aapt_program_final_sm13 - page 48

Monday morning
allows students to explore the plausibility of the ergodic principle and the
meaning of entropy by displaying systems evolving in time versus their
corresponding sets of microstates; another tool provides insights into the
crucial role of the Boltzmann factor in determining the behavior of multi
particle systems by explicitly tracking the mechanism of the Metropolis
algorithm. We integrate these tools in an introductory-level course on
soft and biological materials, where the understanding of the spontaneous
formation of structures such as polymers, colloidal dispersions and mem-
branes, is grounded in statistical thermodynamics descriptions of matter.
8:40-8:50 a.m. Research on a Laboratory Curriculum
for NEXUS/Physics
Contributed – Kimberly A. Moore, University of Maryland, College Park,
(PERG) 6525 Roosevelt St., Falls Church, VA 22043; MoorePhysics@gmail.
John Giannini, Wolfgang Losert, University of Marlyand, College Park (Bio-
Ben Geller, Vashti Sawtelle, University of Marlyand, College Park (PERG)
In 2012-2013, the UMD PERG and Biophysics Program implemented
a new laboratory curriculum for its introductory physics for biologists
course in a pair of small test classes. These labs address physical issues at
biological scales using microscopy, image, and video analysis, electropho-
resis, and spectroscopy in an open, non-protocol-driven environment. We
have collected a wealth of data (surveys, video analysis, etc.) that enables us
to get a sense of the students’ responses to this new approach, with a focus
on: 1) the ways in which students see these labs as engaging the biology/
chemistry concepts; and, 2) the student reaction and adaptation to the
combination of “open-ended” labs with complex, technical equipment. In
this talk, we will give a brief overview of what we have learned. (This work
is part of the UMD PERG NEXUS/Physics and is supported by funding
from HHMI and the NSF.)
8:50-9 a.m. Teaching Introductory Physics of Modern
Medicine to Non-Science Majors
Contributed – Fang Liu, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, 101
Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway, NJ 08205-9441;
Medical Technology is a general studies course developed for non-science
majors in the general natural sciences and mathematics (GNM) portion of
the General Education curriculum at the Richard Stockton College of New
Jersey. In this course the students are introduced to the topics of optics
and endoscopes, lasers in medicine, ultrasound in medicine, x-ray & CT,
gamma camera, radiation therapy and radiation safety, etc. In this paper
I will present a brief overview of the curriculum development with an
emphasis on the teaching and learning strategies employed in the course.
Student perceptions regarding the course will also be presented.
9-9:10 a.m. Negative Energy: Why Interdisciplinary
Physics Requires Blended Ontologies
Contributed – Benjamin W. Dreyfus, University of Maryland, Department of
Physics, 082 Regents Drive, College Park, MD 20742;
Benjamin D. Geller, Vashti Sawtelle, Chandra Turpen, Edward F. Redish,
University of Maryland, College Park
Much recent work in physics education research has focused on ontologi-
cal metaphors for energy (metaphors for what type of thing energy “is”),
particularly the substance ontology and its pedagogical affordances. The
concept of negative energy problematizes the substance ontology for
energy (because there cannot be a negative amount of a substance), but
in many instructional settings, the specific difficulties around negative
energy are outweighed by the general advantages of the substance ontology.
However, we claim that our interdisciplinary setting (an undergraduate
physics class that builds deep connections to biology and chemistry) leads
to a different set of considerations and conclusions. In a course designed to
draw interdisciplinary connections, the centrality of chemical bond energy
in biology necessitates foregrounding negative energy from the begin-
ning. We argue that the emphasis on negative energy requires a blend of
substance and location ontologies. The location ontology enables energies
both “above” and “below” zero.
9:10-9:20 a.m. Modeling Fluid Statics to Help Students
Understand Fluid Dynamics*
Contributed – James Vesenka, University of New England, 11 Hills Beach
Road, Biddeford, ME 04005;
Katherine Misaiko, Elizabeth Whitmore, University of New England
The UNE PERG is investigating life science student preconceptions about
fluid dynamics, specifically understanding the Bernoulli Principle (BP). We
have identified important scaffolding content and laboratory interventions
that improve student success at understanding BP. The key scaffold element
appears to be a sound understanding of kinetic theory including the ability
to model fluids as multiple interacting particles. A new modeling centered
laboratory on ideal gasses with conceptually rich diagrammatic tools has
been deployed. A tactile life science lab activity is currently being evaluated
in order to help students address the paradox of high blood pressure and
pressure drop within a restriction, e.g. a blocked blood vessel. Complicat-
ing effective instructional efforts are numerous incorrect applications of
the BP found in many physics texts. The range of practical problems that
BP is applicable to is narrow and frequently BP is employed when other
dynamic processes are more important.
*Supported by NSF grant DUE 1044154
9:20-9:30 a.m. Like Dissolves Like: Unpacking Student
Reasoning about Thermodynamic Heuristics*
Contributed – Benjamin D. Geller, University of Maryland, Department of
Physics, College Park, MD 20742;
Benjamin W. Dreyfus, Vashti Sawtelle, Chandra Turpen, Edward F. Redish,
University of Maryland, College Park
In our Physics for Biologists course at the University of Maryland, we are
attempting to build interdisciplinary bridges that help students under-
stand thermodynamics better. One aspect of this endeavor involves having
students grapple with the physical processes underlying heuristics that they
bring to our course from their biology and chemistry classes. In particular,
we have implemented a series of activities and problems intended to un-
pack the hydrophobicity of oil, a key step in understanding the formation
of cell membranes. Student reasoning about this process illustrates the
challenges we encounter in trying to bridge physics and biochemistry cur-
ricula. Understanding the spontaneous separation of oil and water requires
careful consideration of the sometimes competing effects of energy and
entropy. Reconciling disciplinary distinctions in how these ideas are de-
scribed is an important step in helping our students develop more coherent
thermodynamics concepts.
*Supported by the NSF-TUES DUE 11-22818, and the HHMI NEXUS grant.
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