Poster Session Abstracts

Poster Presentation Abstracts:

Laurence I. Gould:  University of Hartford

Critical Thinking about Claims of Human-Created “Climate Change”: A Way to Enhance a Student’s Scientific Enquiry

Many arguments have been made that — as a result of human activities which emit greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide) — there is a dangerous trend of increasing global temperatures so as to result in physical events such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and increased storms. This presentation will — through a critical analysis of some of those arguments and methodologies — show how curious students can seek a deeper understanding and thus enhance their ability at scientific inquiry.

Gary Smith: St. John’s Preparatory School

Photonics RET @ Boston University

During the summers of 2010 and 2011, I worked at the BU Photonics Center as part of an RET research grant. During that time, I gained many valuable insights into the world of nanotechnology and current issues in engineering physics.  I’ve taken many of these lessons with me to my physics classroom, where I teach high school juniors and seniors.  The BU-RET program was administered by BU-Lernnet director Cynthia Brossman and Prof. Michael Ruane of the BU-ECE department.  My cooperating professor was Hatice Altug of the ECE group.  Our collaboration resulted in the production of dual sets of instructional materials that could be used both my me, and by Prof. Altug in her course “Introduction to Nanotechnology.”

Mark D. Greenman: Boston University

Physics Professional Development – Closing the Knowledge Gap

During the summers of 2008 through 2012 five cohorts totaling 114 secondary school teachers responsible for teaching physics concepts enrolled in a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education funded summer institute hosted at area Universities to enhance the teachers’ physics content knowledge and to improve their use of research-based best practices in teaching physics.
The content knowledge gap between male and female science teachers was reduced from a gap of 25% to 6%, and the gap between physics majors teaching physics and other science majors teaching physics was reduced from a gap of 31% to 8%. The average paired fractional gain for these participants was .68 with teachers in every comparison group showing strong gains (.57 to .74).  Just as encouraging, these gains showed little decay over time. The Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE) tool, developed at The Center for Science and Mathematics Teaching at Tufts University was used to measure teacher conceptual understanding, and a paired pre/post-test format was utilized to look at change in teacher content knowledge.

Caroline E Odden: Phillips Academy

Astronomy Research for High School Students at the Phillips Academy Observatory

Student projects included a light curve for NEO 2012 TC4, the discovery of a contact binary, and light curve for a main belt asteroid using the school’s 16” telescope.  It is quite possible to provide high school students with authentic research experiences, particularly if one’s school is blessed with an observatory.

Mark D. Greenman:   Boston University

PhysTEC at Boston University

The PhysTEC grant awarded to Boston University is helping to encode in the DNA of the physics department a culture that sees basic physics research and excellence in teaching as dual missions of a strong physics department. Boston University, a large research university located in an urban center, is working with area school districts to increase the number of highly qualified high school physics teachers. The experience of working with pre- and in-service physics teachers has had the added benefit of encouraging reflection within the physics department on strategies for effective teaching and learning. Physics majors are being encouraged to become undergraduate Learning Assistants, so physics majors graduating from Boston University will provide more effective instruction in physics, whether in the role of high school teacher, teaching assistant in graduate school, or research physicist mentoring and educating another generation of physicists.

Margaret E McCarthy: Springfield Technical Community College

Laboratory Exercises for Astronomy Course

The NSF sponsored license exempt software of Project CLEA [Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy] was adapted to demonstrate digital laboratory exercises.  Several CLEA programs and Class Action exercises were integrated with WebAssign™ work sheets, including stellar spectral classifications, Hubble’s Law and Earth in Space.  The virtual computer experience eliminated weather related night viewing.  These computer based exercises were matched with existing optics apparatus.  A full list of the laboratories will be discussed.  The Seymour Planetarium within walking distance provided contact with a telescope.  Other local resources include:  a sun wheel, and contact with local amateur astronomer groups.  Student costs were limited to one text book, calculator, and a registration fee to Webassign™.

John K. Dayton Department of Physics, American International College

Survey of an Astronomy Course offered at a Community College

Two physics faculty, one from a community college and, the other from a four year private college, developed a contemporary four credit transferrable astronomy course using joint and local resources to present a new course at no cost to either institution.  The rationale of the need for the course, process of initiation, curriculum committee presentation, course objectives, and the offering of the course will be outlined.  A time line of the one year process will be presented.