### 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
me?
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.
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
TA: What dial?
Student: On the power supply.
TA: Why was there a power supply?
Student: Well, for the circuit.