Presentations

Talks 

T1: A Good Research Project for an Undergraduate Student
Robert Greenler, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

This talk will start with a discussion of what makes a “good” undergraduate student research problem, given the limitations of time and budget that exist at many institutions. I will describe a project that I think meets the criteria. It is one that I never got to implement and I offer it as a suggestion that others may feel free to pursue. It concerns constructing a computer model to simulate tree growth.

T2: Nutshell TOPHAT, Diigo, Overleaf, Piazza
Duncan Carlsmith, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Motivation for and experience with the audience response system TOPHAT, the social bookmarking site Diigo, the cloud LaTex site Overleaf, and the forum PIAZZA in university physics teaching will be presented.

T3: Science and Innovation in Garage Physics
Duncan Carlsmith, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Garage Physics at UW-Madison is a space for student-driven interdisciplinary innovation. This talk will describe student projects and ventures originating in Garage and connections with the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

T4: Building an Inexpensive Optics Bench and Winning the 2016 Shell Science Lab Challenge Grant [Moved to Big Share! Friday Evening]
Edward Wyrembeck, Howards Grove High School

Building an Inexpensive Optics Bench and Winning the 2016 Shell Science Lab Challenge Grant
I am going to give a short presentation on how I used my design for building an inexpensive optics bench and viewing aerial images to win the 2016 Shell Science Lab Challenge Grant. The purpose of this presentation is to showcase the optics bench, view an aerial image, and encourage others to apply for the 2017 Shell Science Lab Challenge Grant. I will also discuss the three necessary components of the grant:
1. Science Instructional Strategies
2. Current and Desired Lab Resources
3. Laboratory Activity
A high quality optics bench is an expensive piece of equipment to purchase-usually costing around $400.00. This $400.00 price tag for a single piece of equipment is often too expensive for many physics teachers’ budgets, especially when they will need at least 5 or 6 optics benches for a normal lab class size of 24 students. This high cost results in many physics teachers deciding not to teach optics because they lack the proper equipment. This is very unfortunate because I have found that optics is one of my students’ favorite units. Therefore, I decided to try to construct a high quality optics bench for less than $15.00. This would make it possible for any teacher to replicate my work and make six optics benches for less than $100.00.

T5: ALPhA’s Impacts on Undergraduate Physics Instruction
Lowell McCann, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

This talk will review the impacts that the Advanced Laboratory Physics Association (ALPhA) has had over the past 8+ years of it existence. ALPhA’s programs and the breadth of their reach will be reviewed along with updates on future activities.

T6: An Easy Determination of an Approximate Value for Absolute Zero
Jim Mallman, Milwaukee School of Engineering

A method to determine an approximately accurate value for absolute zero will be described. The needed data can be easily obtained using simple, inexpensive apparatus, and the value for absolute zero can be determined without doing any calculations or using any equations.

T7: Relativity on Rotated Graph Paper using GeoGebra
Rob Salgado, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Minkowski Spacetime Diagrams have been difficult to interpret because line segments representing equal spacetime intervals have unequal Euclidean lengths. In our recent article (Am.J.Phys. 84, 344 (2016)), we showed how to visualize proper-time along worldlines by drawing on graph paper that has been rotated by 45 degrees. Many quantitative results in special relativity can then be read off a spacetime diagram simply by counting boxes, with very little algebra. After a summary of our method, we demonstrate its implementation in GeoGebra (an interactive dynamic geometry software platform). Some examples can be accessed at https://www.geogebra.org/m/HYD7hB9v .

T8: 3D Printed Physic Tactile Objects for Science Accessibility
Steven Sahyun, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Physics is highly pictographic as the use of diagrams is fundamental to understanding of the world around us. The strong reliance on pictures may place a student who is unable to see or interpret the displayed diagram or simulation at a conceptual disadvantage. The increasing availability of 3D-printers to create objects out of polylactic acid (PLA) thermoplastics provides a novel, low cost and easy method for fabrication and distribution of tactile manipulative objects in order to aid teaching of STEM related courses. This talk will showcase some of the Physics Tactile Learning Objects that have been developed and the Website where these objects may be downloaded for remote printing by anyone with access to a 3D printer.

