Free for Educators

Whether you’re a teacher or a motivated student, the materials provided here will be of use in the classroom or at your home desk. Most materials in this collection are related to physics, the physical sciences, or math. Some are great “rainy day” activities, others are mentally challenging puzzles, some are just plain fun. All are are based on sound pedagogical principles. And if you’re a substitute teacher, these are an excellent way to engage the class when you lack a lesson plan.

Physics Lessons with 1080×810 Animations and Teachers Notes
Suitable for grades 8-12 Physical Sciences
1.6 MB
Redshift and Blueshift: Video demonstrates the relativistic Doppler effect for a binary star system of two equal-mass G type stars. Redshift and blueshift are exaggerated for clarity. The Teachers Notes explains the physics and math, and includes two practice problems with solutions.
10.1 MB
3-scene video showing the Doppler Effect for sound waves in air. This video includes an audio track, so you can hear the Doppler Effect in the animation, and also for the real-time footage of a trumpet playing a sustained note on a moving bus.
11.8 MB
Linear Orbit Simulation: This 2-scene video depicts a hypothetical orbit with eccentricity e = 1. Note: this never happens. Still, we can learn some interesting physics. It’s what’s called a gedankenexperiment (thought experiment). We place two identical Earths in mutual orbit around their barycenter. We position the Moon at a point equidistant from both Earths. Then we watch what gravity does.

We look at the resulting “orbit” from two frames of reference (points of view). First, we observe from a frame that is co-rotating with the two Earths. Second, we observe from a frame that is fixed in space and not rotating. The appearance is strikingly different.
17.9 MB
Riding a Wild Elevator: One 5-scene video showing how an observer’s state of motion affects their sense of apparent weight while riding an elevator. Our intrepid observer stands on a scale inside the moving elevator. Various rides ensue. Plots of velocity vs. time are displayed.
4.1 MB
Light Clocks, Time Dilation, & Length Contraction:

Three related videos introducing the topic of Special Relativity.

Video 1: The Light Clock (RT = 1:54)
Video 2: The Light Clock in Motion – Part 1 (RT = 2:12)
Video 3: The Light Clock in Motion – Part 2 (RT = 2:09)

We begin with Einstein’s concept of the light clock. Its behavior at rest differs from that when in motion. The second video presents the effect known as time dilation, and the third presents length contraction. This lesson is a basic introduction to Special Relativity. Four practice problems for students are included.
6.8 MB
Lightning and Thunder: One 3-scene video explaining how lightning forms and how it generates thunder. As a bonus, the Teachers Notes includes a discussion of lightning protection systems with relevant images.
3.2 MB
The Speed of Light: Two videos related to the speed of light. Part 1 shows an early attempt to measure that speed in the lab. Part 2 shows a real-time and to-scale animation of a laser beam bouncing off the Moon and returning to Earth. The Teachers Notes provide all the necessary background physics and math, as well as a brief history of attempts to measure the speed of light. One practice problem is included.
10.8 MB
Two videos showing how, at extreme latitudes, both the Midnight Sun and the Noon Darkness can occur. Both are caused by the tilt of Earth’s rotation axis with respect to the plane of its orbit around the Sun. Part 2 includes an animation of the rotating Earth explaining both phenomena, and a time-lapse photo of the Midnight Sun over Antarctica.

Part 1: The view from Barrow Alaska (RT = 3:51)
Part 2: Earth animation and Midnight Sun photo (RT = 1:37)
4.1 MB
This 2-scene animation shows several aspects of the Earth-Moon orbital system, including:

•    Earth-Moon system to scale as seen from 1 million km out in space.
•    The Moon keeps the same side facing Earth throughout its monthly orbit.
•    Both Earth and Moon simultaneously orbit the barycenter of this 2-body system.
•    Lunar gravity creates a tidal bulge on Earth that follows the Moon as it moves.
•    One orbit of the Moon (one month) takes 29.5 rotations (days) of Earth.
15.5 MB
The Science of Orbits: Four videos show how an “orbit” is a state of motion in which a body is continuous falling toward the Earth, but never getting any closer to the ground. This unintuitive concept is explained in a series of animations starting from basic kinematics. It begins with Galileo’s apocryphal experiment in Pisa, Italy.
20.6 MB
How We Make Electricity: Nine videos show how we make electricity from natural sources of energy. Video 1 explains the physics of electromagnetic induction. The following videos show how we harvest specific sources.

