Fall 2011 Meeting at University of Pittsburgh in Johnstown

134 Blackington – University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown – October 22, 2011

8:00 Registration and light breakfast

9:00 Greeting by Paul Ashcraft, President of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Association of Physics Teachers

Opening Remarks – Dr. Steven Stern, the chairman of the Natural Science Division

9:15 Magnetic Induced Broadening of Plasmon – photonics in Fe3O4 – Silicone Elastomer Composite

Danhao Ma (dom5191@psu.edu) Pennsylvania State University, Altoona

Kofi Adu (cxa269@psu.edu) Pennsylvania State University, Altoona

9:30 We report preliminary results on magneto‐optical response of Fe3O4 silicon elastomer composite. The Fe3O4 particles were aligned with static magnetic field. The optical response of two composites containing 5wt% and 15wt% of Fe3O4 particle aligned in‐plane and out‐of‐plane were measured. We observed a systematic redshift in the optical response of the out‐of‐plane samples with increasing magnetic field; obtaining maximum shift of ∼ 150 nm. However, there were no observable shifts in the in‐plane samples. The redshift observed in the optical response of the out‐of‐plane composite is tentatively attributed to the effect of magnetic field and the metal cluster size in the elastomer.

9:30 Student Conceptions of Electric Potential Energy in Introductory E&M

Beth Lindsey, (bal23@psu.edu) Penn State Greater Allegheny

9:45 Potential energy is a conceptually rich topic presenting many difficulties for students. In this talk, I will describe an investigation into student understanding of electrostatic potential energy as typically presented in an introductory E&M course. I will present data on student understanding of potential energy from written questions and from one-on-one student interviews. I will discuss connections to common difficulties with potential energy in mechanics, and instructional strategies that have been shown to help overcome common difficulties.

9:45 Updates on Nanomaterials Research at Clarion University

Vasudeva Rao Aravind, (varavind@clarion.edu) Clarion University, Benjamin Legum, (blegum@clarion.edu) Clarion University, Chunfei Li, cli@clarion.edu, Clarion University, John Heard, jheard@clarion.edu, Clarion University

10:00 As a part of the ‘Nanotechnology’ and ‘Sustainability’ initiative at Clarion University, we have been performing growth and characterization of nanomaterials that have a broad spectrum of significance. Nanomaterials find applications in a diverse array of scientific fields such as medicine, technology, environment, to name a few. In this talk we will provide updates on our material growth and characterization techniques, and talk about possible future plans for our research. We also welcome comments, and future collaboration.

10:00 A Better Parachute: Using Video Frame-By-Frame Analysis to Determine Higher-Order Terms in Air Resistance

Bill Dieterle, (Dieterle@calu.edu) California University of Pennsylvania

10:15 Video capture techniques and frame-by-frame analysis are used in an upper-division mechanics lab to determine the functional form of air resistance as a function of v for student-designed parachutes. Students are encouraged to try novel designs to attempt to increase the power of v to the highest value possible, leading to rapid achievement of terminal velocity after deployment.


10:30 Educational Uses of Video Capture and Analysis in Introductory Physics Courses

Invited Speaker: PriscillaLaws (lawsp@dickinson.edu)

11:00 Three-fold path to Learning physics: Theory, Simulation, and Experiment

Poornima Krishnamurthy, (pkrishnamurt@clarion.edu) Clarion University, Vasudeva Rao Aravind, varavind@clarion.edu) Clarion University, Bruce Smith, (bsmith@clarion.edu), Clarion University

11:15 High school students from Clarion area were educated on how image formation takes place in mirrors and lenses. This was done through three steps which build on one another. First, they were lectured on how image formation takes places in lenses. Later they were guided by a computer simulation to build upon their model of learning. In a following hands-on exercise, they were given real lenses and objects to play with, and were asked to verify the formulas they learned in theory and simulation. Post-experiment test showed that the students developed an excellent understanding of physical principles behind optical imaging.

11:15 My Ideas for Improving Lab: Fabulous or Foolish?

Nick Conklin, (conklin003@gannon.edu) Gannon University

11:30 I will share some of the ideas that I have been trying in my (traditional style) physics labs and how students have reacted to them. I am very interested in feedback from the group.

