Physics Enrichment Program for High-School Students
Instructor: Ed Sternin
Welcome! You have found the PEP home page.

The PEP program is currently on hiatus. If you are a student interested in this program, or a teacher interested in offering such an enrichment opportunity to your students, please contact us. If a sufficient interest is expressed by about May of this year, we will consider offering the program again in the Winter Term (February-April) of the next academic year.

Course outline (changing almost daily)
  • Week 1. Preliminaries. Basic safety training.
    • Feb.1 - 16:00-19:00 Science Safety course, MC B209
    • Feb.3 - no PEP
  • Week 2. Math skills review. Where does Math end and Physics begin?
    • Feb.6 - orientation, lab safety, course goals, essay: "My expectations of PEP", Brock Library orientation
    • Feb.7 - math placement test

      Experimental theme: ball on a string

    • Feb.8 - results of the math test; pendulum's "alphabet soup"
    • Feb.9 - introduction to RPN calculators; a simple pendulum experiment
    • Feb.10 - simple pendulum refinement; analysis with physica
  • Week 3. Physicist's tools of the trade
    • Feb.13 - kinematics: motion with $$\vec{a}={\rm const}$$, with $$\vec{V}={\rm const}$$; more physica
    • Feb.14 - projectile and well: combinations (@same time, in turn) of the two types of motion
    • Feb.15 - orbital motion as a continuous free fall; 1st escape velocity

      Experimental theme: pendulum and SHO, the ideal and deviations from it

    • Feb.16 - dimensional analysis: $$\omega^2=k/m$$; plastic limit of deformations; exploring the limits of experimental apparatus
    • Feb.17 - no PEP, short clock
  • Week 4. Math vs. Physics vs. Data Analysis in problem solving
    • Feb.20 - Family Day, no PEP
    • Feb.21 - analysis of SHO data; what makes a problem difficult
    • Feb.22 - student-developed problems
    • Feb.23 - student problem: a falling ladder; rotational motion, torque, moment of inertia

      Experimental theme: the Cavendish experiment

    • Feb.24 - the Cavendish experiment: measuring G, preliminary runs and learning to read the lab manual, see links under Homework as well
  • Week 5. Math vs. Physics vs. Data Analysis in problem solving
    • Feb.27 - the Cavendish experiment: c1.dat is ES run, ce.pcm is used to analyze it; c3-4.dat is a merge of c3 and c4, but there are problems; the movies (10fps) are to be analysed
    • Feb.28 - stone down a well; solving $$x^2+bx+c=0$$
    • Feb.29 - programming a calculator; physica macro comparison
    • Mar.01 - Cavendish film digitization (group work, data)
    • Mar.02 - physics vs. magic. Friction on an inclined plane. Disk/ring, $$I\propto MR^2$$. Planning the final show.
  • Week 6.
    • Mar.05 - moment of inertia demo; collisions in 2D; Verdet glass. Vectors review: definitions, components, dot product, geometrical interpretation, generating algebraic equations.
    • Mar.06 - PhysicsBowl 2003 problems
    • Mar.07 - finish up Cavendish analysis; prepare for a report. Vectors, cont'd.
    • Mar.08 - midterm evals; planning a magic show.
    • Mar.09 - no PEP
  • Week 7. Spring Break
  • Week 8. Momentum
    • Mar.19 - in-class note-taking, momentum
    • Mar.20 - Physics Bowl 2004; how to write a lab report
    • Mar.21 - cannonballs inside a rail car, center-of-mass
    • Mar.22 - conservation of momentum; frog problem, in the board reference frame
    • Mar.23 - gas tube demo: sound is a pressure wave; 1 octave = 12 equal steps in frequency
  • Week 9. Physics of music
    • Mar.26 - frog problem, in the Earth reference frame; travelling and standing waves; "name that note"
    • Mar.27 - scales, ratios, compromises: musical temperaments, mathematical cochlea
    • Mar.28 - Pythagorean, just, well, and equal temperaments (a Physica macro; ref: Music: A mathematical offering, an on-line textbook); seeing electrons in a Bainbridge tube
    • Mar.29 - making musical instruments: a PVC trombone and flute
    • Mar.30 - minstrel songs on guitars; tuning a didgeridoo; measuring temperature with sound
  • Week 10.
    • Apr.02 - review of the physics of music; preparation for final presentations
    • Apr.03 - ice cube sliding off a globe; intro Fourier transforms
    • Apr.04 - playing with liquid Nitrogen
    • Apr.05 - superconductivity, Meissner effect, magnetic levitation
    • Apr.06 - Easter Friday, no PEP
  • Week 11.
    • Apr.08 - Easter Monday, no PEP
    • Apr.09 - density and specific heat measurements
    • Apr.10 - gnuplot; recursion
    • Apr.11 -
    • Apr.12 -