program_wb_i - page 75

July 26–30, 2014
Monday afternoon
volunteer students were interviewed about their understanding in the
course. This research was supported by a US National Science Foundation
CAREER Grant (EAR-0955750).
4:50-5 p.m. Creating Novel Microscopes in an Optics
Contributed – Dyan Jones, Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA 16505;
Shauna Novobilsky, Rebecca Wheeling, Mercyhurst University
Over the past two years we have been developing a non-traditional upper
division optics course. The course is non-traditional for two reasons. First,
the primary constituents are not physics majors, but life science students.
Second, it expands the concept of Studio optics to include project-based
learning that focuses on the students’ creation of novel microscopes. This
talk will be a report on the first full implementation of the course and will
highlight the optical systems the students created as well as their biological
5-5:10 p.m. Using an LED as a Single Photon
Avalanche Diode
Contributed – Lowell McCann, University of Wisconsin - River Falls, 410 S.
3rd St., River Falls, WI 54022;
The rising popularity of single photon experiments in undergraduate
laboratories and Quantum Mechanics courses is giving more students an
exposure to the detection methods and statistics involved in these types of
investigations. However, the relatively high cost and high sensitivity of the
Single Photon Avalanche Photodiodes (SPAD) used to detect the photons
in these experiments can make faculty wary of letting students “play” with
the detectors to investigate their behavior. In this talk, I will discuss the use
of light emitting diodes (LED) as very inexpensive (and inefficient) SPADs
that students can investigate without fear. The LED SPADs present a very
rich parameter space for students to explore, and provide a wonderful ap-
plication of their knowledge of electronics.
5:10-5:20 p.m. An Advanced Laboratory in Alpha- and
Beta Spectroscopy II*
Contributed – Frederick D. Becchetti, University of Michigan, Physics Depart-
ment, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1040;
Ramon Torres-Isea, Michael Febbraro, Jay Riggins, University of Michigan
As part of a planned upgrade to our intermediate and advanced physics
laboratory sequence, we have developed a low-cost, compact multi-func-
tional apparatus for experiments in alpha- and beta-spectroscopy using
multiple setups. As previously shown (Winter 2013 AAPT meeting, paper
ABO6) it has provisions for a novel ring-magnet that is utilized as a high-
efficiency beta spectrometer to demonstrate relativistic effects for energetic
beta particles. The same device, w/o magnet as we will show, can be used
for experiments in alpha-particle spectroscopy and Rutherford scattering.
In particular, the use of the moveable silicon detector can provide detailed
data on the energy loss and straggling of alpha particles in matter and the
resulting sharp Bragg curve at the end of the range. The latter e.g. is a key
feature in the use of ion beams in radiation oncology to target and kill
cancer tumors with minimal collateral radiation.
*Work supported in part by NSF Grant PHY 0969456 and NSF REU program.
5:20-5:30 p.m. Angular Distribution of Na22 Decay
Coincidence Measurements: Novel Results
Contributed – Thomas M. Huber, Gustavus Adolphus College, 800 West Col-
lege Ave. St Peter, MN 56082;
Spencer Batalden, Ross Breckner, Gustavus Adolphus College
A common advanced laboratory experiment in nuclear physics involves
using a pair of gamma detectors to measure the decay products from Na22.
Because Na22 decays by positron emission, the decay signature involves
a pair of back-to-back 511 keV gammas from the positron annihilation,
along with a 1275 keV gamma. The energy and angular distribution of
decay gammas can be determined using a NIM coincidence trigger circuit
and multichannel analyzer monitoring a pair of NaI(Tl) detectors mounted
to a goniometer table. We will describe how accidental pile-up in the
detectors leads to somewhat unexpected artifacts in the measured angular
distributions and energy spectra. We also will describe a simple geometric
model that can be compared to the experimental angular distribution to
determine the effective diameter of the NaI(Tl) detectors. These obser-
vations significantly enhance the pedagogical value of this traditional
advanced laboratory experiment.
5:30-5:40 p.m. It’s (Not) Rocket Science: Undergraduate
Contributed – Alan G. Grafe, University of Michigan-Flint, 303 E. Kearsley St.,
Flint, MI 48502-1950;
An error in the rocket problem (Chapter 1, Exercise 13) in the third edition
of Goldstein’s graduate Classical Mechanics text is used as a case study for
the use of computational research tools such as Mathematica in under-
graduate Classical Mechanics courses. We will see that this computational
tool allows for a much deeper exploration of the physics of the situation in
a manner that is accessible to undergraduate students.
Session CJ: Using Games to Teach
Location: STSS 114
Sponsor: Committee on Physics in High Schools
Date: Monday, July 28
Time: 4–4:40 p.m.
Presider: Diane Riendeau
4-4:10 p.m. Review Games to Strengthen Skills and Add
Contributed – Elisa Cardnell, Carnegie Vanguard High School, Houston, TX
Darilyn Krieger, Carnegie Vanguard High School
At the end of each unit, it is necessary to synthesize the material and apply
it to problems. We discovered that a competition (even in which it was
possible for all students to “win”) was effective at engaging all students in
putting together vocabulary, simple problem solving, units and theorems.
However, some students are great at learning concepts, but struggle with
applying the necessary equations to word problems. We developed a sec-
ond review game that has students match multi-step physics problems with
an assortment of equations in order to review the unit material and prepare
for the unit exam.
4:10-4:20 p.m. Using “Power Grid” in a First Year
Contributed – Jack A. Dostal, Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC
The strategy-based board game Power Grid demonstrates political, eco-
nomic, and physical issues relevant to power generation and transmission.
It is used in a First Year Seminar entitled Power and the U.S. Electrical
Grid in which students learn about and discuss the interplay among these
competing interests. The seminar is open to incoming freshmen of all
backgrounds, but is commonly populated by prospective science and busi-
ness/finance majors. The game opens up an avenue to discuss the physics
behind power generation, energy density of natural resources, transmission
wire power loss, and many other physics concepts. Gameplay mechanics
and related activities will be presented.
4:20-4:30 p.m. Teaching Physics in a Tap-Happy World
Contributed – Matthew A. Blackman, The Universe and More, 37 Hill St., Mor-
ristown, NJ 07960;
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