy to construct, this unit demonstrates the Stirling engine principle. A test tube acts as the cylinder and four marbles work as a transfer piston."
Our device, which consists of a test tube of outside diameter 18 mm with four marbles inside, pivots about a center with balloon stretched over a rubber stopper that is tightly pushed into the opening. When the bottom of the test tube is heated with a candle, the air inside expands, and fills the balloon, which is tucked under the test tube near the fulcrum, causing the tube to tilt.  The marbles then roll to the other end of tube, the air inside cools, and the test tube tilts back again.  Under proper conditions the process repeats itself every second or so, the device acting as an engine.  We were disappointed with the operation of our engine --- the breezes in the room may have prevented its proper action.

For additional information on Stirling engines, see the American Stirling Company website:  http://www.stirlingengine.com/

Physics at work!  Thanks, Larry.

29 November 2005: Fred Schaal (Lane Tech)               Conserving the Heat of my toes
recently broke his leg and has had a cast. How should Fred keep his toes warm with just the little "boot" that is provided to put over his stockinged foot?. He put a stocking cap over his toes, with a plastic bag over the cap, the entire "apparatus" being held in place with a bungee cord. Very enterprising, Fred!

24 January 2006: Roy Coleman (Morgan Park HS, retired!)              Color changes
Ann Brandon is a "cover girl" on the 75th anniversary issue of the The Physics Teacher! Roy has been judging science fairs the past week, and ran across a problem with zeroes, specifically a girl who stated that there are currently 750 people in the world who speak English. A couple of weeks ago a student asked why wetting a cloth with water darkens the shade of the color! For a partial answer see the website:  How does water change the apparent 'darkness' of many objects? by MIT physics graduate student Jason Goodmanhttp://groups.csail.mit.edu/graphics/pubs/wet_materials_egwr99.pdf. This is a deceptively simple question, one for us to think about and discuss in later meetings!  Thanks, Roy!

21 March 2006: Bill Colson commented on the Mr Calm - Mr Angry optical illusion at the last meeting. Bill had gone to one of the web sites included in the newsletter. Bill said that the writer of one of the web sites explained that each image is overprinted with features at different resolutions, presumably features appearing and disappearing as you get closer to or farther away from the image.