AAPT Abstract Archive

Abstract Information

  Session: Computer Modeling and Simulation in Sustainability Courses
  Paper Type: Panel
  Title: Computer Modeling in the Environmental Physics Course
  Meeting: 2016 Summer Meeting: Sacremento, California
  Location: N/A
  Time: 8:30AM
  Author: Tara Peppard
Department of Physics, Cleveland State University
20166872076, t.peppard@csuohio.edu
  Co-Author(s): Miron Kaufman
  Abstract: Since 1996 we have been offering at Cleveland State University a course entitled Environmental Physics. The goal of the course is to teach the physical laws underlying environmental and sustainability issues. The students have a variety of backgrounds: ranging from physics and engineering to urban studies, law and education. The students learn to work in interdisciplinary groups. The course is, by necessity, algebra-based. To compensate, we use computer modeling extensively. It enhances the understanding of phenomena through visualizations, and it teaches students useful skills such as data analysis. For example, the students are exposed to chaos theory by analyzing the period-doubling route to chaos prevalent in population models. The diffusion of pollutants in the atmosphere and radioactive decay are taught through Monte-Carlo simulations. The Brunt-Väisälä oscillations are modeled and the stability of the atmosphere is discussed. Simulations are also performed on models of consumption such as the Hubbert model, to illustrate aspects of sustainability.
  Footnotes: None
  Presentation: sacramento_16.pptx

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