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Program for the Fall 2007 meeting

Saturday, 3 November 2007
Mt. San Antonio College

Founders' Hall

Local Host: Martin Mason

Maps and Directions
Online maps and directions
Annotated campus map from Martin Mason

Parking is free. See the annotated map from Martin Mason.

The local Society of Physics Students chapter will be providing sandwiches (grilled hamburger, hotdog, cheese sandwich or teriyaki chicken), a drink, a cookie, and fruit for ~$5/person.

THANK YOU exhibitors and sponsors!!
• Vernier Scientific
John Wiley & Sons Publishers

Please take some time to check out the commercial workshops and exhibits at the meeting and especially to thank the representatives for their support of our organization.


The World Famous "Order of Magnitude Contest"!!
"How many tons of CO2 are liberated to the atmosphere every day due to the consumption of carbonated beverages?"
The person giving the median answer is the winner and gets first pick of the door prizes.

(Tip o' the hat to guest OoM question contributor, Glenn Malin.)

Program Schedule  
8:15 AM
Registration, Refreshments, Exhibits
8:30 AM

Workshop: "Data Visualization and Video Analysis"
Martin Mason—Mt. San Antonio College

Please contact Dean Papadakis <>, VP for HS, who is coordinating the workshop. (Reservations are required as the workshop includes software and hardware giveaways. See? It pays to read the abstracts)

This workshop will provide hands-on experience with the use of video-based motion analysis in a wide range of applications, including the teaching laboratory, projects, and homework. Participants will learn how to make digital video clips for analysis, as well as how to use video analysis for homework problems and in the classroom. For example, participants will create a number of movies of one-dimensional and two-dimensional phenomena and make center-of-mass analysis of pre-recorded movies. A complete first semester video analysis based laboratory curriculum will be presented which contains over twenty different video analysis labs based on the Minnesota problem solving laboratories. Video analysis can be done in the classroom with inexpensive web cameras, digital cameras or traditional video cameras. The workshop will use the new video feature of the Logger Pro 3.5 software from Vernier Software & Technology that allow video movie clips to be analyzed and synchronized and replayed side by side with MBL data. Evaluation copies of analysis software, selected digital video clips, and a CD with many video analysis labs that can be edited by the user will be provided to the participants for their use after the workshop. The first five participants will receive an inexpensive web cam suitable for use in video analysis.

10:00 AM
Welcome and announcements
10:15 AM

Contributed Talk: "Enhancing physics learning with Online homework systems"
Ertan Salik—Cal Poly Pomona

Online Homework systems have many attractive features: Homework submission is online, each student receives a custom version of the same question, many question types are automatically graded while essay submissions are still possible, students get instant feedback, hints, and help. It also provides timely feedback for the instructor. There are a number of subtle points, however, to make it enhance physics education, and keep students motivated. I have used webassign, one of the systems available, and I will communicate my experience. I will also present what students think, other systems and content available, learning curve, and some subtle points to ensure success.

10:30 AM

Contributed Talk: "Improving Student Performance in Quantum Mechanics: Practice Problems in Lecture vs. Discussion Problems in Small-groups"
Homeyra Sadaghiani—Cal Poly Pomona

We have replaced Practice Problems in lecture format with Discussion Problems in small-group format in one of the upper level undergraduate quantum mechanics courses. Preliminary results suggest improvement in student ability to deal with complex problems in the context of spin one half systems. In addition, the use of multiple representations (e.g., matrix notation) seemed to be helpful to students. Some examples and preliminary results will be presented.

10:45 AM

Invited Talk: "Rethinking the Role of Physics in the Undergraduate Education of Biologists"
Charles De Leone—CSU, San Marcos

Contributions to current biological research often require extensive use of quantitative and computational tools. In light of this situation, researchers and funding agencies have become concerned that the traditional undergraduate biology curriculum is not preparing biologists who can immediately contribute to research. As biologists look to adjust their curriculum accordingly, physics educators have the opportunity to reconsider their role in the preparation of future biologists. This talk aims to explore the open question of how physics instructors can best serve the evolving needs of biology. Some of the issues discussed include: the origin of the calls for change in the biology curriculum, the current state of the introductory physics courses for biologists, what has been learned from efforts to remake this course, and ways that physics educators can enhance their contribution to the undergraduate biology curriculum.

