SectionNews_July2013 - page 14

AAPT Section News, July 2013
—Page 14
He described activities or prompts that allow his students
to create many of the key elements of the introductory
mechanics themselves. This might be a reconstruction of
Galileo’s lab or “OK you have a solution, find two more
ways to solve this problem.” Jeff loves to have conferences.
His annual conference on centripetal force brings renowned
research teams together to present their findings on this
mysterious phenomena.
Donna Messina of the University of Washington spoke to
us about preparing K-12 teachers to foster creativity in their
own classrooms. The UW summer institute is well known for
its PER based preparation of K-12 teachers. Donna explicitly
drew the connection between the programs features and
supporting teachers in this goal and how other features help
prevent back-sliding into teaching as telling. Some features
she identified were assessment using RTOP and instilling a
habit of being reflexive through practices such as the brown
bag lunch series. She noted that in the end creativity was
fostered in both populations: K-12 students, and the teachers
who participated in the institute.
Lezlie DeWater followed with the anatomy of the pre-
service program at Seattle Pacific University with the
same outcome. The structure of quality PER based teacher
preparation is directly connected in many places with
fostering creativity. Particularly interesting was how many
elements of the SPU program are different from the UW
Summer Institute. From the use of Learning Assistants (LAs)
to the rights and responsibilities contract for the classroom
learning community, we were treated to a much wider variety
of examples and best practices than one might have supposed
just knowing that each speaker would describe a PER based
teacher preparation program.
Next up was Don Pringle of Ferndale High School.
His students construct a representation of behaviors
and phenomena using modeling pedogogy developed at
Arizona State by Hestenes et all. Don laid out the steps his
student go through on a typical modeling unit showing us
the important elements we would need to implement this
pedegogy and illustrating it all with artifacts and photos from
the classroom. He made excellent use of his time, providing
motivation, structure, details, and outcomes, all backed up
with helpful resource citations.
Invention activities were not be shorted in todays
program. James Day at the university of British Columbia
uses them to help students develop data analysis methods
such as standard deviations and weighted averages of
disparate data and linear regression. Elements students are
typically poor at even after a year of laboratory instruction.
What is more, at UBC they have devised a computer
environment for serving the invention tasks and receiving the
student submissions. This facilitates both the instruction and
the assessment of its efficacy.
The morning talks ended with Christa Larsen an
unregenerate foil to Andrew’s PER efforts at Western
Washington University. Her lively description of a problem
based learning class that was truly entirely focused on
problem solving might stimulate some eye rolling among
the devotees of conceptual development, but there was no
denying that this was an extremely successful atmosphere
that supported and sustained student creativity. “I like an
elegant syllabus” means just two categories for grading
(exams and homework for example) to her. This spirit has
led her to a working pedagogy that is stripped of nearly
eveything that gets in the way of her stated instructional
priority. In this alone she captured her audience at the
meeting. While many may disagree with her focus, everyone
found substantive food for thought and appreciation for her
success with the conference theme.
Mark Buchli at Liberty High School wonders what you
can do with AP students in the spring after they sit for the
AP exam. You really have no hold on them then, so give
them some real science to do. He had made contact with
the Polar Science Center at the Applied Physics Lab at UW.
The goal was to prepare students to look at the problem of
climate change as it impacts the artic ice cover. He began
with a series of experiments in Ice formation and calorimetry
and follows up with openended analysis of large data sets.
It was very motivating to see how similar student generated
questions and analysis was to published work in many cases.
And there was no problem with motivating ths students.
Natasha Holmes of UBC finished up with a slightly
different window into the benefits of invention tasks.
Where James had focused on the structure for their larger
research efforts at UBC Natasha described how the invention
support environment dilivered the invention tasks, provided
scafolding as the students developed their models and
recorded the results for evaluation and assessment.
WA-AAPT Meeting Program.
Bruce Palmquist, CWU, 5-5:50 p.m., Creating and using
hypothesis-testing investigations using online simulations. In
this workshop, you will learn how to develop investigations
using PhET physics simulations
). PhET simulations are
effective tools for teaching students physics concepts and
helping them learn investigative skills. The presenter will
share some investigations he created, guide you through
the process of creating your own investigation, and provide
feedback as you start developing your own.
Mike Jackson, CWU, 6-6:50 p.m., Exploration of electric
circuits using hands-on activities and physics simulations.
In this workshop, electric circuits will be explored using an
experimental apparatus containing five light bulbs connected
in various series and parallel configurations. This experiment
has been used to assess student understanding of electric
circuits in our introductory physics courses for majors, non-
majors, and the general education program. Next, series
and parallel circuits will be investigated using the PhET
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