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Program for the Fall 2009 meeting


Saturday, 14 November 2009
University of San Diego

Meeting Room: Theater, Joan Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice
(West end of campus, registration on East side of building.)

Local Host: Greg Severn

CALL FOR PAPERS (deadline passed)
Contribute a 15 minute talk or a brief demo for the Show'n Tell segment using the online submission form or communicate directly with the program chair, Jeff Phillips. The deadline for contributions for this meeting is Friday, 30 October.

Options include an all-you-can-eat breakfast/lunch at the new Student-Life-Pavilion for approximately $10. We've been informed as of Friday morning (11/13) that the dining pavilion will not be open for lunch after all, but that they will be supplying box lunches with drinks for $10 (cash ony, no credit cards.)

See information posted at the USD Physics website. Online maps and directions are also available at the campus visitors' web page.

All parking spots are available (except the spots marked as reserved 24/7). Parking is free and almost unrestricted. See maps linked to above.


APS Division of Plasma Physics Research (donating a plasma ball door prize)
Cambridge University Press (donating 10 copies of The Plasma Universe)
Sargent Welch/CENCO

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.

"At what temperature does a body's radiance peak in the AM band?"
The person giving the median answer is the winner and gets first pick of the door prizes.

Some people will be coming to San Diego on Friday and enjoying a more leisurely Saturday morning. We plan to have an informal dinner/dessert/drinks get together at the Zocalo Restaurant Old Town, 2444 San Diego Avenue on Friday evening. Consider playing hookie or simply taking off a little early and joining us.

There are many hotels on Hotel Circle (just off of Interstate 8 between Interstate 5 and 163) and all are about two miles from the University. The following three have been suggested by people who know the area:

Best Western Seven Seas
411 S. Hotel Circle
Phone: 619-291-1300
Some have reserved for as low as $72 per room.

Best Western Hacienda Hotel-Old Town
4041 Hamey St.
Phone: 619-298-4707
This is the University's choice. More expensive than BWSS.

If you plan to come by the train, the following is about 3 blocks from the station. (Make sure you choose an Amtrack route that drops you off at the Old Town Station.)

Padre Trail Inn
4200 Taylor St.
Phone: 619-297-3291
This can be slightly less expensive than either of the above.

All of the hotels listed above give AAA discounts. Also, we've have been told that if you mention that you are going to a convention at USD, they may give you a lower rate.

If you do plan to join us Friday evening, please let John Mallinckrodt (who will be staying at the Best Western Seven Seas) know in advance so he can be sure that you have the latest information about the Friday evening gathering and can try to help organize carpools for those coming by train.

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

Workshop: "Construction of inexpensive momentum and energy collision carts and track"
Leader—Bill Layton (UCLA) & Bob Baker (University Senior High School)

The cost of the materials is $20. (Space is limited to 10 people Please send a reservation to Bil Layton.)

Department Tours
Tours of the USD department facilities, guided by student members of the USD SPS and Chemistry Club, will be available until 10 AM.

10:00 AM

Welcome and announcements
10:15 AM

Contributed Talk: "Clicker use in Large Introductory Physics Lecture Classes"
Speaker: George A. Kuck (
Inst: CSU, Long Beach

Abstract: Clickers are being used to try to increase the learning gains in my lecture classes of more than 100 students. The key for successful implementation is the quality of the questions matched with the daily identification of the critical concepts. Clickers support a more active learning environment and better implementation of peer instruction. They provide feedback on the integration of demonstrations with the lecture content. However, many students were concerned that the clickers were taking important class time that could have been used to show them how to solve problems. Clickers help meet the challenge of teaching large lecture classes but the learning gain does not balance increased class size.

10:30 AM

Contributed Talk: "Journal-style Lab Reports in the Advanced Physics Lab Courses"
Speaker: Ertan Salilk (
Inst: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Abstract: We will present about transformation of a lab course to add strong writing component to improve physics learning. Our practice includes: 1- Teaching data analysis and basic experimental techniques and background in Optics, 2- Three experiments in a 10-week quarter, 3- Each student submits a paper, which is reviewed by both the instructor and other students. Students are asked to revise and resubmit based on the feedback. 4- Finally, students present their work to each other. In short, current practice allows students to spend enough time to address deeper questions, written and oral sharing of their work, just like a researcher does.

10:45 AM

Contributed Talk: "Fighting the bean counters. Laboratory science classes at dangerous numbers."
Speaker: Gary Reynolds (
: Santa Ana High School

Abstract: Many California school districts have required high schools to enroll students in laboratory science at numbers that violate safety rules published by the California Dept. of Education. Lab science teachers are forced either to expose themselves to liability risk by knowingly violating safe lab practice, or fraudulently teaching a course accredited as laboratory science without actually including a laboratory curriculum. I won't accept either, and have chosen to fight this. This presentation is about my experience in this so far.

11:00 AM

Invited Talk: "The Effect of Interactive Instruction in the Astro 101 Classroom: Report on a National Study"
Speaker: Alexander L. Rudolph (
Inst: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Abstract: We have conducted a national research study designed to determine the effect of interactive learning strategies on students' conceptual learning in general education astronomy courses (Astro 101). Nearly 4000 students at 31 institutions, (4-year and 2-year) around the country participated in the study. Our results show dramatic improvement in student learning with increased use of interactive learning strategies independent of institution type or class size, and after controlling for individual student characteristics. In addition, we find that the positive effects of interactive learning strategies apply equally to men and women, across ethnicities, for students with all levels of prior mathematical preparation and physical science course experience, independent of GPA, and regardless of primary language. These results powerfully illustrate that all categories of students can benefit from the effective implementation of interactive learning strategies. The presentation will make use of Classroom Response Systems (aka "clickers") allowing participants to experience interactive learning firsthand.

12:00 PM

Business Meeting

12:30 PM

Lunch (See important last-minute update above!)

1:30 PM

Invited Talk: "Plasma physics from fusion to plasma processing: cool ideas in the physics of hot stuff"
Speaker: Greg Severn (
Inst: University of San Diego

Abstract: Thermonuclear fusion in the plasma state of matter is Nature's way of turning the lights on in the universe. On a much smaller scale, we on earth do much the same thing with plasma technology, as the view of the night side of the earth from low earth orbit attests. However, in between these high temperature and low temperature plasmas exist a wide variety of technologies based on plasma science, from fusion reactors to micro-chip etchers, which have profoundly affected modern society. Irving Langmuir's pioneering work in plasma science at GE in early 20th century focused on how the plasma state of matter adjusts to solid (metallic and insulating) boundaries. Much of the theory of plasma boundary physics has only recently been put to experimental tests (some of which were performed by a University of Wisconsin-Madison and USD research collaboration) leading to some surprising results, which will be described.

2:30 PM

"Show'n Tell"

James Lincoln "Toy Box Physics," Bill Layton "Quick and simple energy and momentum collision demonstrations," and many others!

If you wish to give a Show & Tell presentation, sign up at the registration table in the morning.

3:00 PM

Panel Discussion: "What can we learn from initial experiences with Physics First?"

Dan Lavine, Dominic Dirksen and Mike Horton will discuss assorted positions on the effectiveness and possible extension of Physics First. It is hoped that this discussion will encourage participation with teachers present from San Diego who have direct experience with this program.

If you have a comment or question that you would like to have the panel consider, please send it to Bill Layton.

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

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