Program

Updated as talks, workshops and posters are submitted.

Talks 

10 Years of ALPhA’s Laboratory Immersions
Lowell McCann UW – River Falls
I will describe the impacts that the Advanced Laboratory Physics Association’s (ALPhA’s) Laboratory Immersions program has had in it first decade.

Using Ethology and Molecular Biology to Develop Problems for Use in Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences
Melissa Vigil Marquette University
Some of the biggest “Aha” moments for my IPLS students recently have come from the use of biological examples of the physics under study. Such problems harness student’s prior biological knowledge as a gateway to the physics content and provide reinforcement of data presentation and analysis skills.

Comparison of face-to-face and online outcomes for Physics 100
Ken Menningen UW – Stevens Point
Spring 2018 was the last time I taught Physics 100 “Energy in Today’s World” in the traditional face-to-face format. Since then I have taught the course online three times, and the spring 2019 online class was demographically very similar to the spring 2018 face-to-face class. I will share observations about student performance in each class, as well as about the effectiveness of changes I have made during summer 2019 in an attempt to improve student outcomes. For many students online learning remains a difficult challenge, and I have not yet discovered a strategy that can help the performance of online students match that of the face-to-face students.

Cosplay as Education Outreach – A Year as Neil Armstrong
Alan Scott UW – Stout
A facsimile Apollo 11 Moonwalking spacesuit was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. The educational outreach associated with the suit will be discussed. This included four parades and a partnership with the local public library for a full week of space-related educational programming. Moreover, these activities required studying the history of the space race with attention to the Apollo 11 mission. Interesting yet widely unknown historical facts and stories will be part of this presentation.

Next Generation Modeling Courses for Teachers
Mark Lattery University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Next Generation Modeling Courses for Teachers are online professional development courses for physics teachers offered during the school year and summer. These courses reach teachers in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S. This is a brief update of this effort.

Evolution of geomagnetic cutoffs at the South Pole and neutron monitor rates
Suruj Seunarine University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Neutron monitors are among the most robust and reliable detectors of GeV cosmic rays and are sensitive, with high precision, to modulations in Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR). The South Pole Neutron Monitor, located at the geographic South Pole, which is both high latitude and high altitude, has an atmospheric cutoff of around 0.1GV. In the first four decades of its operation, a secular decline in the neutron rates have been observed. A recent study challenged the assumption that geomagnetic effects can be ignored at the South Pole, in particular for cosmic rays approaching from select regions in azimuth and at large zenith angles. This work confirms that ignoring geomagnetic cutoff effects could be important for the South Pole Neutron Monitor rates. We extend the investigation to include particle propagation in the Polar atmosphere, and the evolution of cosmic ray cutoffs at the South Pole over several decades. A connection is made between the evolving cutoffs and the decline in neutron monitor rates.

Neu News from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory
Jim Madsen UW-River Falls/WIPAC
IceCube has been fully functional for nine years. It continues to deliver exciting science results. This talk will give an overview of the latest high energy neutrino astrophysics results, describe the ongoing IceCube Upgrade project and virtually introduce the educator who will deploy to the South Pole in the upcoming season.

Undergraduate students’ common misconceptions about symmetry and why they often fail to recognize it
Nenad Stojilovic University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Although undergraduate students generally have some knowledge about symmetry, a majority of them lack a deep understanding of this important concept. They may recognize symmetry in objects, but typically fail to notice it in free fall, projectile motion, states of matter, and in physical laws in general. Students in upper-level physics classes have the same misconceptions about symmetry as students in the General Physics class. In this talk I will discuss a few examples, and I will give some suggestions for overcoming students’ misconceptions about symmetry.

Gravitational Wave Data Analysis
Swapnil Tripathi UWM-WC
In this talk I will discuss some methods of GW Data Analysis and present some results and their interpretations.

Cross Diagram for Solving Kinematic Problems
Daniel Sinkovits UW-Stout
Projectile motion or multi-phase/multi-object constant acceleration problems are some of the most algebraically complicated problems that students encounter in first-year physics. There are quite a few variables that could be known or unknown, and there are several different kinematic equations. I have devised a diagram to organize the variables and a way to notate the diagram to plan a solution.

Using Interactive Video to Teach Physics
Matthew Vonk UWRF
Interactive Video is a relatively new educational technology that puts students in the driver’s seat. Each interactive video experiment is based on a high-resolution video of a real event that students can explore using interactive measurement tools. In many cases students can actually change important parameters in the video! This freedom allows them to generate their own questions, design their own experiments, and reach their own data-driven conclusions, yet the constraints of the video make sure they never get too far off track. Instead of simply asserting Coulomb’s Law, why not let students discover it for themselves?

Highlighter Grading Strategy
Amy Root Chippewa Falls High School
This grading strategy encourages students to take ownership of their learning, helps students change their focus from points to understanding, AND saves the teacher time.

Surprising Ways to Make Introductory Physics Problems Much More Difficult
Jim Mallmann Milwaukee School of Engineering
Many problems assigned in introductory general physics courses include simplifying assumptions that make solutions of the problems easy—and sometimes possible. Typical assumptions include: no friction, massless cords, and the sine of an angle approximately equal to the tangent of the angle. Removing those simplifying assumptions often makes the problems much more difficult. The difficult versions of the problems is a good source of extra-credit problems for exams—and the most difficult of those problems can be used to challenge the best students in a class.

