Entries by Dr. Courtney

An Accurate Simple Harmonic Oscillator Laboratory

Learning Objectives * Execute a specific experimental procedure to test a specific hypothesis. * Use the Tracker video analysis software for a simple experiment. * Analyze the acquired data with a spreadsheet to test the hypothesis. * Explain in one’s own words whether the experimental data supported the hypothesis, and (if so), how well. *Use…

An Accurate Hooke’s Law Laboratory

Learning Objectives * Gain confidence and experimental care in making accurate measurements. * Understand the relationship between force and spring stretch. * Use a neat and orderly lab notebook in which data are recorded. * Execute a specific experimental procedure to test a specific hypothesis. * Analyze the acquired data with a spreadsheet and graphing…

Finding Niches for Publishable Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate interest in research is a good thing; it’s even better if they aspire to publish their work for review and consideration from a broader audience.  First, we should consider what it means to be publishable. Usually, “publishable” means a paper contains a novel and interesting result in either theory or experiment that is more…

Real Research in Unexpected Places – Backyards, Barns, Bayous

21st century science labors under the myth that good experimental science requires expensive lab facilities in a university or institutional setting. We have the example of Marie and Pierre Curie discovering radium in an abandoned shed, Lavoisier’s seminal Chemistry work in his home laboratory, and Isaac Newton’s seminal work in optics in his mother’s farmhouse (Woolsthorpe…

Blaming Government for Teacher and Scientist Failures in Integrity

The article, “Governmental policy is wrecking science,” makes some interesting points but is fundamentally in error, because government policy is only a small part of the problem. Government is depending on scientists and teachers to police students and each other regarding scientific and academic integrity.  To a harmful extent, scientists and teachers are failing to…

Resources for High School Physics at Home

A year long high school Physics course is important preparation for all college majors in science, engineering, and medicine, because students in these majors will all be required to earn credit in a year long college level Physics course. Some schools, like our military academies, require every student to earn credit in a year long…

Resources for High School Math at Home

The popularity of home schooling and failures of the public schools often present the need for parents to teach or supplement college preparatory math courses at home. A common sequence is Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Pre-calculus. In many cases, the challenges of these courses is beyond what parents themselves can muster, and the…

Secrets of Successful Science Projects

Abstract Over the past few years, the author and his wife have served as teachers, qualified scientists, mentors, and/or parents on dozens of science projects assisting students ranging from elementary school projects that can be completed in a weekend to high school and college freshmen projects that take a semester or year to complete and…

Science for Love or for Money

When I look over the most highly cited papers and my favorite accomplishments, I am struck by the fact that most of the projects were not funded by an external research grant and many were not even performed while I was “on the clock” in a scientific position. I guess that makes me an amateur….