, ,

After the moderately positive experience of Chem Camp, we decided to do a somewhat more abbreviated home Physics Camp, with Leo’s same friend, Connor in the two days before school started this week.

This didn’t go nearly as well as Chem Camp, mostly, I think, because Leo and Connor were significantly more distracted by one another, and so much less on task, mostly spinning off into MineCraft micro-conversations. (For some reason that I just don’t get at all, Minecrafters, and esp. Leo, are fascinated by the version history of MineCraft — what features/bugs got added/fixed in each version. Leo watches videos about this all the time, and for some reason loves bringing up old versions and re-living the bugs. Speaking as someone who spends a very large amount of my time squashing bugs in complex programs, intentionally reliving old bugs is about the farthest thing from fun that I can think of, short of self-inflicted physical pain! This said, Leo has learned a great deal about common causes of bugs from this fascination, esp. regarding floating point arithmetic problems.)

So, Physics camp included these topics:

  • Gyroscopic phenomena (via this terrific gyroscope kit)
  • Sound waves (via an electronic keyboard and oscilloscopic iPad app)
  • Minimal bubble surfaces (using shapes created with zoomtool; pic below)
  • Energy transfer (via Rube Goldberg Machines)
  • Dynamics (via normal and chaotic [double] pendula; pic below)
  • Optics (via lasers and lenses)
  • Work and Mechanical Advantage (via complex pulley arrangements)
  • Magnetic fields (via strong microwave oven magnets; pic below)
  • Electricity and magnetism (moving magnets creating current and v.v.)

I regret that I didn’t get to much formal computations, and also that I didn’t take as many pictures as I should have, but here are a few:

Building, and then running, the chaotic pendulum:

A great “hypercube” minimal bubble in a cube:


Best invention of the week was microwave magnets on a PVC pipe separated by electrical tape:


(Trying to demonstrate the Left Hand Rule for electromagnetism on our high power magnet apparatus.)

The tape and pipe keep the magnets from snapping together and breaking, or pinching fingers!