Physics for everyone
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Physics For Everyone . Mats Selen, UIUC Nov/4/04. UIUC Physics Outreach: Be Proud!. Saturday Physics Honors 12 th year ! Very popular; high attendance. Physics Van 11 th year ! Over 62,000 people have seen a show Big presence on web (van.hep.uiuc.edu):

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Physics For Everyone

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Physics For Everyone

Mats Selen, UIUCNov/4/04


UIUC Physics Outreach: Be Proud!

  • Saturday Physics Honors

    • 12th year !

    • Very popular; high attendance.

  • Physics Van

    • 11th year !

    • Over 62,000 people have seen a show

    • Big presence on web (van.hep.uiuc.edu):

      • Top-ranked Google “Outreach & Entertainment” page.

(Go there)

(Go there)

(Go there)


Two Other Efforts (i.e. this talk):

  • Physics 123: “Physics Made Easy”

    • Physics for future elementary school teachers.

    • Brand new - spring/05 will be 2nd offering.

  • The Whys Guy

    • Two live spots every Wednesday morning on

    • In 3rd year (or 5th – depends on how you count.)

    • Seems to have a pretty good following

      • Biggest ratings of any regular Morning Show segment (even though its rather stupid.)

(Go there)

(www.whysguy.net)


Physics 123

Not your grandfathers physics class !


  • The typical elementary education curriculum does not deal directly with this. The UIUC science & math requirements are shown below:

Content:

Methods:

Why ?

  • Many (most) elementary school teachers are not confident in their knowledge of math & science, in particular physics.

    • This can’t help but rub off on their students.

    • This is particularly bad for girls since most elementary school teachers are women.


So, what counts as a “Physical Science” ??

In addition to the obvious (Physics, Astronomy, and Chemistry), these do:

Elementary Ed students typically take Food Science and Nutrition and Geography(or Geology) to satisfy their PS requirement


Contrast this with the K-4 National Standards:www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses/html/6c.html

Q:Where will the teachers learn all this stuff ?


Our Idea

  • Create a class that will give students confidence in their ability to understand physics concepts.

    • Should come out with a positive “I can do this” attitude.

    • When their own students ask them a science question their response should be one of two things:

      • “Great question. Let me explain the answer…”

      • “Great question. I don’t know the answer, but I know we can find out what it is…”

  • Considerations:

    • Students must be attracted to the class.

    • Methods used in this class should be consistent with the way they will ultimately teach their own classes.

      • No point making it if no-ones takes it.

    • Must have appropriate scope.

      • Can’t cover all of the materials in the national standards.

    • Must give students appreciation for concepts without math.


Methods used are consistent with the way they will ultimately teach their own classes.

  • Hands on labs:

  • Have them use materials and do activities that they can replicate in their own classrooms.

    • Students keep inexpensive “equipment” – build teaching kit.

      • Washers from Farm & Fleet ($1.09/lb),

      • Cheap thermometers, stopwatches etc

        • Mystery Tube, States of Matter, Oobleck


* Student projects

Appropriate Scope (?)

  • There are 11 full 3 hour labs in a semester (14 weeks – 3 special*).

  • We can cover at most 11 topics.

  • We need to choose the right ones:

    1.Uncertainty and the Nature of Science

    2.Atoms and the States of Matter

    3.Heat and Temperature

    4.Mass, Weight and Balance

    5. Volume, Density, Floating, & Sinking

    6.Measuring and Graphing Motion

    7.Simple Forces & Newton's Laws

    8.Investigating Gravity

    9.Simple Machines

    10.Simple Circuits

    11.Magnets & Motors

Our picks for now


Class Structure

  • A different topic is covered each week.

  • Each week has the following structure:

  • Students come into Monday lab “cold”.

  • The web based homework and preflights probes conceptual understanding and feed me info for the lecture.

  • “Lecture” ties up loose ends and has lots of demos.


Who are the students?

  • Mostly women (all 24 last semester, in fact)

  • Almost all had physics in high school.

    • Most liked their high school physics class !

  • They are all very smart but lack confidence.

    • Especially true in math & physics.

  • They socialize extremely well and enjoy working in groups.

    • Took me a while to really appreciate how nice this is.

      • Not true for all physics and engineering majors

  • They love getting their hands on stuff and playing.

  • They love to learn.


Appreciation for concepts without math.

  • Examples:

    • F = ma (well, a = F/m actually)

    • Torque

    • Heat Capacity

    • Temperature (& Mittens)

    • Density, Floating & Sinking

    • Light the bulb

    • Motor


Got this idea about half way through the semester…


This question always gets very interesting results:

This is a great opportunity to show students “how to figure out”the answer to questions they will get from their class some day.

Click here to see web page…


demo


demo


Outlook

  • I am delighted with the way the course went.

    • We covered quite a bit of physics !

    • The students loved it and I know they are saying good things about it to their friends. This is really very important.

    • Expect big enrollment in Spring/05 (100-200).


Whys Guy

OK – I admit this is a bit stupid - but it’s a good excuse to do cool demos 


  • Weight of air

    • glass of water

    • crush can

    • video


  • Some R & D


  • Favorites:

    • kinematics

    • microwave

    • kaboom


In Conclusion:

  • Physics 123 may not have high-end content, but I think it’s a very important thing to do.

    • Big impact (100-200 teachers per year)!

  • Our department is supporting some pretty interesting outreach programs.

    • Wide appeal

    • Great PR

  • Sorry if you’re deaf…


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