college

The Make-Believe World of Real-World Physics (Eric Mazur)

July 26, 2008

[[AAPT Millikan Lecture: Eric Mazur]] Eric Mazur (Harvard) was awarded the Millikan prize this year, and this blog post is a detailed account of the marvelous keynote lecture he gave for the occasion. You can download the entire presentation on his website, and I recommend that you do so, because, well, it was marvelous! The […]

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Is Pluto further away than the stars?

July 26, 2008

I’ve just posted a new episode of my Science Teaching Tips podcast — Which is Closest? Which is farthest away from the earth, the stars or Pluto? The answer may be obvious to you, but a lot of people get this wrong.  Here’s the task — arrange these in the order from closest to furthest […]

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Twisting the Ivory Tower (OR Change in university physics )

July 25, 2008

[[AAPT Session: Transforming University Physics Departments]] This (VERY LONG) post is primarily for college teachers. Many of us are questioning whether the way we teach science at the university level is the best way to do it. Do we really want to perpetuate the current system, which rewards students who can perform abstract calculations with […]

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Talk to your students (OR giving up power in the classroom)

July 24, 2008

[[PERC Talk, Fostering science learning in diverse urban settings, Kenneth Tobin, CUNY]] Dr.Tobin told us the story of when he plunged into a challenging experiment – to teach high school physics in urban Philadelphia. It was, needless to say, a challenge. He was an older white Australian, in a classroom with at-risk African American youth. […]

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Performance in large lecture classes

July 22, 2008

[[AAPT Session:  Performance in large lecture courses, Brian Jones, Colorado State]] If you’ve got a large lecture class (or, really, any size class) — like it or not, you’re a performer.  In this session, one lecturer gave several of his tips for injecting some theater into his classes in order to engage students and pique […]

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Novel ways to ask physics questions

July 22, 2008

[[AAPT Sesson:  Text editing, problem posing, and jeopardy tasks in introductory physics, Fran Mateycik]] I heard a couple neat ideas at a talk on some different ways to pose physics questions. Jeopardy Students are given a part of a problem and then asked to come up with the problem statement.  For example, F = m(hull)*g […]

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Easing the transition to upper-level college physics courses

July 22, 2008

[[AAPT Session:  Easing the transition to upper level E&M, Corinne Manogue and Improving the Teaching and Learning of Upper-Division E&M, Chandralekeh Singh]] This post is primarily of interest for college faculty. There have been a wealth of good discussions at this conference about how to work on making changes to upper-division or middle-division college courses.  […]

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How do you react to student answers in class?

July 22, 2008

[[AAPT Session:  Effects of variation of faculty practice on student perceptions, Chandra Turpen]] Many faculty and high school teachers use some form of peer instruction or student response system (like clickers) as promoted by Eric Mazur, but they’re used in a huge variety of ways in the classroom.  This has a sizeable impact on their […]

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Physics in the virtual world

July 22, 2008

[[AAPT Session: Study of Computer Simulations — Interface design for engagement, learning and assessment, Wendy Adams]] You know, when I first arrived at the University of Colorado, everyone was talking about these PhET Simulations that showed virtual versions of real physics phenomena, and I was really skeptical. Why simulate physics when you can go out […]

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How do we think about physics problems?

July 22, 2008

[[SESSION: SYMBOLIC CALCULATORS AFFECT EPISTEMIC FRAMING, TOM BING]] This post is primarily for college teachers, but K-12 educators might get something from it too. This researcher (Tom Bing… here’s his dissertation) has done some very interesting work on the paths that students take as they solve physics problem. He gave one particular example of students […]

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How do we teach our physics majors?

July 22, 2008

[[AAPT SESSION: TRANSFORMING UPPER-DIVISION E&M I]] This post is primarily for college physics teachers. Hey, if you’re ever presiding over a conference session, here’s a tip for you. If one of your presenters has technical issues, don’t give her a hard time after the talk is over, even in jest, about having gone over time. […]

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Tutorials in Upper-division Mechanics

July 21, 2008

[[AAPT Session: Tutorials in Upper-division Mechanics]] This post is mostly directed towards college teachers. I just went to a session with Brad Ambrose from Grand Valley State University (in Michigan). Along with Michael Wittman from U. Maine, he’s developed tutorials for teaching college-level mechanics. All his materials can be downloaded at http://perlnet.umaine.edu/imt/index.html. Tutorials are a […]

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Make ’em predict it… REALLY predict it.

July 20, 2008

[[AAPT SESSION: BEYOND PIAGET]] This will be the last post from the (incredibly thought provoking) session on Piaget. This is about the value of having your students predict what will happen in an experiment or demonstration in order to have them change their ideas about the world. For example, there’s a wonderful little demonstration/experiment about […]

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It’s "just a theory"

July 19, 2008

[[AAPT SESSION: BEYOND PIAGET]] One problem or question that I have about emphasizing that the explanations we give for phenomena are our own inventions is that we also want students to have some faith in the products of science (the traditional “content” of science) because its based on such a wealth of past experiment. Let […]

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The folk theory of physics teaching

July 19, 2008

[[AAPT SESSION: BEYOND PIAGET]] Why do we teach physics? I’m in a workshop today (run by Dewey Dykstra) about how people change their ideas about the world (I’m going to try not to use phrases like “cognitive framework.”) What do we want our students to know and see? For many years, there has been a […]

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