“Teaching Strategies for Conceptual Physics for Freshman”
Bree Barnett Dreyfuss and Jon Brix
Amador Valley High School, Pleasanton, CA
Jon and Bree discussed several strategies for teaching freshmen Physics:
- Use hands on learning & projects
- Enforce vocabulary
- Use the GUESS (Givens, Unknown, Equation, Substitute and Solve) calculation method
- Encourage partner work
Jon and Bree discussed difficulties in teaching the class due to low math skills, special needs students, varying grade levels, etc. The class requires a variety of strategies and resources in order to keep them engaged. Additional resources will be available on Bree’s website.
“Developing Some of the Skills and Values Needed for Success in Introductory Physics”
Jeff Phillips, President of SCAAPT
Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA
Jeff discussed data that suggests that students that develop their own understanding of concepts through exploration and discussion increases their understanding. Data was collected throughout the college and analyzed to show this improvement; some data was taken from the Lawson Test. Interesting trends include students believing that they are either “smart” or “dumb” and that the method will not change that. Much of the class time has been replaced with teaching metacognitive skills and problem solving skills. Some activities involve the students determining the variables in the problems. For example, students are handed several different objects with different radii, mass, shapes, etc. to determine what affects the moment of inertia.
“The Law of Refraction in the Tenth Century”
Duygu Demirlioglu, Holy Names University, Oakland, CA
Consider a standard problem: given a light ray, incident in some direction on the flat interface between two transparent media, find the direction of the refracted ray. A straightforward and quite trivial application of Snell’s Law yields the solution. Suppose, however, that you are living a thousand years ago. All you have is a ruler—no protractor, no calculator, and no table of sines. A geometric law of refraction—found in the tenth century but largely unknown in the West—will be presented. This approach suffices to solve all the refraction problems (such as critical angle, apparent depth, and lensmaker’s formula) encountered in any physics textbook. It requires hands-on drawing, but no knowledge of trigonometry, or even much geometry; it allows students to understand the physics with very little mathematics.
“Chasing Shadows: NASA’s Kepler Mission”
Edna DeVore, SETI Institute, Mountain View, CA
An updated version of “Transit Tracks” activity where students interpret light curves to determine the period and the size of the transiting planet will be presented.