Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Web Videos, Pre-med Students: TPT Dec 2007

The December 2007 issue of The Physics Teacher contains some interesting and relevant pieces for astronomy teachers: the challenges of teaching pre-med students and a great suggestion concerning web videos.

Gerd Kortemeyer's article entitled "The Challenge of Teaching Introductory Physics to Premedical Students" is worthwhile reading for teachers of any intro science course. The articles discusses a study of students in physics courses for non-majors that are populated mainly by pre-med majors. Kortemeyer presents the reasons why pre-med students take physics and discusses the satisfication level that these students have with intro physics.

It probably is not surprising that such students are taking physics so that they can acquire knowledge required to answer questions on the MCAT. These same students would probably benefit from courses in intro physics classes designed specifically for them, with applications to medicine. An analytical physics class, that is heavy in mathematical derivation, may help them in the short term with MCAT questions. However, once pre-med students go into medical practice, they often wish they had learned more physics. A course designed for them could help them to see the applications to their work, and possibly retain that knowledge longer (at least, that is my thinking). Kortemeyer ends the article with an annotated listing of textbooks useful for such courses.

In the Websights section, Ralph McGrew writes about a surprisingly wonderful place to find web videos demonstrating physics: America's Funniest Home Videos. The AFV website has a massive online catalog of their clips, sorted into sections (though the search function is faster for finding a specific clip). I won't re-list all of McGrew's favorites, but I do have to point to my own favorite: Dorm Chair Hit, a painfully funny demonstration of Newton's 3rd Law. Here's one more: Crib Blanket Teamwork. Search through the AFV website, and comment below with your favorites that demonstrate some physics concept. What a cool way to show the physics of everyday life :-)

Cool physics videos on the web are not new. McGrew points to a few other neat videos, such as the hilarious demonstration of a water-bottle jet pack, from a Japanese tv show.

The Wohba blog regularly posted amazing videos, such as the Ruben's Tube demonstration. Of course, I can't mention physics web videos without pointing to my own contest-winning video on insulation.

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