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2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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Intuitive Ontologies for Energy in Physics
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.2
  Time: 8:30 AM -8:40 AM
  Author: Rachel Scherr, Seattle Pacific University
  Co-Author(s): Sarah B. McKagan , Hunter G. Close , Matthew J. Jones
  Abstract: The nature of energy is not typically an explicit topic of physics instruction. Nonetheless, participants in physics courses that involve energy are constantly saying what kind of thing they think energy is, both verbally and nonverbally. The premise of an embodied-cognition theoretical perspective is that we understand the kinds of things that may exist in the world (ontology) in terms of sensorimotor experiences such as object permanence and movement [1]. We offer examples of intuitive ontologies for energy that we have observed in classroom contexts, including energy as a quasi-material substance; as a means of activation; as a fuel; and as an ineffable quantity which is not subject to further analysis. In the classroom, multiple and overlapping metaphors for energy complement one another in complex representations of physical phenomena. [2]
  Footnotes: [1] Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought. New York: Basic Books. [2] Gupta, A., Hammer, D., & Redish, E. F. (2010). The case for dynamic models of learners' ontologies in physics. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(3), 285-321 and Hammer, D., Gupta, A., & Redish, E. F. (2011). On static and dynamic intuitive ontologies. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(1), 163-168. Supported in part by supported in part by the National Science Foundation (DRL 0822342).
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