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2010 Summer Meeting

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

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Sessions and Events w/Abstracts

Date: Tuesday, August 02


Total Number of Records Found: 9


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PER: Student Reasoning II
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.02
  Time: 8:30AM - 9:50AM
  Presider: Taha Mzoughi,
  Co-Presiders(s): None
  Equipment: N/A
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Intuitive Ontologies for Energy in Physics
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.02
  Time: 8:30AM - 8:40AM
  Author: Rachel E. 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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'Productive Disciplinary Engagement' in the Context of Energy
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.02
  Time: 8:40AM - 8:50AM
  Author: Warren M. Christensen,
  Co-Author(s): Rachel E. Scherr, Hunter G Close, Sarah B McKagan, Eleanor W Close
  Abstract: The concept of "productive disciplinary engagement" [1] (PDE) provides a layered method for describing experiences in which learners are interacting with one another. The four principles of PDE align with much of the Physics Education Research community's effort in instructional design: 1) Problematizing Content, 2) Giving Students Authority, 3) Holding Students Accountable to Others and Disciplinary Norms, and 4) Providing Relevant Resources. Authentic experiences of this kind are not common in most classrooms and significant challenges arise when attempting to create them. We present examples of PDE from a summer Professional Development course on energy at Seattle Pacific University and consider both the observational criteria by which PDE is identified and the features of the instruction that contributed to making it possible.
  Footnotes: [1] Engle, R.A. and Conant, F.R. ?Guiding Principles for Fostering Productive Disciplinary Engagement: Explaining an Emergent Argument in a Community of Learners Classroom,? Cog & Inst, 20 (4) 2002. Supported in part by NSF DRL 0822342.
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Two Right Answers: The Difficulty of Reconciling Competing Physics Commitments
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.02
  Time: 8:50AM - 9:00AM
  Author: Benedikt W. Harrer, University of Maine
  Co-Author(s): Rachel E. Scherr, Michael C Wittmann, Brian W Frank, Hunter G Close
  Abstract: In group settings, we sometimes see learners commit to arguments that, although seemingly contradictory, are both correct and appropriate. Groups may have difficulties reconciling these competing commitments. In a professional development course at SPU, secondary teachers are discussing the energy flow in a refrigerator to find out how refrigerators work. While one teacher shows commitment to the idea that refrigerators move heat from a relatively cold compartment to a hotter environment, two others appear committed to the second law of thermodynamics which states that heat flows from hot to cold. Video records of the discussion show that the teachers recognize the disparity of their commitments but do not spontaneously reconcile the contradiction. Our analysis shows why all group members are right to believe in their respective commitments, points out difficulties they have reconciling the contradicting commitments, and explores possible causes for these difficulties.
  Footnotes: Supported in part by NSF DRL 0822342.
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Understanding Forms of Energy through Testing Novel Cases
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.02
  Time: 9:00AM - 9:10AM
  Author: Stamatis Vokos, Seattle Pacific University
  Co-Author(s): Warren Christensen, Eleanor Close, Sarah McKagan, Rachel Scherr and Lane Seeley
  Abstract: National and state standards often list forms of energy that students should know, including gravitational, kinetic, potential, etc. Form can be a useful shorthand for describing the state of the system, or it can be a meaningless label to be memorized. Most physics instruction does not emphasize a deep understanding of the physical meaning of form. Are there ways that our instruction could more effectively help students gain an understanding of form? One way to develop and test understanding of forms of energy is to ask the question, "What must be considered when deciding whether a new form is legitimate?" We present case studies of students struggling with the legitimacy of forms of energy not listed in the standards, some of which they deem to be legitimate and some of which they do not. Finally, we suggest instructional methods to take advantage of this struggle.
  Footnotes: Supported in part by NSF DRL 0822342
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Conservation of Energy vs. Conservation of Value in Energy
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.02
  Time: 9:10AM - 9:20AM
  Author: Sarah McKagan, McKagan Enterprises
  Co-Author(s): Lezlie DeWater, Rachel Scherr, Lane Seeley, Stamatis Vokos
  Abstract: When teaching about energy in physics class, an important learning goal for students is an understanding of conservation of energy. Outside of physics class, the word "conservation" is often used with an entirely different meaning: In the real world, we care about "conserving" a finite and expendable resource. This resource is often referred to as "energy," but in the more precise language of physics we would call it "useful energy" or "value" in energy. We present results from a collaboration in which SPU visual communication majors, after extensive discussions with members of the physics department, produced posters to depict various energy concepts and to communicate their understanding. Many of these posters explicitly highlight the distinction between "energy" and "value," Illustrating how nonscientists struggle with this issue. We discuss how this struggle may play out for students in physics classes, and suggest a method for redirecting students' useful intuitions about value.
  Footnotes: Supported in part by NSF DRL 0822342
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Interpretations of P.E. Diagrams by Introductory Students while Learning QM
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.02
  Time: 9:20AM - 9:30AM
  Author: Brian M. Stephanik, University of Washington
(253) 678-5941,
  Co-Author(s): Peter S. Shaffer, Lillian C McDermott
  Abstract: In order for students to relate quantum and classical mechanics they must have a sufficiently strong foundation of some basic concepts in classical physics. We have found that students in introductory courses who are learning quantum mechanics sometimes struggle with these classical concepts in ways that can inhibit their ability to connect these two regimes. Examples of our findings in the context of potential energy diagrams, as well as preliminary attempts to address student difficulties, will be presented.
  Footnotes: None
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Characterizing Student and Teacher Descriptions of Pressure*
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.02
  Time: 9:30AM - 9:40AM
  Author: Amy D. Robertson, University of Washington
  Co-Author(s): Peter S. Shaffer, Lillian C McDermott
  Abstract: A basic assumption of kinetic-molecular theory is that the pressure of a gas is generated by collisions of gas particles with the walls of the container. This assumption is often used to derive an expression that relates the pressure of a gas to the kinetic energy of the gas particles and ultimately connects the microscopic model for pressure to the ideal gas law. In a series of questions that were developed to elicit microscopic descriptions of pressure, student and teacher explanations revealed a variety of macroscopic and microscopic descriptions of pressure that had no obvious connection to collisions of gas particles with the container walls. Examples will be presented, together with a brief discussion of possible implications for instruction in physics and chemistry courses.
  Footnotes: *This work has been supported under a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
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Pulling a Spring Taut Affects Students' Talk about Wave Propagation
  Location: HC 3023 & 3023A
  Date: Tuesday, Aug.02
  Time: 9:40AM - 9:50AM
  Author: Michael C. Wittmann, University of Maine
(207) 581-1237,
  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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