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Talk and Workshop Descriptions for Spring 2019

Friday Afternoon Workshops (4-7PM)

Getting Your Hands on Vernier Data Collection Equipment – Clarence Bakken

During this workshop, you will be using the current versions of Vernier physics sensors (Go Direct), learning how to employ the free Graphical Analysis 4 app for classroom data collection. A collection of labs will allow you to try the various sensors. Bring your own computing device – laptop, tablet, smartphone or Chromebook – with the latest version of Graphical Analysis 4.

PASCO Smart Carts – Ann and Jon Hanks

How much physics can you do with a PASCO Smart Cart right out of the box? Come see 8 activities that you can do with the Smart Cart with very little additional equipment. We will be giving away a Smart Cart to each of two lucky drawing winners. We’ll also show our new Ampere’s Law Apparatus and our latest wireless physics sensors. And, for those of you who may not be interested in wireless sensors, we will have some new apparatus (such as Speed of Light) and some oldie-but-goodie demos. Please join us anytime you can make it.

HotWheels Physics – Clifton Roozeboom

Dr. Clifton Roozeboom, CEO of PocketLab, will share how to combine PocketLab with HotWheels cars and tracks to teach physics at all grade-levels. These lab activities are used in the classroom from a grad-level mechanical engineering course at Stanford to 4th grade science classrooms across the country. We will cover investigations on 1-D motion, energy conservation, and Newton’s 2nd Law. Also, we will give away lab materials that you can use even without a PocketLab or any other probeware!

Saturday Invited Talks

Natasha Holmes

Why traditional labs fail (and what to do about it)

When you ask physicists to reflect on their intro labs, responses include “boring”, “forgettable”, or “cookbook.” What is so wrong with the traditional lab? In this talk, we’ll discuss research that helps illuminate the problems with traditional labs and the impacts on students. We’ll then move on to solutions: how do we restructure labs to provide better learning opportunities for our students? We’ll discuss how we measure the impact of different techniques, some tactics for using labs to teach experimentation and critical thinking skills, and some examples of restructured lab courses.

Binod Nainabasti

Role of Students’ Participation on Learning Physics in Active Learning Classes

Students’ interactions can be an influential component of students’ success in an interactive learning environment. From a participation perspective, learning is viewed in terms of how students transform their participation. However, many of the seminal papers discussing the participationist framework are vague on specific details about what student participation really looks like on a more fine-grained scale. As part of a larger project to understand the role of student participation in learning, this study has gathered data that quantified students’ participation in three broad areas of two student-centered introductory calculus-based physics classes structured around the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) philosophy.

Those three broad areas of classes were in-class learning activities, class review sessions that happened at the beginning of every class, and the informal learning community that formed outside of class time. Using video data, classroom observations, and students’ self-reported social network data, this study quantified students’ participation in these three aspects of the class throughout the two semesters. The relationship between behaviors of students’ engagement in various settings of an active learning environment and (a) their conceptual understanding (measured by FCI gain) and (b) academic success in the courses as measured by exam scores and scores on out-of-class assignments were investigated.

The results revealed that students’ interaction in the learning process have shown that three class components: the Review Session, Learning Activities, and Informal Learning Community, play distinct roles in learning. Students who come in class with better content knowledge do not necessarily participate more in the learning activities of active learning classrooms. Learning Communities serve as a “support network” for students to finish assignments and help students to pass the course. Group discussions, which are facilitated by students themselves, better help students in gaining conceptual understanding. Since patterns of students’ participation do not change significantly over time, instructors should try to ensure greater participation by incorporating different learning activities in the active learning classroom.

Saturday Afternoon Concurrent Workshops

After browsing the descriptions below please complete THIS SURVEY about so we can allocate appropriately sized rooms to each workshop. Thank you!

*Mini-EdCamp – Summer Chrisman (organizer) 4×30 minute blocks

Do the scheduled workshops happen to not be your cup of tea? This is your opportunity to direct your own alternative PD. An EdCamp is a time for self-directed collaboration between attendees around topics they themselves suggest. It’s like topic tables at lunch but super-focused around issues or problems you want to address and with the goal of producing a personally usable outcome. So what have you always wanted time to discuss/explore with your NCN-AAPT colleagues? Suggest ANY topic you want and gather with everyone else who wants to talk about it too! How about EdTech? or the new NGSS textbooks? how you grade for mastery? digital tools to make our job easier? summer programs for physics teachers? The best electromagnetism labs? But these are just my ideas; the point is what do YOU want time to talk about?  Fill out THIS SURVEY and a tentative topic list will be posted by Friday, and the final schedule posted during the meeting.

Physics through Python / GlowScript – Byron Philhour (3:00-4:00, repeated 4:00-5:00)

We have developed an online curriculum for learning to make physics simulations in the Python / GlowScript / environment. By integrating this work into our 9th grade and upper-level curricula, we allow students to build their own models and learn the fundamentals of motion and forces through coding. Check out the curriculum at or just play around with some of the simulations we’ve made at You don’t have to know anything about coding to get something out of this workshop, though you will have the best experience if you can bring a laptop with you to play around.

Lab Notebook Introductory Activity – Annie Chase (3:00-3:30)

I will guide us through a first day lab activity for labs that use notebook as opposed to reports. Students work in small groups examining excerpts from famous scientists’ lab notebooks to produce a rubric that students’ notebooks will be graded with.

Web Based Instructional Strategies – Gerardo Ramon Zuluaga (4:00-5:00)

21st Century Education must be Web-Based and Connected. Teachers should provide online multimedia resources for students to Augment the Textbook, Scaffold EL and Sp. Ed. Students, Get Early Engagement to New Material, as well as, Assess Prior Knowledge and Document Growth.

Spring Coupled Pendula – Michael McCusker (4:00-4:30)

In this short workshop we demonstrate an inexpensive, easy-to-build spring-coupled pendula apparatus for advanced high school and early college science students. We’ll use a free software application to make accurate measurements of the system performance, i.e., position, velocity, acceleration. The addition of a spring to the pendulum introduces many new features to study. This hands-on activity can motivate students to prepare for more advanced engineering and physics courses

Demonstrating Fluid Flow with LSC RoFlo Devices – Mike Trainor (4:30-5:00)

Background on streaming birefringence as a method for visualizing fluid flow with hands-on demonstration of Laminar’s new RoFlo devices

You can download the software and make measurements yourself in the workshop. We’ll provide enough information for you to build your own system. We show our data for the fundamental modes of oscillation, phase diagrams from the measurements, and, perhaps most fascinating, quantitative measurements of “beats” between the fundamental modes. We’ll show how we take measurements, analyze them, and encourage you to have your own students make similar explorations.

Please complete THIS SURVEY about which workshops your interested in so we can allocate appropriately sized rooms to each workshop. Thank you!