T9: The Digital Newton
Mark Lattery, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

This history of mechanics is an important source of inspiration for physics teaching. The historian, E.J. Dijksterhuis mentions a mechanical analogy of gravity introduce by 17th century scientist, Isaac Beekman, that leads to fun summer project with gas canisters, an Arduino board, and LEGOs.

T10: Online Homework: Is it for Assessment or Learning?
Matt Evans and Erik Hendrickson, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

We will present our varied methods of using online homework systems for both helping students learn the material and how we use the online systems to assess students. Both Mastering Physics and The Expert TA will be discussed, with pros and cons of each system presented.

T11: Gravitational Waves
Swapnil Tripathi, University of Wisconsin-Washington County

In this presentation, I will talk about the generation and detection of gravitational waves.

T12: From Pinholes to Palomar: Using the World’s Simplest Camera to Help Students Understand Optical Devices
Nathan Miller, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

I use the principles of the pinhole camera to give students a new way to think about how optical systems operate, with emphasis on the telescope. This analysis lends itself to a deeper understanding of image inversion, magnification, image brightness, focal length, aperture, the Newtonian secondary mirror, the focal ratio, the role of the eyepiece, and more.

T13: Physics Student Research/Internship Experience through Faculty-Company Collaboration: Lessons Learned
Ozgur Yavuzcetin, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

At UW-Whitewater, some faculty collaborate with small companies at the Innovation Center of Whitewater. This collaboration results in research/internship experience for our physics students working at these companies. Each student can have a faculty and a business mentor. I will talk about lessons learned as a faculty mentor and what students gain.

T14: Hacking the Pasco Power Brick for Direct Analog Measurements
Carey Woodward, University of Wisconsin–Fond du Lac

The rapid and large-scale data acquisition made possible by microcomputer-based laboratory equipment has undeniably been a boon for physics teaching labs. However, I often found that my students must use the full system of computer, interface box, and sensor, in situations where a simple manual measurement would suffice. (The two most common such measurements were temperature and magnetic field.) Rather than purchase new equipment, I modified the power supply “brick” for the Pasco interface box so that it could drive any Pasco analog sensor directly and feed the resulting signal to an ordinary voltmeter. In this talk, I give the details of the modification, describe my experience with it in my introductory physics labs, and argue that, in addition to reducing my dependence on my increasingly flaky computer interface boxes, this arrangement gives the students a more authentic lab experience.

T15: Stellar Evolution in the Classroom
Barton Pritzl, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

One of the key aspects to understanding our universe is stellar evolution. By studying how stars live their lives, we can better understand things such as where the elements come from and how the Sun will end its life. We will discuss how these complex ideas can be studied in the classroom by studying clusters of stars. The science behind stellar evolution and possible lab activities will be presented.

T16: REU and IRES Undergraduate Research at UWRF
Suruj Seunarine, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

UWRF has an REU site in Neutrino Astrophysics, which hosts six student from around the nation for ten week summer research experiences. We also have an NSF funded IRES program, which has been sending students to Europe for the last three summers. We describe these programs and the opportunities we offer for students at your institution.

T17: MD Pressure Calculation Toward Its Logical Extremes
Daniel Sinkovits, University of Wisconsin-Stout

While finalizing a paper about pressure calculation in dielectric systems, I have been puzzling over more fundamental aspects of pressure calculation. One way to define pressure is to expand the volume by a small amount and note how much the free energy has decreased. Another way is to calculate the rate of momentum flux, by both intermolecular forces and particle movement. In a molecular dynamics simulation, the pressure may be calculated at every instant, but only the time average is required to equal the ensemble average pressure. Therefore, many different definitions for the instantaneous pressure may produce the same correct pressure when averaged over time. The difference may be viewed as the variation of the spatial weighting in the average of local pressure. One may weight all space equally or one may weight some regions more heavily than others. In 2001, W. K. den Otter defined this weighting using a general deformation field, such greater local expansion corresponds heavier weighting. However, his formula relied on a thermodynamic derivation, which can obscure assumptions that limit the validity of a derived formula. I will elucidate one limitation and explain how to correctly calculate pressure if the deformation field (i.e., the spatial weighting) varies with time.

