Who's on First, Physics Style

  The teaching experience:

       TA: What went on in this lab?
       Student: What do you mean?
       TA: What did you do in this lab?
       Student: Lab 3.
       TA: And what did you do in lab 3?
       Student: We measured the result.
       TA: Assume I've never seen this lab before, and you're
           going to explain it to me. What would you say?
       Student: (pause) Well, it was all about getting the slope.
       TA: The slope of what?
       Student: The slope of the plot.
       TA: I know that, but you have to assume I've never heard of
           this lab, ok? How would you explain what you did?
       Student: We got the wires and measured at each point.
       TA: Measured what?
       Student: What the meter said.
       TA: (pause) Look. Your report tells me nothing; this could be
           an experiment about baking cakes. What's this number here?
       Student: 5.
       TA: Yes I KNOW it's 5. What did it measure?
       Student: The slope. Of the line.
       TA: What line?
       Student: The line. On the plot. We measured the points and
                plotted them.
       TA: Why?
       Student: (knowing smile) Because that's what the lab said.
       TA: If I was a total stranger, how would you explain this to
       Student: You just connect it up--
       TA: Connect WHAT up?
       Student: The circuit.
       TA: Why?
       Student: I'm sorry, I don't know what you're asking.
       TA: I'm asking: what is this lab all about?
       Student: Well, we put in the wires and got 5.
       TA: 5 what?
       Student: The slope.
       TA: WHAT was it slope?
       Student: 5.
       TA: I KNOW that, but what was it a measurement of?
       Student: The meter.
       TA: (sigh) One more time -- consider me a total stranger. How
           would you explain this to me?
       Student: You just put on the wires and vary the dial until you
                get the readings.
       TA: What dial?
       Student: On the power supply.
       TA: Why was there a power supply?
       Student: Well, for the circuit.
       TA: And what readings are you talking about?
       Student: The readings in the plot.
       TA: They gave you a plot in the lab manual?
       Student: I'm sorry, I don't know what you're asking.
       TA: Where did the plot come from?
       Student: We drew it.
       TA: From what?
       Student: From the experiment.
       TA: The experiment about what?
       Student: About lab 3.
       TA: (expires)

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