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Effects of Integrated Science Courses on the Physical Sciences. Presented at the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers held at Lynchburg College 11-13 March 2005 by Harold Geller George Mason University. What I’m Talking About. Honors Program at GMU

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Effects of Integrated Science Courses on the Physical Sciences

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Effects of Integrated Science Courses on the Physical Sciences

Presented at the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers

held at Lynchburg College

11-13 March 2005

by Harold Geller

George Mason University

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What I’m Talking About

  • Honors Program at GMU

  • General Education Requirements

  • Integrated Sciences

  • Physics in Integrated Sciences

  • The Good

  • The Bad

  • The Ugly

  • Future Hopes

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Science in General Education at George Mason

  • Program for Alternative General Education (PAGE)

    • Incorporation into Honors Program in General Education

      • first 2 years

      • concentrate on interdisciplinary subjects

        • “The Honors Program in General Education provides highly qualified students with an integrated foundation for their future studies. It consists of a challenging interdisciplinary curriculum that satisfies general education requirements for graduation and prepares students for their majors.”

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Standard Approach to Gen Ed Requirements

  • Students choose from among natural science classes with lab

    • Presented in order of popularity

      • Biology

      • Astronomy

      • Geology

      • Chemistry

      • Physics

    • Apparently the less math, the more popular

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Integrated Science Approach

  • “Introduce a course that presents a coherent and clear picture of all science disciplines - an interdisciplinary approach - which helps students confirm and calibrate the big picture with the real world.”

    • “Interdisciplinary science is an attempt to broaden and humanize science education by reducing and breaking down the barriers that enclose tradiational science disciplines as distinct subjects.”

      • [Source: Tillery, Enger and Ross (2001) p. xiii]

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Why Integrated Sciences?

  • As early as 1996 the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences recognized problems with science literacy in the U.S.

    • They recommended that the problem may be addressed by introducing integrated science courses for non-science majors

      • i.e. integrated science courses versus single discipline science courses

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Topics in Teaching Physics within Integrated Science

  • Units of length, mass and time, and metric Prefixes

  • Density and its units

  • The Scientific Method

  • Speed, velocity, acceleration

  • Forces

  • Falling objects, Newton’s Laws of Motion and Gravity

  • Work, Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy

  • Conservation of Energy, Types/Sources of Energy

  • Kinetic Molecular Theory, Temperature and Heat

  • Phases of matter and Thermodynamics

  • Forces, Vibrations and Wave Motion

  • Sound, Waves, Reflection, Refraction, Resonance

  • Electricity and Magnetism

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A Quick View

  • Following are samples from Powerpoint presentations that I use incorporating material that the publisher (McGraw-Hill) provided with the textbook (Integrated Science by Tillery, Enger and Ross)

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Question for Thought

  • A spring clamp exerts a force on a stack of papers it is holding together. Is the spring clamp doing work on the papers? Explain.

  • If the spring clamp does not cause the paper to move, it is not acting through a distance and no work is done.

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Question for Thought

  • A lamp bulb is rated 100 Watts. Why is a time factor not included in the rating?

  • Because a time factor is in the rating. A watt is a unit of power, and power is work per unit time. A 100 W light bulb uses energy at a rate of 100 J per s.

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Question for Thought

  • Does the person standing motionless in the aisle of a moving bus have kinetic energy?

  • Relative to the bus, the person has no kinetic energy because the person is at rest relative to the bus. Relative to the ground, however, the person does have kinetic energy because the person is moving with the same speed as the bus.

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Question for Thought

  • Compare the energy needed to raise a mass 10 meters on Earth to the energy needed to raise the same mass 10 meters on the Moon. Explain the difference, if any.

  • The energy required is less on the moon because the weight of the object (the downward force due to gravity) depends upon the force of gravity, which is less on the moon than on the earth. Less energy is needed to do the work of raising the mass on the moon, and the elevated object on the moon has less potential energy as a consequence of the work done.

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Question for Thought

  • What happens to the kinetic energy of a falling book when the book hits the floor?

  • The energy is converted to heat and sound.

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Question for Thought

  • Why are petroleum, natural gas, and coal called fossil fuels?

  • Fossil fuels contain energy from plants or animals that lived millions of years ago. These plants and animals are known from the fossils they left behind, and the energy in the fuels represents energy stored from these ancient organisms.

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Sample Question

  • A) What is the kinetic energy of a 30.0 gram bullet that is traveling at 200.0 meters per second?

  • B) What velocity would you have to give a 60.0 gram bullet to give it the same kinetic energy?

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Sample Question

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Sample Question

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Sample Question

  • A) How much work is done in raising a 50.0 kilogram crate a distance of 1.5 meters above a storeroom floor?

  • B) What is the change of potential energy as a result of this move?

  • C) How much kinetic energy will the crate have as it falls and hits the floor?

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Sample Question

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Sample Question

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Sample Question

  • A) What distance will a 10 horsepower motor lift a 2000 pound elevator in 30.0 seconds?

  • B) What would be the average velocity of the elevator during the lift?

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Sample Question

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  • Exposure

    • All students must learn some physics

      • Mechanics

      • Heat

      • Waves

      • Sound

      • Electricity

      • Magnetism

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  • Length of time spent on physics

    • Limited lab time for physics

      • Use of computer “simulated laboratory experiments”

    • Limited lecture time for physics

      • 4-weeks in 1-semester version; 8 weeks in 2-semester version

  • Depth that can be achieved

    • Little difference from high school physics?

    • Limited knowledge that most integrated science teachers have in physics

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More News from GMUThe Good and Bad(how’s by you?)

  • New research building; started construction in 2004

    • Includes observatory (maybe planetarium?) and labs for remote sensing and visual technologies

  • Geology as a department is gone

    • split into environmental sciences and geography

  • Biology as a department is gone

    • split into environmental sciences and molecular and microbiology

  • Disappointment with teachers teaching science

  • There may yet be future physicists

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Educators’ View of Science?

  • A doctoral dissertation (in education) view of science

    • “These theories prove that classical science is oppressive, a dead machine.”

    • “Einstein’s work seems outdated”

    • “Scientific results are not predictable and concrete.”

  • How does this get through?

  • What can be done?

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Another Loss

  • Previous students of mine

    • Started to teach in Fairfax County and Prince William County, Virginia high schools

    • Taught Earth Science and Physics

    • Discipline problems with students

    • Little teaching - mostly discipline and administrative

    • Quit after one or two years of teaching in high schools

    • Too many stories like this across country

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Advertisement: The GMU Future Research Building with Observatory/Planetarium(?) and Center for Earth Observing and Space Research(opening Spring 2006?)

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Whither Physics in General Education?

  • Will integrated sciences help or hurt?

    • Is exposure of students to physics wider?

    • Is less depth a problem?

    • Are instructors less experienced in physics?

      • Perhaps use more than one instructor?

    • Do individual science courses suffer (student population wise)?

    • Is less really more, or is less really less?

    • Is discipline specific science approach to gen ed best?

      • Is “critical thinking” and “scientific reasoning” more important than learning discipline specific facts?

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