11:30 Development and Application of Tube Furnace for Nanomaterial Synthesis

Chunfei Li, (cli@clarion.edu) Clarion University, Virgil Solomon (vcsolomon@ysu.edu) Youngstown State University, Sebastien Maeder ( smaeder@engr.psu.edu) Pennsylvania State University, Matthew Kelly, (M.W.Kelly@eagle.clarion.edu) Clarion University, Chad Welsh, (C.M.Welsh@eagle.clarion.edu), Clarion University, Ivan Zhuravlyov, (I.L.Zhuravlyov@eagle.clarion.edu), Clarion University, Jon Bartz, (fiveyearswinter@gmail.com), Clarion University

11:45 A tube furnace for nanomaterial synthesis was developed. The furnace temperature can be raised to a maximum of 1200 oC. The vacuum is typically pumped by a mechanical pump and a base vacuum of 3×10-1 torr was obtained. For nanomaterial synthesis, raw materials, either the mixture of oxides powders or alloys, are placed in the center of the furnace. And four to six silicon substrates of 5 cm length are placed in the vicinity of down stream furnace exit. Interesting results were obtained in the ZnO-In2O3 a, ZnO-Ga2O3, and ZnO-Cu2O system.

11:45 Do students know how to apply their math knowledge to solve physics problems?

Dyan McBride ( dmcbride@mercyhurst.edu) Mercyhurst College

12:00 We’ve been investigating the way students think about physics, math, and chemistry, and looking at similarities in their reasoning patterns. I’ll present part of a project asking students to explain what mathematics was necessary to solve a variety of physics problems. The results show that students are able to quickly and appropriately activate some of their mathematics knowledge, but struggled with other concepts, particularly integration.

Lunch at the Student Union – cost is $9.15

1:00 Using Video Analysis for Introductory Mechanics

Bill Bradley, bradley15226@verizon.net, New Castle Area School District

1:15 I would like to present some of my experiences using video analysis in a first-year high school Physics course.

1:15 The Elitzur-Vaidman Bomb Paradox as a laboratory exercise

Patrick Hecking (phecking@thiel.edu) Physics Thiel College

1:30 The Eliztur-Vaidman bomb though experiment involves a quality test for a bomb, which is triggered by a photon. Defective “bad” bombs do not react to the photon, “good” bombs explode. Classically it is impossible to test a “good” bomb and certify that it will work without exploding it and therefore making it useless. Quantum Mechanics – with a classically impossible superposition – makes such a test possible. A lab exercise using dice for probabilities and a score sheet has been developed to simulate this paradox in a fun-filled game.

1:30 Of Conservation Principles and Tables

Lilian Wehner (wehnli@whsd.net) Woodland Hills School District

1:45 This paper outlines a procedure to teach conservation of energy and momentum problems in general, and mixed circuit problems as well. It consists of organizing the given data on a table format, and then manipulating the rows and columns until the problem is solved completely. The operations performed on the rows and columns stem from the conservation principle involved. In my experience, when done correctly, students can solve complicated mixed circuits (of 4, 5 or 6 elements) in a minute or so, and energy problems just as fast. This is true even of students who don’t grasp conservation principle equations immediately.

1:45 Epistemic knowledge levels observed in students’ comparisons of self-selected homework problem pairs

Kendra Sheaffer (kes5246@psu.edu) Penn State Altoona ,

Fran Mateycik (fam13@psu.edu) Penn State Altoona

2:00 Students in an algebra-based physics course were asked to choose the two problems they found to be the most similar in each of their homework assignments. The two problems selected were explicitly compared and contrasted in writing. The written statements were divided by clause topics and further categorized into levels of epistemic reasoning. Emergent trends within the data were then analyzed in more detail. In this talk, I will describe how students’ level of epistemic reasoning changes throughout the semester and how the physics context may elicit variance in the observable epistemic reasoning.

2:00 Business meeting, book give away

2:15 AAPT/PTRA workshop Teaching Physics for the First (or Fiftieth) Time: Waves & Optics

Where: 148 Krebs

This AAPT / PTRA workshop will explore the topics of waves including optics. While ideas for activities will be presented and tried out, we will focus on making the activities more productive using verbal and written assessments (formative and summative) and incorporating more frequent writing into the physics classroom. Participants will be given copies of all activities, a make and take standing wave generator, and a copy of Ranking Tasks in Physics by T. L. O’Kuma, D P Maloney, C J Hieggelke ( a $35 value). This workshop would be valuable to teachers of physics or physical science for grades 6-12 and university conceptual or algebra based physics as well teacher educators.

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