Get the Facts Out about STEM Teaching
Jennifer Docktor UW – La Crosse
Research indicates that nearly half of STEM majors show an interest in teaching, yet many of them have misperceptions about the teaching profession that influence their career decisions. A new NSF project “Get the Facts Out” (https://getthefactsout.org/) is developing a toolkit of resources about STEM teaching which are customizable to your institution. I will highlight the top three teaching myths and share how I have used these resources at UW-La Crosse.

A Shop Experience for Physics Majors in the Digital Age.
Turner Howard UW- Eau Claire
Few of our majors at UW-Eau Claire have prior shop experience. We believe experience with fabrication techniques is valuable for undergraduate students as they pursue research and careers after graduation. With the rise of digital fabrication tools like 3D printers, laser cutters, and circuit board milling machines, we now have an opportunity to incorporate a robust (albeit brief) experience with conventional and modern fabrication tools. This presentation will focus on a magnetic levitator project and the skills taught and tools employed by our undergraduate students in the Advanced Laboratory course.

3D Printed Electric Charge Potentials
Steven Sahyun UW-Whitewater
This talk will describe the need and process for creating and producing representations of the electric potential for multiple charges as universally accessible 3D-printable objects. In addition, these objects include equipotential lines commonly seen in figures used in introductory books and applets. These 3D-printed learning objects are useful for students who have difficulty interpreting the traditional visual representation and to those who simply appreciate a novel approach to the presentation of electrostatics.

Frictionless Collisions for the Masses
Brad Hinaus UW Stevens Point
In a typical introductory physics lab, the goal is to show total momentum is conserved when two carts collide in either an elastic or inelastic collision. Although total momentum is conserved, on a dynamic track, the carts experience frictional forces when they travel between the collision point and photogates. This leads to results that suggest that total momentum is not conserved. Including friction in the theory of the process, we show the change in total momentum is proportional to the coefficient of friction. We verified this experimentally by measuring the change in total momentum as a function of the coefficient of friction and show within experimental error that total momentum is conserved in the absence of friction which of course we already know.

An Inquiry Based Biophysics Course for Non-majors
Christina Othon Ripon College
The development of a college-wide, general education curriculum alleviated pressure to offer 100-level introductory physics courses for non-majors. This opened the opportunity for us to reconsider the type general education courses most needed to serve other disciplines at the institution. Ripon College has a large number of elementary and secondary education, health pre-professional, exercise science, and pre-engineering students. We developed an inquiry based learning course which had no prerequisites that could satisfy the physical education needs of our education majors while providing a soft entry into the physics curriculum for our health pre-professionals. The course emphasizes hands on activities which build quantitative reasoning skills and promotes a firm understanding of matter and physical properties of biomaterials. The course is populated by students of a wide mathematical and scientific background. We present results regarding the value of the course content for the target student populations.

Planet Flatness
Paul Erdman University of Wisconsin Green Bay | Marinette Campus
Abstract: Having encountered a flat-earth believer for the first time, I asked myself if I am doing anything in my astronomy class and lab to prevent my students from falling for such nonsense. To that end I have begun to design specific assignments which point out the fallacies of flat-earth belief. The first such assignment will be discussed in this talk.

Workshops

The Language of Physics
Dr. Mick Veum  UW-Stevens Point and Gary Baier  SPASH
Could misconceptions in learning physics be partially caused or reinforced by the casual use of scientific language? The every-day use of physics language creates both challenge and opportunity for the physics teacher. The goal of this workshop is to explore how the use of language can influence the teaching and learning of physics. Participants will work through a guided-inquiry in recognizing the challenges that the use of language presents in effective instruction. Participants will be invited to participate in an ongoing project that is developing tutorial for teachers in training.

Posters

Solar Cookers in the Physics Classroom
Rachael Anderman Lancor – Co-presenter: Brian Lancor, Edgewood College
Solar cookers have long been used in science classrooms to teach about energy transfer. In this unit, we elevate the solar cooker from a middle school level project to melt marshmallows to a sophisticated modeling project in a college physics class. There are two aspects of our solar cooker unit: (1) Engineering design: The students design and construct solar cookers, test their prototype, and redesign the solar cooker. (2) Mathematical modeling: Students learn about the physics of solar energy and heat transfer. They then use these physical theories to develop a computational model for heat transfer in the system. The model can be built in either Excel or Python. Lesson plans will be provided.

An Inquiry Based Biophysics Course for Non-majors
Christina Othon Ripon College
The development of a college-wide, general education curriculum alleviated pressure to offer 100-level introductory physics courses for non-majors. This opened the opportunity for us to reconsider the type general education courses most needed to serve other disciplines at the institution. Ripon College has a large number of elementary and secondary education, health pre-professional, exercise science, and pre-engineering students. We developed an inquiry based learning course which had no prerequisites that could satisfy the physical education needs of our education majors while providing a soft entry into the physics curriculum for our health pre-professionals. The course emphasizes hands on activities which build quantitative reasoning skills and promotes a firm understanding of matter and physical properties of biomaterials. The course is populated by students of a wide mathematical and scientific background. We present results regarding the value of the course content for the target student populations.

Other Presentations