T18: Recent Results from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory
Jim Madsen, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

The South Pole IceCube Neutrino Observatory, fully functional for five years now, is the largest single science instrument ever constructed. A cubic kilometer of ice starting 1450 meters below the surface is instrumented with 5160 light sensors. A square kilometer surface array, IceTop, is situated directly above the in-ice detector. It is a versatile facility to study a wide range of high energy phenomena from neutrino properties to the locations and acceleration mechanisms of the most powerful cosmic engines in the universe. Three recent results from IceCube Collaboration will be discussed—the cosmic ray spectrum from 10^15 to 10^18 eV, neutrino oscillations and the search for sterile neutrinos, and the cosmic neutrino spectrum and sky map.

T19: How Your Students Can Get A Star Named For Them (For Real) [Saturday afternoon]
Bob Benjamin, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

According to the guidelines of the International Astronomical Union, if you discover a comet it is named for you, if you discover an asteroid or minor planet, you get to choose a name (although it has to be approved). But stars get names based on catalog numbers or positions on the sky, cf.www.iau.org/public/themes/buying_star_names/. That’s the official rule, but unofficially sometimes particularly interesting stars pick up in informal name (like Barnard’s Star). I will briefly introduce a (secret) website in which we have set up a citizen science (Zooniverse) project which serves out blinking images of the sky taken 10 years apart with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. This site is extremely user-friendly and has an easy-to-use social media component that allows students to interact with each other and our research team. By having your students participate in this project, they will be advance the cause of science, and if they discover a particularly interesting stars (which will be cataloged with the name of the discoverer), they might even end up with a star named after them. I will also describe how you can submit class lists so I can tell you how many of your students are participating and how well they are doing.

T20: STEMteach: One Year to a Teaching License
Earl Blodgett, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

STEMteach is a novel one-year graduate course of study designed for STEM degree holders who wish to become certified to teach in their area of qualification. Inspired by the UTeach program at the University of Texas – Austin, the program at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls brings together graduate students from many areas of science and mathematics for an intensive one-year cohort experience. The first cohort included one candidate earning a physics license, the second cohort has three candidates pursuing a physics license. The courses closely follow the UTeach model, providing extensive authentic field experiences from the very first week of the program. The first cohort of the program began in June 2015, with completion of the program in May 2016. All earned 24 graduate credits applicable towards an optional Master of Science in Education degree.
Funded in part by NSF Noyce Capacity Building Grant 1439768.

Workshops

WS 1: Energy of Recurve and Compound Bows
Gary Baier, Green Bay East High School
Saturday, Oct. 29 (morning session)

WS 2: Building Electric Guitars in the Physics Classroom
Ryan Peterson, Brillion High School
Saturday, Oct. 29 (afternoon session)

What are you doing to teach electromagnetism & induction? What are you doing to teach sound & waves? What are you doing to teach design & fabrication skills? Is it as engaging as building an electric guitar? Come and find out how build inexpensive working electric guitars in your physics classroom by doing it yourself!

WS 3: Introduction to Stellar Spectra
Nadejda Kaltcheva, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Saturday, Oct. 29 (afternoon session)

Open-access databases of stellar spectra are a great resource when teaching the concepts of thermal emission and spectral lines. Even a simple hands-on analysis of such stellar spectra helps expand students’ understanding of the concepts. This workshop is focused on the application of synthetic stellar spectra to illustrate the Hydrogen spectral lines and Wien’s displacement law.

WS 4: Using Large Whiteboards to Introduce Constant Velocity Motion
Amy Root, Chippewa Falls High School
Saturday, Oct. 29 (time TBA)

In this workshop, you will participate in a data collection and analysis activity using constant velocity cars. We will walk through the whiteboard process used in this activity which scaffolds students to the position-time equation for constant velocity motion. Finally, we will discuss the benefits and potential pitfalls of using large whiteboards in the science classroom.

Posters

P1: Learning Outcomes of Hands-On Activities in a Community College General Chemistry Classroom 
Jeshanah Zolkowski, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, WiSys Technology Foundation  [Student]

P2: Growth and Structure of Cr-Doped ZnO Thin Films
Sara Chamberlin, Lawrence University

There is a constant search for more efficient materials for use in electronics. Zinc Oxide (ZnO) is a well-known semiconductor used in numerous applications. However, the effects of doping ZnO with chromium (Cr) are less documented. Using spray pyrolysis—a robust and industrially relevant technique—an aqueous solution of Zn and Cr nitrates is sprayed onto a heated substrate to create thin films of polycrystalline (Zn1-xCrx)O with various Cr concentrations below x=0.05. X-ray diffraction (XRD) is used to verify the retention of ZnO’s structure, confirming that Cr substitutes for Zn in the crystal lattice. XRD can also give detailed information about the crystal lattice parameters and crystallite size—both important in understanding the effectiveness of our growth process. Verifying with XRD that we have grown good crystalline material is the first step to increasing the understanding of (Zn1-xCrx)O, and we hope to next investigate the optical and electrical characteristics of doped ZnO.

