program_wb_i - page 52

Monday morning
9:-9:30 a.m. From Replicating Eratosthenes to
Cavendish – A Capstone Project for All
Invited – Robert Hobbs, Bellevue College, Bellevue, WA 98007; rhobbs@
For nearly 30 years Bellevue College has employed a capstone lab project
in the last quarter of the first year calculus-based physics sequence. This
assignment can provide many of the attributes of an undergraduate
research experience and may be scalable/adaptable to a variety of institu-
tions. Students confront design, fabrication, and measurement issues
around an experimental question not addressed by labs in any part of the
rest of the sequence. The current assignment requires them to improve
the experiment informed by an analysis of preliminary results. Students
must present their results to their peers accompanied by artifacts from
the experiment. These artifacts often become part of our lecture demon-
stration equipment collection. Students perform part of the assessment
of both their own teammates and other teams. History, our motivation,
assessment, resource requirements—both material and human, benefits,
and problems will be addressed in the talk. See
9:30-10 a.m. Undergraduate Research Projects in UK
Invited – Ross K. Galloway, University of Edinburgh, School of Physics and
Astronomy, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH9 3JZ, UK;
Essentially all undergraduate physics degree programs in the UK require
every student to complete a substantial research project, usually in the
final year of the program. Students typically conduct this project while
embedded within one of the physics research groups of their institutions.
Project lengths vary but usually encompass 200-600 hours of work, and
there is an expectation that the project should feature original research.
I will discuss the nature of these research projects, highlighting features
such as project topic allocation, pre-project preparation, assessment,
and the student skills developed by the project work. I will discuss the
strengths and also the challenges of this system, and give some examples
of student project topics from my own institution.
Session AD: Physics in a Biological
Location: STSS 412
Sponsor: Committee on Physics in Undergraduate Education
Co-Sponsor: Committee on Laboratories
Date: Monday, July 28
Time: 8:30–9:30 a.m.
Presider: Nancy Beverly
8:30-9 a.m. A Summary from Three Opportunities to
Explore the Intersection of Biology and Physics:
Research and Education
Invited – Mel Sabella, Chicago State University, Chem/Phys, Chicago, IL
Physics in a biological context has been part of the physics education
discussion for some time, with focused sessions at AAPT Meetings,
efforts to reform the algebra-based physics course, and textbooks that
attempt to meet the needs of biology students. This effort has grown
tremendously in recent years. Examining how our physics courses are
and are not meeting the needs of biology students and whether these
classes are capitalizing on the exciting physics in biological applications
will be front and center this year, with three opportunities for the biology
and physics communities, as well as the research and education com-
munities, to engage in this ongoing discussion. In this talk we highlight
some of the major contributions from the March Introductory Physics
for the Life Sciences Conference, the June Gordon Research Confer-
ence: Physics Research and Education, and the summer theme issue of the
American Journal of Physics
, as these events serve as guides to exploring
these intersections.
9-9:30 a.m. The 2014 Conference on Introductory
Physics for the Life Sciences
Invited – Robert Hilborn, American Association of Physics Teachers, One
Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740-3845;
In March 2014, the American Association of Physics Teachers, with sup-
port from the National Science Foundation, hosted a conference on Intro-
ductory Physics for the Life Sciences (IPLS). The conference was attended
by about 180 participants with representatives from both the biology and
physics communities. I will report on the conference and the resulting
recommendations on many topics related to IPLS courses including labs
for IPLS courses, articulating learning goals and objectives, designing
courses for a wide range of life science students, what life scientists expect
when their students take IPLS courses, and the politics of changing course
content and enhancing IPLS courses with research-based instructional
Session AE: PER in Upper Division
Location: STSS 230
Sponsor: Committee on Physics in Undergraduate Education
Co-Sponsor: Committee on Research in Physics Education
Date: Monday, July 28
Time: 8:30–10 a.m.
Presider: Mary Bridget Kustusch
8:30–9 a.m. Student Framing Impacts Math/Physics
Thinking in the Context of Matrix Multiplication
Invited – Warren M. Christensen, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
In principle, a student who has completed both linear algebra and quantum
mechanics should have a wealth of conceptual and procedural knowledge
that s/he has accrued from a wealth of mathematics and physics classes.
However in practice, it seems that many students come into our physics
courses lacking skills that we know were taught in mathematics courses.
This investigation casts light on students’ thinking about matrix multiplica-
tion and how student thinking appears to be influenced by their framing
of the problem as either a mathematics or physics question. We use the
framework of Framing and Resources to describe a single student’s think-
ing during an interview. Using lexicon analysis, we find students seem to
shift from a “mathematical frame” to a “physics frame” and back again,
but struggle to successfully transfer concepts between those frames. I will
highlight the markers for these frame shifts and the implications for future
9-9:30 a.m. Conducting Research in Upper-Division
Laboratory Courses*
Invited – MacKenzie R. Stetzer, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5709;
The physics education research community has only recently begun to fo-
cus its attention on upper-division and advanced laboratory courses. These
courses are often intended to help prepare undergraduates for experimen-
tal research at the undergraduate and graduate levels and for careers in
industry. As a result, such courses are particularly rich environments in
which to conduct research due to the many important goals of laboratory
instruction at this level, which vary from course to course. I will use an
ongoing investigation of student learning in junior-level analog electron-
ics courses to illustrate the importance of aligning research questions with
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