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Program for the Spring 2012 meeting


Saturday, 21 April
CSU San Marcos

Meeting Room: ARTS 240
(Visual and Performing Arts Building)

Local Host: Charles DeLeone

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, Ertan Salik. The deadline for contributions has passed.

Catered lunches will be available for $8. The options will be roast beef, turkey, ham, and veggie. The full menu includes a build your own sandwich, a beverage, a cookie, a 1 oz. bag of chip, and a cold salad (maybe a pasta salad)

IMPORTANT!! Please indicate your interest in purchasing lunch using this reservation form by April 17 at the latest!


Campus Map from CSUSM website
Driving Directions from CSUSM website

Parking is free ONLY in Lot N toward the northeast corner of campus
Local map to Lot N
Small Campus Map
To get to the meeting room, walk through the parking structure to the elevator. Take it to floor 6 and walk across the pedestriam walkway. Follow signs to ARTS 240


WH Freeman
Perfection Learning

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.

For how long could human population grow at its current rate before it would be standing room only?
The person giving the median answer is the winner and gets first pick of the door prizes.

Program Schedule  
8:30 AM
Registration, Refreshments, Exhibits
and Poster Preview

8:30 -
9:30 AM

[WORKSHOP] "ClassAction: A Powerful Tool for Active-Learning Sequences"
Rica Sirbaugh French
MiraCosta College

A common complaint from instructors trying to implement learner-centered pedagogy in the classroom is the lack of high-quality, research-validated tools and curricula. ClassAction is a freely available, research-validated suite of roughly 800 tools, including interactive simulations and animations, multiple-choice and discussion questions, images, tables, and topic outlines. While designed for introductory astronomy, there are a few resources for some topics in physics, chemistry, earth science, and more advanced astronomy, all of which permit instructors to design and implement interactively engaging sequences tailored to their classroom needs. Bring your laptop and practice constructing your own learning sequences.

9:35 AM

Welcome and Announcements
Jeff Phillips, President SCAAPT

9:45 AM

Contributed Talk: "How Experiments Work"
Greg Severn
University of San Diego

The AAPT’s first goal for the introductory physics laboratory has to do with the Art of Experimentation, and the commonly held belief that it is a good thing for students to gain experience with designing investigation. This talk will address this issue in connection with experiments designed to illustrate quantum phenomena, and the interface between the classical and the quantum worlds. We will look at one of Einstein’s few experiments, in particular. By becoming familiar with how experiments are designed, students can learn to design better experiments.

10:00 AM

Contributed Talk: "How to Build Your Own Computer Cluster (and why you would want to)"
John Price
CSU Dominguez Hills

The computer cluster is an incredibly useful tool in physics today. While its applications in the research environment are well-known, such as data acquisition, analysis, and presentation, it is equally useful as an educational tool. This talk will discuss how to build a computer cluster for very little initial investment, how to maintain it at peak operating capacity, and some of the ways in which a computer cluster can be used in your class lessons.

10:15 AM

Contributed Talk: "Introducing San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant"
Chris Abel
Southern California Edison

My presentation will include a discussion of how the plant operates; the safety design of the plant, including seismic and tsunami readiness; how SONGS handles and stores spent fuel; the environmental impacts of the plant and corresponding mitigation efforts; as well as emergency planning.

10:30 AM

Invited Talk: "The Happy Marriage of Pedagogy and Technology in the Physics Classroom"
Charles De Leone and Edward Price
CSU San Marcos

The last 20 years have seen extensive innovation in physics pedagogy and classroom technology. The CSUSM Physics Department has been at the forefront of this national effort. The Department's introductory physics course for life science majors features non-traditional content sequences and pedagogy; a model-based approach introduces energy before force, and most class time is spent on small group work and whole class discussions. The Department has also employed innovative classroom technology such as clickers, tablet PCs, screencasts, and photo-sharing websites. These two efforts haveinformed each other leading to results that would not have been possible with either alone. This talk will describe both strands of our work and highlight interesting and unexpected interactions arising from using classroom technology to facilitate innovative pedagogy. We will explore applications to other settings and provide opportunity for discussion.

11:30 AM

Business Meeting
Bylaw and Consitution changes (Update: both motions passed)
Officer Elections (Update: The nominated officers were elected!)


Lunch and Poster Session

The Center for Astronomy Education (CAE)Teaching Excellence Workshops and Regional Teaching Exchanges, Rica French, MiraCosta College

The Longest Day: A Geometry-based Astronomy Exercise, Tim Heumier, Azusa Pacific University

Optical Phase Measurement, Ertan Salik, Cal Poly Pomona

Thinking in Physics and Gender Effects, Vince Coletta, Jeff Phillips, and Raquel Sena, Loyola Marymount University

1:15 PM

Contributed Talk: "Enhancing the Educational Astronomical Experience of Non-Science Majors with the use of an IPad and Telescope"
Robert Gill
CSU San Marcos

General education (GE) classes are designed to broaden the understanding of students in areas outside their major interest. However, most GE classes are lecture type and do not facilitate hands on experimental or observational activities related to the specific subject matter. Utilizing astronomy application programs (apps), currently available for the IPad and IPhone, in conjunction with a small inexpensive telescope allows students unique hands on experiences to explore and observe astronomical objects and concepts independently outside of class. These activities enhance the students overall GE experience in a unique way not possible prior to the development of these technologies.

