aapt_program_final_sm13 - page 109

July 13–17, 2013
Wednesday morning
simulations, on grids of 10,000 to 100,000 sites, now run fast enough on
personal computers for students to immediately see the effects of viscosity,
flow speed, and obstacle shapes and sizes. While low Reynolds numbers
result in stable, laminar flow, it is also easy to observe instability and
vortex shedding at somewhat higher Reynolds numbers. Using a simple
lattice-Boltzmann algorithm, students in an introductory computational
physics course can code their own fluid simulations in C, Java, JavaScript,
or Python. This algorithm can be derived directly from the Boltzmann
distribution of statistical mechanics, without reference to the Navier-Stokes
PST2D03: 8:30-9:15 a.m. High-Performance Computing System
at Community and Liberal Arts Colleges
Poster – Tae Song Lee, Community College of Allegheny County-South Cam-
pus, 1750 Clairton Road, West Mifflin, PA 15122-3029;
Carlos D. Taylor, Aaron Anthony, Community College of Allegheny County
We investigate possibility of a high performance computing (HPC) system
at Community and Liberal Arts College settings (Adams & Vos 2002; Ad-
ams & Brom 2008). HPC systems are used in many scientific, engineering,
and even business related applications. As a teaching orientated institution,
fairly low cost high-end computer servers might bring great attentions
from school executives and students simultaneously. For our first attempt,
a five-server cluster with 40 core xenon processors connected via a gigabit
switch is constructed under a second-hand purchase to overcome financial
obstacles at a community college. We test its performance with an adaptive
mesh refinement (AMR), grid-based hybrid code known as ENZO from
the University of California, San Diego.
PST2D04: 9:15-10 a.m. Implementation of an Introductory
Physics MOOC with Video Lab Reports
Poster – Scott S. Douglas, Georgia Institute of Technology, 837 State St.
Atlanta, GA 30332;
John M. Aiken, Georgia State University
Shih-Yin Lin, Michael F. Schatz, Georgia Institute of Technology
Marcos D. Caballero, University of Colorado, Boulder
In this talk, we describe the implementation of an introductory physics
Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) through Coursera which incor-
porates computational modeling, peer review, and laboratory exercises.
We place special emphasis on the laboratory exercises, in which students
capture video of real-world objects with their smartphones, then analyze the
motion of these objects with the open-source program Tracker. Following
their video experiments, students create computational models in VPython
of the phenomena they captured on video, then compare their models to
their observations in a manner consistent with the way expert scientists use
computational models. Finally, students create and submit video lab reports
in which they describe their video-capture experiment, the physical model
they are exploring, their computational implementation of that model, and
how each of these things relates to the others. Students then rate their peers’
video lab reports in terms of the quality of the physics content.
PST2D05: 8:30-9:15 a.m. Introducing PhET Simulations’ New
Teaching Portal*
Poster – Stephanie V. Chasteen, University of Colorado, Boulder, UCB 390,
Boulder, CO 80309;
Sarah B. McKagan, McKagan Enterprises
Ariel Paul, Katherine K. Perkins, University of Colorado, Boulder
The PhET Interactive Simulations project at University of Colorado is em-
barking on development of an extensive new portal to the website, geared
specifically at teachers. The new website will enable teachers to modify and
share lesson plans, to connect with other PhET users, to explore different
ways of using the simulations in the classroom, and to learn more about
research-based strategies for simulation use. Stop by the poster to find out
about progress on the website, share feedback, and maybe even test-drive a
beta version!
*You can find our free interactive simulations at
PST2D06: 9:15-10 a.m. Progress in Easy-to-Use 3D
Programming Environments
Poster – Bruce A. Sherwood, North Carolina State University, 515 E
Coronado Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505-0346;
Steve Spicklemire, University of Indianapolis
VPython (vpython.org), a free open-source module for the popular Python
programming language, lets even novice programmers write programs that
model physical systems and generate navigable real-time 3D animations.
VPython plays an important role in several recent computational physics
textbooks. At matterandinteractions.org are many lecture demo programs
written in VPython. There are about 50,000 downloads of VPython per
year, including by thousands of students in intro physics courses. In Janu-
ary 2013 VPython 6 was released, based on the cross-platform GUI library
wxPython, which has made it possible for VPython animations to share a
window with standard widgets (buttons, sliders, scrolling text boxes, etc.).
VPython is quite mature; GlowScript (glowscript.org) is a related but very
new environment under development that executes programs written in
JavaScript or CoffeeScript in a browser. There are converters that facilitate
translation from VPython to GlowScript. VPython and GlowScript will be
demonstrated at the poster session.
PST2D07: 8:30-9:15 a.m. Randomness and Structure 1:
Introductory-level Conceptual Framework for
Biological Materials
Poster – Edit Yerushalmi, Weizmann Institute of Science, 234 Herzl St.,
Rehovot, 76100 Israel;
Elon Langbeheim, Shelly Livne, Samuel Safran, Weizmann Institute of
Explaining the spontaneous formation of molecules into mesoscopic
(nanometric) or even micron-sized structures that are important in
biological materials (i.e. membranes, polymers, colloids), requires an un-
derstanding of cooperative behavior in interacting multi-particle systems.
We present a conceptual framework for treating these phenomena with
introductory-level students, which was tested in a pilot interdisciplinary
course entitled “Soft and messy matter.” We first discuss the competition
of configurational entropy (that promotes randomness) and interparticle
interactions (that promote order) in terms of a lattice model in the context
of binary mixtures. The lattice model, allowing for concrete visualization,
is later used to model the phase behavior of fluid mixtures, wetting, and
self-assembly of surfactants via free-energy minimization. This approach
can be incorporated into restructured introductory physics courses for life
sciences, allowing students to understand how the competition between
interactions and entropy is resolved to determine how molecules self-
organize to form mesoscopic structures.
PST2D08: 9:15-10 a.m. Randomness and Structure 2:
Computational Modeling of Interacting Multiparticle
Poster – Ruth Chabay, NC State University, 515 E. Coronado Road, Santa
Fe, NM 87505;
Nava Schulman, Edit Yerushalmi, Weizmann Institute of Science
The concepts of entropy and equilibrium are central to the understand-
ing of the spontaneous formation of structure in soft matter systems such
as membranes. We are developing a suite of computational modeling
tools with a strong visual component to support the development of these
concepts by students in an introductory level course on soft matter. In the
context of the lattice gas model, which is commonly used in the analyti-
cal treatment of such systems, students can explore the consequences of
random motion, observe the dynamics of the approach to equilibrium,
monitor bulk properties of the system, and observe that interparticle
interactions are required for the spontaneous formation of mesoscale
structures. These tools can be extended to allow students to do significant
computational modeling projects by the end of the course. They provide, as
well, a stimulus for discussion about the nature of scientific models.
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