aapt_program_final_sm13 - page 82

Tuesday morning
Session DA:
The Physics Teacher:
Celebrating 50 Years
Location: Pavilion East
Sponsor: AAPT
Date: Tuesday, July 16
Time: 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Presider: Beth Cunningham
For a half-century
The Physics Teacher
journal has been the
go-to source for information on the art and science of physics
teaching, history and philosophy of physics, applied physics, cur-
riculum development, and lab equipment, as well as book reviews
and other monthly features. Come celebrate the 50th anniversary
of the venerable journal that we all rely on for the latest ideas,
apparatus, and methods in physics education. Five invited speak-
ers who have been closely associated with
will share their
experiences with the journal that has influenced their professional
lives, as well as how their contributions have affected the journal.
Cake will be served at a reception after the program.
Invited Speakers:
– Pamela R. Aycock
– Albert A. Bartlett
– Thomas B. Greenslade, Jr.
– James L. Hicks
– Karl C. Mamola
Session DB: Introductory Courses
Location: Parlor A/B
Sponsor: AAPT
Date: Tuesday, July 16
Time: 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.
Presider: Alan Gibson
10:30-10:40 a.m. Singing the Harmonics
Contributed – Harold T. Stokes, Brigham Young University, Department of
Physics and Astronomy, Provo, UT 84606;
When we teach students about harmonics of sound waves, we often al-
low the students to hear the harmonics. I go one step further: I sing the
harmonics. The computer projects a sound spectrum of my voice onto the
screen. The students clearly see the harmonics in the spectrum. I then sing
the pitch of each of the first eight harmonics, spanning three octaves! The
students are both enlightened and entertained.
10:40-10:50 a.m. Case Studies and Community-based
Inquiry in Introductory Physics
Contributed – Bruce Palmquist, Central Washington University, 400 E Uni-
versity Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926;
Andrew A. Piacsek, Central Washington University
Students often complain that the physics in their textbook is not relevant
in the real world. In addition, national stakeholders are concerned with
the inability of college students to think critically. The authors set out to
address both issues in their introductory physics course covering energy,
waves, and simple harmonic motion. Using the interrupted case study
approach, students were guided through papers from sports science and
biology that utilized physics principles from the course. Students iteratively
inferred and analyzed different aspects of each paper, reporting their ideas
at each step. Using a community-based inquiry project, students analyzed
sound level data from local wind turbines and shared their results with the
community. The instructors developed a Google Docs template to facilitate
the inquiry process. Case studies, templates, and rubrics will be displayed
at this presentation. Student pre- and post-test scores on a critical thinking
exam will also be shared.
10:50-11 a.m. Using Historical Case Studies in
Introductory Physics
Contributed – Debora M. Katz, United States Naval Academy, Physics
Department, Annapolis, MD 21402;
Physics derives much of its beauty and power from the process of dis-
covery. But our traditional classrooms and textbooks are dogmatic and
impersonal. We rarely tell the stories of historical discovery. I have written
historical case studies to show students how people develop and apply the
laws of physics. Case studies do the same things for physics education as
they do in legal and business education. First, case studies tap into our
natural love of stories. Second, case studies make abstract concepts more
tangible. Finally, historical case studies give insight into how physicists
think. I have written a case study based on Benjamin Franklin’s research
into electricity and his development of the lightning rod. While many
students know that Franklin flew a kite during a storm; many don’t know
that he was trying to test one of his scientific hypotheses or that he subse-
quently invented the lightning rod.
11-11:10 a.m. The Cat Twist Explanation Simplified
Contributed – J. Ronald Galli, Weber State University, 2508 University Circle,
Physics Department, Ogden, UT 84408-2508;
It is well established that cats can execute a torque-free 180-degree twist
to successfully land on their feet from an inverted position. Leg motion
is not required. Videos with various explanations are readily available
on YouTube, etc. A working mechanical model (available through www.
teachersource.com) can be observed on my website.¹ The first published
correct explanation is given in a
article.² I will give a recently devel-
oped simplified explanation that will enable each of you (or a student)
to perform the “cat twist” about a vertical axis by standing on your own
lecture turntable and swinging your hips in hula-hoop fashion, assisted by
a dumbbell weight which you swing full circle from hand to hand around
your back.
1. physics.weber.edu/galli
2. John Ronald Galli,
Phys. Teach.
, 404 (1995).
11:10-11:20 a.m. The Aether: Past and Present
Contributed – Robert A. Close, Clark College, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way,
Vancouver, WA 98663;
Nineteenth-century scientists modeled the universe as an elastic solid
“aether” in order to understand light waves. Thomas Young used the
analogy to explain light’s constant speed and polarization. Refraction was
attributed to variations in aether density in the presence of matter. James
MacCullagh assumed a “rotationally elastic” aether to derive an equa-
tion for transverse light waves. James Clerk Maxwell modeled the aether
as elastic cells interspersed with rolling particles to derive the relativistic
equations of electromagnetism. The “aether” rejected by Michelson and
Morley was a solid-fluid hybrid, similar to a mixture of cornstarch and
water. Although the aether is rarely invoked in modern times, it can still be
a useful concept in modeling the behavior of matter. We will discuss how
the simple model of an elastic solid aether may be used to explain a variety
of phenomena including special relativity, atomic spectra, Dirac wavefunc-
tions, quantum statistics, antimatter, and gravity.
11:20-11:30 a.m. Rethinking How We Teach Kepler’s
Law in the Exoplanet Age
Contributed – Kristen A. Larson, Western Washington University, Physics/As-
tronomy Department, Bellingham, WA 98229
When we teach about orbits, we usually teach Kepler’s third law as a pro-
portionality between orbital size cubed and orbital period squared. Using
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