Thursday, August 17, 2017

"Physics Girl" - Her Videos Bring Easy To Learn Physics To Everyone

Physics Girl in Action - teaching physics with plenty of graphics and hip humor to anyone who wants to learnHer videos will be especially appealing to girls thinking about a physics career.

As I wrote in my Aug. 11 post, James Damore's  Google memo did a great disservice to women by casting their work aptitudes and skills in terms of psychological limitations derived from biology. I also noted that my  own experience has been that if a female physics student is given the opportunity to be systematic and excel in a serious challenge she will do it.  That includes individual physics projects (for science fairs) as well as team projects and advanced homework problems (say for extra course credit).

Physics itself is often perceived as a difficult subject, and many women dodge going into the field because of misperceptions - either because they believe it "too difficult" or essentially a male preserve. Both of these factored into the specialization decision of my brilliant niece Shayle, i.e. to go into clinical psychology instead of pursuing an advanced physics degree.  (This despite the fact she attained an 'A' in Physics at Advanced Level in the course of earning a Barbados Scholarship.)

It is true that many talented young women turn away from physics or engineering pursuits for similar reasons, but this need not be the case. One of the outstanding exceptions - apart from the many professional women already involved in physics and astrophysics - is "Physics Girl".   This is none other than Dianna Cowern who has made it her job to present a wide variety of short (5- 6 minute) physics tutorials with plenty of graphics and lots of hip humor.   Cowern, an MIT physics graduate, now works at the University of California San Diego's Center for Astrophysics and Space Science.

In many ways Dianna Cowern is doing for physics what former actress Danica McKellar did for girls and math, such as in her books: Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss,  and  Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape.

For those who want to 'dip their toes' into physics topics without being put off by math or jargon, her youtube presentations are solid gold. Indeed, they are also ideal introductions to many aspects of the subject for girls and one of Ms. Cowern's aims is to make science accessible to girls.  But truly, these short, fun learning experiences are terrific for anyone who wants to learn some physics.

Below, I've appended links  for a number of her youtube videos, with the topic headers:

1) Craziest eclipses in the solar system:

2) Why Is The Universe Flat?:

3) Seven Science Experiments With Surface Tension:

4) Woman In Science Feature- "Vomit Comet"

5) Stacked Ball Drop:

6) Calculating Pi With Darts:

7) Are Perpetual Motion Machines Possible?

8) A crystal that splits light particles:

9) How to shrink a quarter with electricity:

10) How to make a cloud in your mouth:

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