I teach the calculus-based Intro Physics sequence, currently called PHY202 (2017 Syllabus) and PHY203 (2016 Syllabus) (formerly PHY110 and PHY111). The courses introduce many core physics concepts such as motion, energy, charge, and waves. More importantly, the course trains students to approach problems in a rigorous and logical way, relating conceptual understanding to mathematical approaches.
In this course I use a number of research-backed teaching techniques, including:
- Flipping Students prepare before classtime by watching video lecture, working through online tutorials, and/or reading the texbook
- Team Based Learning Students work in teams to take quizzes as well as do in-class activities to practice applying their knowledge
- Active Learning and Peer Instruction Students spend class time generating knowledge through working through different activities and problems; deeper learning occurs through discussion with their peers
- Interactive Lecture Demonstrations Students predict and explain behaviors of in-class demonstrations
I am the facilitator for our electronics lab. Previously this was a 2-semester sequence (PHY242 and PHY243), but this is now a single semester, 4-credit class with lab (PHY240, 2017 Syllabus). Students in electronics make tutorial videos that are posted to YouTube. These short videos cover the basics of components, circuit design, and even LTSpice simulation. I try to use a ‘modern’ approach to electronics – students build projects based on the Arduino platform and have the opportunity to use our 3D printer.
I teach our “Advanced Lab” course, PHY311. Students have the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of fields of physics through hands-on experimentation. This advanced course develops a number of translational skills, such as creating professional-quality reports using LaTeX, maintaining a careful lab notebook, data analysis with Python, and non-linear fitting using Minuit.
PHY150: Waves Around the World, Physics and Global Music
In fall of 2016, I co-taught this new course with Dr. Tracey Laird of the musics department. PHY150 is a Summit in STEM course, as a Global Learning Across the Liberal Arts course. The description:
This course provides answers to many musical questions using physics: “Why does a zurnah sound different from a ney? Or a french horn from a bugle?” “Why does every culture recognize the interval of the octave?” We will cover both music topics like pitch, instrumentation, intensity, and quality; and physics topics like standing waves, interference, and frequency analysis. Students will work in teams to pursue measurements relating physics and music during class time, a model that fully integrates lecture and lab. Examples of music and instruments will be pulled from around the world, highlighting the cultural-specific aspects of music from the physics fundamentals. Students will present a final project consisting of a self-designed investigation of a musical phenomenon.