11:45 AM
Business Meeting
12:15 PM

Lunch — An SPS BBQ! See details above.

1:00 PM

Tour: Mt. SAC Physics Facilities
Martin Mason—Mt. San Antonio College

1:15 PM

Invited Talk: "How I killed Pluto and why it had it coming"
Mike Brown—California Institute of Technology

For the past seven years we've been scanning the skies for planets beyond Pluto. In 2005, after a search of about half of the sky and the discovery of dozens of objects almost the size of Pluto, we finally found Eris, the first object larger than Pluto, and the first that might have been called a new planet. In addition to a new avalanche of scientific questions, this discovery drives home the need to answer a question that astronomers have been unwilling to answer for years: "What is a planet?" I'll discuss the story of the discovery and try to give a perspective on why the question of planethood is difficult and why the new class of dwarf planets was created to describe all of these objects.

2:15 PM

Contributed Talk: "Newton's Laws Poster Set"
Kevin John—Sonoma State University

This presentation will introduce a recently released set of education posters designed by the NASA E/PO group at Sonoma State in support of the Swift mission. The four poster set includes Newton's three laws of motion and law of gravitation. The presentation will include an overview of the product, a brief review of the scientific concepts it covers, and a short discussion on in-class activities to assist educators in teaching these concepts. An online version of the Newton's Laws Poster set can be viewed here.

2:30 PM

Contributed Talk: "Bernoulli Blew It!"
Fred Carrington—Pierce College

There appears to a problem in applying Bernoulli's Equation as it is applied in many textbooks. I will point out one of these problems and suggest a way out of the dilemma. After all, even Bernoulli didn't suck all the time.

2:45 PM

"Show'n Tell"

Don Krotser: "A science fair Dobsonian telescope: image and altitude of the sun"
Walter Christensen Jr.: "Calculating Earth's mass from a water balloon drop

3:15 PM

Contributed Talk: "Staying in Focus - an Online Optics Tutorial on the Eye"
Barbara Hoeling—Cal Poly Pomona

We are introducing an interactive online optics tutorial that is being developed at Cal Poly Pomona. Aimed at middle or high school teachers, it explains the optical design of the human eye and the operation of glasses in a qualitative, non-mathematical way. Short videos demonstrate the use of simple, inexpensive optics equipment for hands-on activities in the classroom. Interactive drawings and animations allow the user to further explore the material. This tutorial could also be used as an introduction to geometrical optics and the eye for freshmen physics and premed students.

3:30 PM

Contributed Talk: "Facilitating active learning with Ubiquitous Presenter and TabletPCs"
Edward Price—CSU, San Marcos

Ubiquitous Presenter (UP) is a digital presentation system that facilitates spontaneity and interactivity in the classroom. Using the system, students with web-enabled devices can add digital 'ink' or text to the instructor's slides and submit them to the instructor. I have used this system to facilitate interactive engagement techniques in an introductory physics class where students worked in groups on TabletPCs. Class time was used for Interactive Lecture Demonstrations, Peer Instruction, and group problem solving. I will describe the implementation of these activities with UP and TabletPCs, show examples of student contributions, and describe the impact on the classroom setting.

3:45 PM

Contributed Talk: "Mediawiki, centralized website management"
Martin Smith-Martinez—Mt. SAC & Cal Poly Pomona

An online presence for a course allows for another mode of communication between teacher and student. The small benefits running a course website do not alone justify each individual faculty learning HTML. Mediawiki is a freely available suite which centralizes the task of running a web server but simplifies the basic task of creating and editing a website in addition to a great deal of functionality like a revision history and the ability to easily show mathematical formulas.

4:00 PM
The World Famous "Order of Magnitude Contest" and Door Prizes
4:15 PM
Meeting Adjourns

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