Physics Education Resources

It has been a while since my last list post, and I feel like focusing more on my mission for this blog. With this in mind, I would like to share a list of my favorite resources for physics teaching and physics education research (PER). Hopefully some of these are familiar, and if you use others, let me know in the comments section.

  • MIT Open Courseware
    • A growing collection of course materials from MIT. I find these to be most useful as a reference to see what other students are seeing in Physics. There can be a lot of flexibility in a curriculum and as a young professor, I like to see what other people are doing in their courses. There are a lot of reasons that I can’t use these courses verbatim, but it’s nice to see what is happening at a leading institution.
  • Concept Tests (PER@C)
    • One of the easiest things you can do for your course in Physics is to check student conceptual understanding. It is most insightful to pre- and post-test and it’s important not to use these as for-credit exams. This is a test of your abilities as a teacher more than a test of your students… the sooner you come to terms with this idea the better.
  • NCSU Concept Test links
    • Another list of concept tests for a wide variety of courses.
  • PhET Java-based Concept Simulations
    • Ever thought there had to be a better way to teach a new concept? Sometimes all it takes is a good simulation and giving students a chance to tinker around with some different scenarios. Many of the PhET sims are designed to help students build intuition as a preparation to a more thorough understanding.
  • PER Central
    • A general resource for Physics Education Research.

I’m sure there are many other good sites, but these are the ones I end up referring to quite a bit. In the future, I will discuss these topics in other posts, so feel free to contact me with any questions about how I’ve used these resources.

Sustainable Electronics

photo credits: www.flickr.com/photos/ladyada/3039492078/

photo credits: ladyada @flickr

This fall Physics 364 (Electronics) will have a project component. Pacific has chosen Sustainability as a campus-wide theme for this academic year, and with this in mind, I will encourage the class to consider projects that explore the application of technology (electronics, physical computing, etc.) to improving sustainability. This can be challenging as technology is often viewed as a culprit in the current global crisis. One major challenge for the project, is to transcend this view and demonstrate ways technology can help us in a global sense.

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Job Search: he shoots, he scores!

Well you may have noticed a lack of new posts for a few weeks. Chalk it up to me entering the initial thesis-writing phase, combined with job applications, interviews, and the general associated chaos.

The good news, of course, is that the job search process has gone well. After two enjoyable interviews, I have received my first offer (let’s say it’s from from Liberal Arts College A). I’m trying to find out as much as I can from Liberal Arts College B before too long, in order to make the decision as informed as possible. This is the funny gray area that everyone always talks about. I have been leaning towards A, and I’m very excited to have an offer from them… but it a lot of ways it’s like “deal or no deal”… I wonder what is in case B.

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Article Widget

Article WidgetIt’s been around for a bit, but I figured I should post about a little side project I’ve been working on. As a physicist, I spend a lot of time tracking down citations; and typically they are in a handful of journals. Rather than bookmarking the journal homepage or search box, I realized that reverse-engineering the search URL for each journal was pretty simple. After that, it was just a matter of wrapping a little mac dashboard widget around them and presto: 1-click article retrieval.More details at the project page: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~dawes/computing/articlewidget.php