P3: A Spacetime Trigonometry Approach to Relativity
Rob Salgado, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Inspired by Taylor and Wheeler and by Yaglom, we use familiar techniques from the analytic geometry and trigonometry of Euclidean Space to develop the corresponding analogues for Minkowski and Galilean spacetimes and immediately provide them with physical interpretations. A feature of this formalism is the ability to clarify and unify the analogies among the three geometries, especially the Galilean limits of results from Special Relativity. We lay out the foundations of an idealized curriculum intended for physics students from high school geometry to intro General Relativity.

P4: RR Lyrae Stars in the Globular Cluster NGC 1261
Adam Shelvik, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh  [Student]

We have searched the poorly-studied globular cluster NGC 1261 for pulsating variable stars called RR Lyrae stars. By examining the properties of these variable stars, we can determine such things as the distance and chemical content of the cluster. Several RR Lyrae stars were detected within the cluster. We present the results of this survey and what they reveal about the cluster NGC 1261. The overall goal of this research is to increase our knowledge and understanding of the Milky Way globular clusters to better understand the formation of the Milky Way Galaxy. The properties of NGC 1261 are compared to other Galactic globular clusters to see if it has any unique features.

P5: Regressive-Revolutionary Modeling Behaviors in the History of Mechanics and in a Physical Science Classroom
Mark Lattery, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

The LPEER Group is engaged in research studies of model-based reasoning in the history of mechanics and in the physical science classroom. This research is significant and important because it confronts competing theories of student knowledge and learning in science and engages open questions in the history of science about the content and nature of scientific model building (Lattery 2016). An improved technical understanding of student model formation and development will also lead to more effective physics teacher training and instruction at all levels of the curriculum (K-16) (Clement 2009; Windschitl et al. 2008). This research is supported by the Spencer Foundation #200800161, University of Wisconsin System #106-01-7000-2, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Faculty Development Board FDR 913, FDR 982).

P6: Air-Pulsed Carts and Modeling Aid: New Instruments for Research on Student Model-Based Reasoning
Mark Lattery, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

This project develops research tools to examine student model-based reasoning in introductory physics. This work extends detailed studies of student models and modeling  in mechanics (Lattery 2016); confronts competing theories of student knowledge and learning in science; and engages open questions in the history of science about the content and nature of scientific model building. This project resulted in two innovative tools for physics education research: programmable air pulsed carts (PAPC) and Modeling Aid. This research is supported by the Spencer Foundation #200800161, University of Wisconsin System #106-01-7000-2, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Faculty Development Board FDR 913, FDR 982).

P7: Extinction-Polarization Relation for the Cygnus Star-Forming Field
Chris Christopherson, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh [Student]

We combine the catalogs by Hiltner (1956) and Heiles (2000) with uvbyβ photometric data from the catalog of Paunzen (2015) to collate a sample of O and B-type stars with precise homogeneous distances, color excess and available polarimetry in the Cygnus star-forming complex. The field we study is confined between 60 and 95 degrees galactic longitude and ± 15 degrees galactic latitude and includes the prominent nebulosities and OB associations in Cygnus. We use these data to map the polarization vector orientation and analyze the polarization-extinction correlation as revealed by the polarized light of the bright early-type stars.

Other Presentations

D1: Roundtable Discussion for Teacher Preparation
Jennifer Docktor, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

This roundtable is an opportunity for participants to discuss challenges and share successful strategies for teacher preparation. Some potential discussion topics include: recruiting and retaining future physics teachers, structuring coursework and field experiences, collaborating with schools of education, fostering partnerships with local K-12 schools, or mentoring and induction of new teachers. We will also review recommendations and resources available from AAPT and PhysTEC (the Physics Teacher Education Coalition).