1:30 PM

Contributed Talk: "Bogus Astronomy - Examples for Teaching Scientific Reasoning"
Tim Heumier
Azusa Pacific University

Critical thinking requires stopping to think, and having means to formulate a judgement. The latter requires having a background from which to form an opinion. I will present examples of bogus astronomy found on the Internet that I use to help my students exercise critical thinking, applying what they have learned in astronomy to separate fact from fallacy. These examples include the "Mars as big as the Moon" hoax and the ever-recurring "NASA finds the missing day."

1:45 PM

"Show'n Tell"

FREE High-Quality Interactive Resources for Teaching Astronomy, Rica French, MiraCosta College

Determining the Age of a Sample of Radioactive Dice, Tim Heumier, Azusa Pacific University

Evil Simplicity: University of Maryland's Question of the Week Physics Demo Site, Stephen Tsui, CSU San Marcos

2:00 PM

Invited Talk: "The Hunt for the Higgs Boson"
Vivek Sharma

In a tunnel 100 meters below the Franco-Swiss countryside, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, has roared into action. In 2011, this collider provided more than 400 trillion proton-on-proton collisions at a center-of-mass energy of seven trillion electron-volts. After a brief description of the LHC collider and the CMS and ATLAS detectors at CERN, I will focus on the hunt for the elusive Higgs Boson, the quantum particle associated with an all-pervading Higgs field hypothesized to explain the origin of mass in our universe.

3:00 PM

Contributed Talk: "UCSD Video Project for Conceptual Physics Courses"
Michael G. Anderson

The idea behind the UCSD video project is for the student to find a topic that they are interested in and to explore it further. The goal is for them to explain a physical concept to someone with their level of skills and abilities. This project has been undertaken in four separate quarters in a conceptual physics course (Physics 10: Winter 2009, Winter 2010, and Winter 2012) and a more mathematically rigorous survey course (Physics 11: Fall 2010). Student projects will be shown and student attitudes towards the project will be discussed.

3:15 PM

Contributed Talk: "District-wide Physics Teacher Coordination"
Bob Rumer
California Lutheran University

The Oxnard Union High School District formed a PLC among its science teachers in 2010-2011. The six physics teachers in the district started meeting to address their common challenges and share experiences. CLU informally partnered with these teachers to exchange ideas and best practices.

This presentation will discuss the activities of the PLC and the impact on the teachers. It is our hope this may serve as a model for other districts and colleges in the future.

3:30 PM

Contributed Talk: "Optical Phase Shifts and the Nightmare of Conventions"
Ertan Salik
Cal Poly Pomona

The phase shift that occurs upon reflection from a dielectric surface is an interesting yet elusive topic in undergraduate and graduate level optics courses. We have recently described several experiments to make such phase shift measurements accessible to undergraduate optics students. (American Journal of Physics, March 2012, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp. 216) Study of Fresnel equations which describe the theory of reflection-induced phase shifts from various optics textbooks reveals apparent inconsistencies. In this talk, we will present on various conventions that must be used to reconcile the inconsistencies between the textbooks.

3:45 PM

Contributed Talk: "Using 'Wordles' to Stimulate Student-Teacher Intereactions"
Patrick M. Len
Cuesta College can be used to generate graphical representations ("wordles") of word frequencies. Student word associations for a given topic are compiled using, and then the resulting wordle can stimulate discussion. Typically, introductory astronomy students are initially prompted to describe a topic ("Milky Way," "big bang," or "Mars," etc.) with up to five words/concepts, and the resulting wordles are used to as an informal but powerful graphical tool to identify and address misconceptions in subsequent instruction, and to track the decrease in misconceptions and increase in proper conceptual understanding of a topic from pre- to post-instruction. Similarly, introductory astronomy and introductory physics students are prompted to list midterm topics they find interesting (or confusing), and the resulting wordles are used to identify and address common topics of interest (or confusion) to be discussed in class.

4:00 PM

Contributed Talk: "Introductory Gen Ed Science Courses, CATS, and the Center for Astronomy Education (CAE)"
Rica Sirbaugh French
MiraCosta College

Each year, approximately 500,000 college students around the country take an introductory astronomy or geoscience course – the only and usually last exposure to science for most of them. The Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) and the Collaboration of Astronomy Teaching Scholars (CATS) are devoted to improving teaching and learning in introductory GE science courses, particularly “Astro 101.” By conducting research on student beliefs and reasoning difficulties, as well as instructor implementation difficulties related to teaching, we develop research-validated curriculum and assessment materials and conduct Teaching Excellence Workshops designed to increase instructors’ pedagogical content knowledge and improve implementation.

4:15 PM
The World Famous "Order of Magnitude Contest" and Door Prizes
4:30 PM
Meeting Adjourns

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