Please share comments & files for teaching modern physics topics.

Here is a short handout with some important milestones in the development of the quantum theory from Planck through Bohr to deBroglie.
Notes by David Derbes. Thanks.

This zipped folder includes files onPlank and BlackBody Radiation; Stefan Boltzmann Law; The Particle in Box; The Harmonic Oscillator In Quantum Mechanics; Feynman's Derivation of the Schroediner equation; George Gamow's Treatment of Alpha Decay; Hydrogen Atoms in Quantum Mechanics.

Modern Physics Notes: Notes supplied by Wayne Mullins. He must be a legend by now. Wayne's (now somewhat old) notes can be accessed at

Photoelectric Effect Simulation Lab: This simulation labs works with the PhET photoelectric effect simulation.

Photoelectric Effect Aparatus: St Louis Area Physics Teachers website has directions to build a low-cost Photoelectric effect device:

Wave/Particle Duality Sign: Clever sign that shows wave particle duality. I will ask a student from each location to read what they see when looking at my 8.5x11 sign on the wall. When seen from across the room students see it read "WAVE!". Up close, they can see it reads "Particle!". I did this for several years until I noticed the duality of the exclamation mark! I wish I knew who created this.

The Physics Suite Online!! line:
  • I believe this is produced by Dr Redish. The online site includes free resources pre-tests, worksheets, and links to software (software links are active, the pretests and handouts are not active yet).
Intuitive Quantum Physics
  • from Dr Whittmann (U Maine) and Dr Morgan (U Northern Iowa).
  • The PDF link:
  • The Word doc:
  • inspired by Tutorials in Introductory Physics, L.C. McDermott, P.S. Shaffer, and the Physics Education Group at the U. of Washington (Prentice Hall, 2002 Activity-Based Tutorials, M.C. Wittmann, R.N. Steinberg, E.F. Redish, and the University of Maryland Physics Education Research Group (Wiley, 2004 and 2005) Learning How to Learn Science: Physics for Bioscience Majors, Redish, E. F., Hammer, D., & Elby, A. (NSF grant REC008-7519, 2001-2003)

Particle Accelerator Data:

Spacetime Simulator:

New! Video showing step-by-step how to make and put together a spacetime simulator:

And the viral video of how to use it with your students:

Some pictures and a parts list for constructing your own class-size spacetime simulator. Stretch a sheet of lycra over a drum shape made out of PVC and electrical conduit. Put a 2kg mass in the middle and roll marbles to show orbits. Put 2 large metal spheres on it and they will slowly attract. Put a large marble rolling with a smaller one next to it and it will orbit the larger marble mimicking the Earth-Moon system. Throw a handful of marbles going one way and a slightly larger handful going the other. They collide and fall in, leaving most of the survivors all going in the same direction, just like the formation of the solar system. Put 2, 2kg masses apart from each other and try and get a marble to do a figure 8 orbit around them both. Have a pole stick up from below creating a force of repulsion and you have Dark Energy. Thanks to Shannon Range from Stanford's Gravity Probe B program for coming to my classroom and showing my students this great tool for exploring General Relativity. - Dan Burns

Steve Kavanagh at Cairns State High School in Australia made a larger spacetime simulator with a unique design. Steve also came up with some great ideas for classroom use. Here are some pictures of his spacetime simulator and his teacher guide for use. If you have trouble viewing his pictures, try turning your monitor upside down!


Pole and Barn Paradox PowerPoint Slides and Movies: This is my favorite Special Relativity paradox. It will blow your student's minds. A runner traveling at 0.87c with a 20 m long pole runs through a 10 m long barn. To the barn FOR the pole shrinks and the barn doors can be closed for an instant with the ole completely inside. From the runner's frame of reference the barn contracts to 5 m and the pole can NOT fit with both doors closed! How is this resolved? You can use the slides and associated videos to go though this mind-bender with an added twist at the end. The videos were made from the sadly orphaned Mac program RelLab. You can watch my explanation on the Youtube video:

- Dan Burns