Physics Education Seminar Series

Experiment Driven Introductory Physics Education

Professor Karen Cummings

Southern Connecticut State University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

There are several very good reasons why experiment and observation should be the foundation of the introductory physics course, regardless of the student population served. From pre-service elementary school teachers to the Physics Ph.D.s of the future, our students all benefit from introductory courses that are based on the idea that physics is fundamentally a data-driven, model building and testing process. Such courses are in contrast to the norm in which presentations of a collection of facts and mathematical abstractions are exclusively confirmed in esoteric introductory lab experiments.

Agree? Disagree? Concerned? Angered? Come discuss the issues. I will discuss models of experiment/observation driven courses used at large R1 universities (including the Studio Physics courses at Rensselaer) and discuss the courses that I currently teach at Southern Connecticut State University. In addition, I'll show off my new calculus-based introductory physics textbook published by Wiley and Sons. This book, like the courses that I advocate, employs a How do we know this? Why do we believe this? approach throughout.

Thursday, November 6, 2003
1:00 PM
Gant Science Complex
Physics Department
Room P121


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