SMILE HS Mathematics-Physics Notes
Meeting of 15 September 1998
Prepared by Alex Junievicz

Al Tobecksen [Richard Vocational HS]

He showed the bed of nails that he uses in class to calm troubled students and to teach pressure. Also, he showed that a flask of H2O with cardboard underneath usually doesn't spill when inverted. He "volunteered" an audience member and added some drama by switching from a small flask to a large one, using a parka to prevent the participant from getting soaked.

Bill Colson [Morgan Park HS]

Having been an English teacher, he commented on a magazine called "CATALYST" and several articles on teaching math in CPS.

                Grade         Level of materials
                 8            5th grade math
                 6            3rd grade math
                 8            Teach telling time

The policy seems to be "re-teach if there is any doubt; play it safe". Text books in US have lots of material to satisfy most situations. A lot of it is "extra", while in Japan the texts are simpler. We have 300-500 pages here, versus 150 pages in Japan.

Fred Schaal [Lane Tech HS]

He continued to discuss the question: "Why does soda at colder temperature foam less than warm soda?" Karlene Kurth [also at Lane Tech HS] indicated that the lower temperature a greater amount of CO2 to be dissolved than at higher temperature. [Also with more thermal energy the molecules were more active]. A comment was made about ICE rinks before the Zamboni machine...Clearing snow and spreading water caused uneven ice, but hot water resulted in smoother ice.

Karlene Kurth [Lane Tech HS]

She had an idea (source was an old Physics Teacher) to spice up the first experiment---instead of just measuring and avoiding a conclusion give a problem. Find the volume of a room and ask how long there will be enough breathable air. She showed a way of measuring the volume a person breathes. An inverted graduated cylinder in a pot all filled with H2O and a straw to breathe through to get air in the cylinder. Also units and conversion to a common measure could be discussed. One of the ways variables was that if several people were exterminated the others would live longer--of course the obvious variables---level of activity, etc. [5 breaths took 18 seconds and was about 1070 ml or about 1 liter. 2 -5 days was a typical conclusion .]

[editor's note: I have tried to emphasize significant places and accuracy as part of the conclusion. Using the correct device -Calipers for small distance, or using the floor tile as a gauge of distance, I have given something impossible to do with the equipment and see what they came up with--This is an interesting spin.]

Porter Johnson -comments-

Now with newer construction -plastic wrap, double glass windows, etc - there is much less air being changed in the homes. Where in an old home air was replaced in 15 min to 30 min, in newer houses it is much longer. This may cause problems when inside air is being used for combustion. Fireplaces and furnaces now often draw outside air and exhaust that air, avoiding serious problems with the inside air.

Radon gas was also brought up as potentially very dangerous, even possibly worse than asbestos. Asbestos doesn't seem to be that deadly, and insurance settlements have been based upon highly questionable estimates of damages. [CNA asbestos settlement of $2 billion dollars was based upon a premium paid of less than $10,000.] The problems arising from asbestos removal can be much greater, because of airborne dust.

Radon as a chemical will not react but the problem is that it decays with a half-life of 3.4 days, and may cause serious respiratory damage in the lungs, since the Radon may stick to air sacs in the lung, and do serious damage there. The decay sequence for Uranium is the following:

Uranium ---> Thorium ---> Radium ---> Radon ---> Polonium ---> Lead

Radon is formed by this decay of Uranium [present in coal and various shale rocks], and it seeps upward and into basements. Concrete is a fairly porous substance (tar is often placed on the under side of concrete to seal concrete) and if the air pressure is negative (less that outside) Radon is sucked out of the ground. A furnace using air from inside for combustion causes a negative pressure, allowing radon to be sucked in. It was mentioned that one of the products to reduce Radon was a pump to remove air from the basement if the air pressure dropped. Radon levels vary with the geographic area--what is underground and how easily it can escape.

The high voltage in a TV set (27 kV) attracts dust and with a Geiger Counter will show signs of the activity.

Ann Brandon [Joliet West HS]

First she brought in labels from a soda bottle sold in Australia. They indicated not calories, or even kilo-calories, but kilo-Joules. It was commented by the audience that Calories are a nice even standard 1-1-1 versus "something that is not an even integer"

Second she talked about position-versus-time and some of the permutations of position velocity time in uniformly accelerated motion.