AAPT Abstract Archive

Abstract Information

  Session: Effective Practices in Educational Technologies
  Paper Type: Contributed
  Title: Using Python and pdfLaTex to Generate Customized Physics Problems
  Meeting: 2016 Winter Meeting: New Orleans, Louisiana
  Location: N/A
  Time: 5:00PM
  Author: William G. Nettles, Union University
731-661-6588, bnettles@uu.edu
  Co-Author(s): Geoffrey M. Poore
  Abstract: Physics teaching routinely utilizes drill problems to teach physics concepts, problem-solving skills, and mathematical techniques. Answers for end-of-chapter problems are being published and accessed by students. Generating new initial conditions and their answers for individual students is laborious. pdfLaTeX is a free typesetting system and PythonTex is a package that allows a pdfLaTeX document to execute code in Python and then typeset output from the code under user control. Using random numbers, we generate randomized initial conditions for standard physics problems and present these problems in typeset form. We also program Python to generate the answers and write them, along with a student name, to a file; we don’t need to hand-calculate each student’s answer. A custom Python class and a custom script automatically handle batch generation of problems for students. One or several student(s) can have multiple instances of a standard problem, each instance with a different answer. Emphasis can be placed on conceptual understanding of the problem. This approach also enhances peer instruction.
  Footnotes: Geoffrey M Poore, PythonTeX: reproducible documents with LaTeX, Python, and more , Computational Science & Discovery 8 (2015) 014010
  Presentation: AAPTpaper_CI07_Nettles.pdf

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