program_wb_i - page 98

Tuesday morning
Carolyn D. Sealfon, Evelyn H. Laffey, Princeton University, Council for Sci-
ence and Technology
In an effort to enhance the traditional calculus-based introductory physics
course at Princeton University, an Investigative Science Learning Environ-
ment (ISLE) inspired pilot program is under way. In the first year, two lab
sections performed ISLE-inspired labs and activities in class, while the
remaining 10 sections received traditional instruction. We strove for a ran-
dom selection of students. To assess the effectiveness of the pilot program,
we conducted focus interviews to probe how students felt about the course
and how relevant it was in their everyday lives. We chose a variety of inter-
viewees based on final first-semester grade, gender, opting in, and opting
out. In this talk, we will describe in more detail the pedagogical approach
used in the experimental sections. Using the interviews and more quantita-
tive data, we will compare student learning in the experimental sections
with the traditional sections. We will conclude with future plans.
9:20-9:30 a.m. Estimating Uncertainties Using Upper-
Lower Bounds
Contributed – Duane L. Deardorff,The University of North Carolina-Chapel
Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3255;
In our introductory physics laboratories at UNC-Chapel Hill, we have
encouraged students to use a simplified approach to propagating measure-
ment uncertainties using upper and lower bounds. In many cases, this
approach is easier and more intuitive than the more traditional method of
combining uncertainties in quadrature based on the propagation of error
equation that utilizes partial derivatives. While this latter method is gener-
ally more accurate and consistent with the ISO Guide to the Expression
of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM), the upper-lower bound method
does not require calculus and yields uncertainty values that are similar in
magnitude, especially when rounding to one significant figure. The pros
and cons of this alternative approach will be shared.
9:30-9:40 a.m. Using Student’s t-scores to Teach Mea-
surement, Uncertainty, and Experimentation Skills
Contributed – Natasha G. Holmes, University of British Columbia, Vancouver,
BC V6T 1Z1 Canada;
D A. Bonn, University of British Columbia
Many introductory physics labs ask students to conduct experiments to see
or experience physics concepts from class first hand. Students collect data
from these experiments and are expected to analyze the data to make sense
of the physics equations they’ve learned in class. In first year, however,
many of the students have little to no background in statistics. In addition,
they enter the first year lab with misconceptions about the nature of mea-
surement, uncertainty, and variability. This provides significant limitations
to engaging students with physics concepts and developing experimenta-
tion skills. In the first-year honours physics lab at UBC, we have removed
the conceptual physics learning goals from the course and replaced them
exclusively with goals for learning data analysis and measurement skills.
This year in particular, we have introduced the Student’s t-test to the course
material as a way to engage students in meaningful reflection of their re-
sults and to promote iterative experimentation. This talk will present some
of these learning goals and new teaching techniques, as well as evidence of
students’ improved skills over previous iterations of the lab.
9:40-9:50 a.m. Testing Results from Fictitious Papers
Contributed – John M. Welch, Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA 95003; jowelch@
Students can get used to looking for the “right answer” in labs and often
ask us things like “is a 15% error close enough?” We’d like to teach them
about the excitement of unexpected results and give them the skills to
recognize when an experiment is inconsistent with theory. One way to do
this is to have students try to replicate results from fake (or real) papers. In
doing so, they refine experimental technique, analyze data, and collaborate
in order to make decisions about proposed theories. Examples of these
labs, sometimes called Falsification Labs, will be presented.
9:50-10 a.m. From Open Source Electronics to Open
Lab Curricula
Contributed – Zengqiang Liu, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN
Acquiring analytical and experimental skills takes time and hands-on
practice, including exploration and making mistakes. Formal laboratory
alone is insufficient, which only averages two hours per week and is often
too scripted. To solve this problem, we need a laboratory curriculum that
emphasizes abundant supplemental hands-on, exploratory, and self-paced
laboratory activities where students acquire their skills that may be as-
sessed in formal laboratory. Supporting supplemental activities requires
unrealistic amount in lab space and off-the-shelf apparatus. We present
a viable solution: a low-cost open source electronic data acquisition plat-
form. This AAPT award-winning platform will enable students to practice
and explore physics in their own homes and at their own paces, opening
the often closed-door of formal laboratory. It will enable instructors to
design new curricula that focus on activities that build student skills. Some
activities and curriculum development ideas will be discussed.
Session DF: Stories, Replicas, & Kits
Location: Tate Lab 170
Sponsor: Committee on History and Philosophy in Physics
Co-Sponsor: Committee on the Interests of Senior Physicists
Date: Tuesday, July 29
Time: 8–9:30 a.m.
Presider: Roger Stuewer
8-8:30 a.m. Sparks and Shocks: Using Replicas of
Historical Instruments in Museum Education
Invited – David J. Rhees, The Bakken Museum, 3537 Zenith Ave., Minneapo-
lis, MN 55416;
We discuss various ways in which The Bakken Museum makes use of repli-
cas or simulations of historical instruments, experiments, and demonstra-
tions in education programs and exhibits for schools, families, and other
audiences. Collaboration in the 1980s with Prof. Samuel Devons, Barnard,
resulted in a series of institutes for high school science teachers incorporat-
ing historical simulations, also an “18th Century Electricity Kit” for middle
school. Beginning in the early 1990s, versions were successfully integrated
into field trips, then somewhat into school-based outreach in the late
1990s, studying static electricity, batteries/bioelectricity, and magnetism/
electromagnetism. “Science theater” programs such as puppet shows,
first-person interpretations (Ben Franklin, Mary Shelley), and short plays
(“War of the Currents”) also utilize historical simulations. A new exhibit,
“Ben Franklin’s Electricity Party,” uses 18th century instruments to engage
visitors. We analyze these programs’ effectiveness, historical authenticity,
comparison with programs elsewhere, and integration with historiography.
8:30-9 a.m. Scientific Instruments and Philosophical
Toys: The Blending of Science, Art, and Culture
Invited – Donald Metz, University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave., Winnipeg,
MB R3J 3C1 Canada;
Peter Heering, Flensburg University, Flensburg, Germany
The role of scientific apparatus and experimentation is well known to phys-
ics educators. Today, in modern classrooms, our students have access to a
wide range of such materials. However, historically, many scientific devices
were adapted to provide amusement in parlor games and as children’s toys.
These “philosophical toys” were intended to raise questions about natural
phenomenon and foster an understanding of new scientific principles. In
this paper, we will pull back the curtain of achievements of people like the
physicist Charles Wheatstone and suggest that many of their accomplish-
ments and stories can be used in the teaching of science, especially in terms
of the blending of art, culture, and science.
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