Video 1: The Generator (RT = 1:20)
Video 2: Fossil Fuels (RT = 1:48)
Video 3: Nuclear (RT = 1:30)
Video 4: Geothermal (RT = 1:34)
Video 5: Solar Thermal (RT = 1:32)
Video 6: Wind (RT = 0:55)
Video 7: Hydro (RT = 1:05)
Video 8: Waves (RT = 1:25)
Video 9: Photovoltaics (RT = 1:35)

Content for the Physics Classroom

ASI.pdf 504 KB Applied Science Investigations: A collection of 36 one-page student investigations that can be used in class or as take-home assignments. They can also serve as a starting point for a science fair project. APIs span all areas of physical science including measurement, kinematics, energy, astronomy, waves, sports, as well as creative writing and math. All are classroom tested and students enjoy the challenges. Suitable for grades 6-12.
Chapter-Zero.pdf 16.6 MB Aptly named, this 10-unit manual reviews the mathematics science students need to know: algebra, trigonometry, vector analysis, proportions, statistics, graphing methods, units and conversions, scientific notation, significant figures, uncertainty, and the (basic) scientific calculator. Answers to the practice problems for each unit are included, as well as copyright-free masters for Cartesian, polar, semi-log, and log-log graph paper. Use it as an introductory unit or for reference. This is not an “easy read.” It is targeted for the serious student of science who is motivated to improve their mathematics skills. Suitable for grades 9-12. 1.6 MB The International Dateline: Includes an animation (700×500@30 fps) and Teachers Notes. Students (and adults) often have questions about the International Dateline. The animation shows clearly how the Dateline works, why it is needed, and the effect it has on travel.
Graph-Paper.pdf 427 KB USEFUL AT ALL GRADE LEVELS. A collection of printable graph paper with Cartesian, polar, semi-logarithmic, and logarithmic formats. Several different scales in each category.Stop throwing your money away at the bookstore and get this graph paper for the cost of toner and paper!
MCQ.pdf 1.1 MB 780 Multiple-Choice Questions, MS Word document, 95 single-spaced pages. Classroom-tested questions (with answers) for physical science or physics. Can be used for in-class drill, review, or generating your own custom tests. 129 KB The Five Optical Configurations of Telescopes: Five 320×480 animations showing how light moves through the five basic configurations of telescope optics. No text or equations — visual only. One page of teachers notes included. Suitable for grades 6-12. 18.4 MB Produced under contract for General Robotics Corporation of Lakewood, CO, this curriculum package includes exercises designed around their RB5X Intelligent Robot. Interdisciplinary problem-solving activities are given for all grade levels. Students will answer essay questions, complete crosswords, solve math and physics problems, write programs, and design hardware solutions related to teleoperation. Mission to Mars includes a separate teacher’s manual with solutions. NOTE: This curriculum easily adapts to other robotics hardware and programming languages, since problem and solutions are presented as flowchart algorithms. Package includes both student and teacher versions, as well as HOW2RCL.pdf, a guide to the Tiny Basic programming language used by the RB5X. Adaptable for grades 6-16.
Sourcebook.pdf 9.1 MB This is a supplement for introductory physics courses. Part 1, Advanced Topics, covers areas often omitted from standard introductory texts: Archimedes’ Principle, orbital mechanics, relativity, SETI, bioenergetics, and friction. Part 2, Worksheets, includes engaging real-world problems (with answers provided) from kinematics, dynamics, kinetic theory, electricity, electromagnetism, and modern physics. Part 3, Appendix, contains just about every type of information a science student (or teacher) could need, plus copyright-free masters for Cartesian, polar, semi-log, and log-log graph paper. Suitable for grades 9-12.

