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Hosting a Delegation of Chinese Physics Teachers from Hangzhou

I am honoured I was asked to host a delegation of 24 Chinese physics teachers from Hangzhou. These teachers are travelling to Canada to learn more about physics teaching and the use of technology in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. This is something I am very passionate about and I was happy I was able to spend some time with these people.

I was asked to host them for a day and I was initially a little worries about them falling asleep as it was their first day in Canada and they were tired from the flight. However, it wasn’t the case at all. The day flew by very fast and the teachers were very much engaged. We had a lot of discussions, experiments and physics problem solving… It was a very exciting day for me. They also had a chance to meet with our future physics teachers. They asked each other questions and it was an interesting experience as well…

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A group photo. We were lucky the weather improved when we went outside.

I have learned a few interesting ideas from them and I hope they also learned something interesting from me. Here is one idea I have picked up during the day. I love discussing with my students how Galileo Thermometer works. It is relevant to the discussions about density, buoyancy, etc. The idea behind it is that as the temperature rises, the fluid in the glass cylinder expands, its density goes down and the glass bubbles filled with liquid sink. As we discussed it, and I asked the teachers about different possible explanations of this device, they put forward a number of interesting ideas. Then, when we came up with the explanation, they suggested to me to put a red tape on the thermometer when it is cold to indicate the level of fluid, and then see what happens when the temperature of fluid goes up (we put it in warm water). This was a very good suggestion and it worked beautifully. I loved it. It was fun.

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Red tape on the Galileo thermometer indicates the level of water when the temperature was below the room temperature.

It shows why having an opportunity to meet with other physics educators is so valuable. I wish my Chinese colleagues an amazing trip and lots of great meetings and experiences. I hope they remember Canada as a beautiful and warm country despite our cold weather and rain. I also hope to visit Hangzhou one day…

The materials for the presentation can be found here:

chineseteachersdelegationoctober2016_mmb

chineseteachersdelegationoctober2016_mmb

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