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

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DI08:

Pulling a Spring Taut Affects Students' Talk about Wave Propagation
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.2
  Time: 9:40 AM -9:50 AM
  Author: Michael Wittmann, University of Maine
(207) 581-1237, mwittmann@maine.edu
  Co-Author(s): Evan Chase
  Abstract: Students' responses to questions about wave propagation along a taut spring indicate that many believe the effort exerted by the hand making a wavepulse affects the speed with which it moves.[1] We have previously suggested that these responses may depend on how the students imagine the physical scenario--is the hand creating a wavepulse on an already taut spring, or is the spring first pulled taut and then the wavepulse is created?[2] In the latter situation, we expect students to be more inclined to correctly think of the tension on the spring affecting the wave speed. We created two interview tasks to investigate our prediction. Evidence shows that students who pull the spring taut before creating a wavepulse do not answer questions about wave speed by discussing "the force imparted to the wave."
  Footnotes: 1. Wittmann, M.C., Steinberg, R.N., and Redish, E.F., The Physics Teacher, 37:15?21. (1999) 2. Wittmann, M.C., Proceedings of the 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2010) - Vol. 1, Full Papers, 659-666. (2010)
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