Classroom and Take-Home Activities

425 KB
Challenge your students with this mind-bending Origami creation. It looks impossible but can be easily constructed. Suitable for grades 6-12.
Constellations.pdf 1.1 MB This worksheet helps when identifying constellations in the sky. Students are challenged to find constellations that have been rotated (compared to the reference chart) and interspersed with random stars. It’s a fun exercise in pattern recognition.  Answer key included. Suitable for grades 6-12.
Crossword-1.pdf 48 KB Physics vocabulary crossword (basic): 40 clues for physics terms and concepts are presented in this puzzle. Answers are provided on the second page. Page 1 shows the geometry involved in solar and lunar eclipses. Page 2 has 11 calculation problems based on that geometry. Access to reference materials or online data is required. Numerical answers are provided. Suitable for students of geometry and physics students, or advanced students in physical science.
Crossword-2.pdf 144 KB Physics vocabulary crossword (advanced):101 clues for (mostly) physics terms and concepts are presented in this puzzle. Clues and answers are provided on separate pages. Too long to be completed in a single class period, but could be done with teams of four. Also useful as a challenging take-home assignment. Suitable for first year physics students.
Eclipses.pdf 80 KB Simple two-page handout showing the geometry of solar and lunar eclipses. Includes questions and problems with answers on the second sheet. Experience with geometry and trigonometry are required.
Geography.ppt 248 KB This is a PowerPoint game modeled on the classic Jeopardy! TV show. This specific game covers geography, but it can be used as a template for creating your own games simply by editing the questions and answers. Instructions are on the final slide. Font size and color contrast is suitable for viewing in an average classroom using at least a 40 inch display.
Gravity.pdf 95 KB This single-sheet document summarizes all the equations of Newtonian Gravitation Theory as applied to planets and orbits. It’s an excellent supplement to any physics textbook. The math level required is Algebra 2 or higher.
Horoscope.pdf 294 KB A Statistical Test of Astrology: Do a lot of your students read their daily horoscope? Do they understand the difference between astronomy and astrology? Run this experiment in class and allow them to discover the truth. The mathematics required is Algebra 1. This is a multiple-day activity that requires some teacher preparation.
Limerick.pdf 26 KB Science limerick contest: Fun activity for grades 6–12, and could apply to any subject area. This one is written for science and includes 17 student entries and 4 classic examples of science limericks. Best used as an extended assignment to give the students some time to create.
Locust.pdf 134 KB Locust Locus Hocus Pocus: Test spatial visualization and creative thinking. Experience with geometry helps but is not necessary. The task is to limit the movement of a locust to an area of lawn shaped like a semicircle. All you have are 3 stakes, a ring, and an unlimited amount of rope. Includes solution. Suitable for grades 6-12.
Metric.pdf 201 KB Metric System Review: Page 1 presents a summary of how conversions are done in SI with examples, and includes a chart of the metric prefixes. Page 2 presents a student worksheet with 20 conversion problems. Page 3 provides the solutions. Suitable for grades 9-12.
Micrometer.pdf 92 KB Many labs still have the old style analog micrometers instead of the current digital models. Students often struggle with reading the measurement scales on these older instruments. This single-sheet handout explains (with diagrams) how to read a metric analog micrometer. It won’t look exactly like your micrometer but the instructions apply to all models, even those using imperial units.
Notes.pdf 447 KB Taking good notes in a science class involves different strategies than what would be used in, say, a history class. This single-sheet handout describes the best methods for obtaining great science notes for each of three different classroom activities: traditional verbal lectures, sample calculation sessions, and multimedia (including demonstrations with apparatus). Suitable for grades 9-12.
PPPP.pdf 429 KB Perplexing Power Pole Puzzle: Find the shortest length of wire that can connect a power plant to multiple cities. The puzzle includes a ready-to-go sample (with solution), and instructions for creating your own puzzles from the included template. This exercise is modeled on a real-world engineering problem. Suitable for students who understand, or have been shown how to use, the Pythagorean Theorem. Calculator required.
Scramble.doc 31 KB Geometry Scramble: This is a one-sheet handout that presents an “unscramble the letters” challenge, including hints. Answers are provided on the second page. This type of challenge tests vocabulary, spelling, visual imagination, and deductive skills. And it’s good to have on hand for those days when your lesson plan comes up short. This specific scramble uses terms from geometry, but it can be used as a template for creating your own scramble. All you need is a text editor. Suitable for grades 6-12.