Plenary Presentations

Friday 13 March, 5:15 – 6:15
Hollyweird Science: From Quantum Quirks to the Multiverse (Science and Fiction)
– Fictional science is grounded in real-word, and often cutting-edge, scientific discoveries and technological advances. Enjoy examples of the portrayal of science and technology on both the big and little screen — and see how Hollywood is doing a better job of getting it right than ever before. Depictions of topics such as quantum mechanics, parallel universes, and alien worlds will be explored through the viewpoints of writers, producers, and directors of acclaimed science-themed productions as well as scientists, science fiction authors, and science advisors.

Kevin R. Grazier, Ph.D. performs large-scale computer simulations of early Solar System evolution. He was a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the Cassini/Huygens mission to Saturn. He served as the Science Advisor for the film Gravity and for multiple science fiction series, including Eureka, Defiance, Ascension, Falling Skies, and the Peabody Award winning Battlestar Galactica. His new book, Hollyweird Science – From Quantum Quarks to the Multiverse, will be published by Springer in mid-May 2015.

Friday 13 March, 7:30 – 8:30
Inviting Students Into the 21st Century
Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood, North Carolina State University
– In the early 1900s it was not unreasonable to assume that most students who took physics in college were going to go out and maintain pumps and build bridges. In 2015 that’s no longer a reasonable assumption. The interesting problems of the 21st century are difficult and complex, and typically involve the intersection of several disciplines. Our students will work on climate change and sustainability, on medicine and cellular biology and ecology, on information security, on the design of wearable computer hardware, on energy production and storage, and on problems we haven’t yet thought of. The introductory physics course can support these students by inviting them into the 21st century, building on the insights and paradigm shifts of 20th century physics. The structure of matter and macro-micro connections, the primacy of a small number of fundamental principles, the process of constructing, testing, and extending physical models, and computational modeling that allows students to see how complex behavior can emerge from simple physical rules, should all be central in 21st century introductory physics.

Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood are co-authors of Matter & Interactions, a calculus-based introductory physics textbook that integrates contemporary and classical physics by making macro-micro connections and emphasizing fundamental principles. They have played a major role in developing the VPython interactive 3D programming environment and integrating computational modeling into the introductory physics curriculum. In 2014, upon receipt of the AAPT’s 2014 Halliday and Resnick Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Physics Teaching, they commented “… introductory physics doesn’t have to be about inclined planes, and computational modeling can enable students to analyze complex systems, even at the introductory level.” Chabay and Sherwood are both Fellows of the American Physical Society and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University.

Saturday 14 March, 10:45 – 11:45
Twenty first century needs and Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE): Preparing your students for success
Eugenia Etkina (in collaboration with A. Van Heuvelen), Rutgers University
– Success in the 21st century is determined by one’s ability to pose problems and seek multiple solutions, to evaluate assumptions, and to cope with uncertainty in the answer. Companies are more interested in people who can work in a team and communicate than in those who know a lot of information. How do we prepare students for these challenges? In this workshop participants will experience a learning system for physics courses (ISLE – Investigative Science Learning Environment) that naturally and seamlessly helps students develop the above abilities and can be implemented without major revisions of the course infrastructure.

Eugenia Etkina is a physics educator (a former high school physics teacher) who directs the physics teacher preparation program at Rutgers University and works in the field of Physics Education Research (PER). Eugenia’s research focuses on physics, student reasoning, epistemology, language, and representations. She has been instrumental in developing and spreading the concept of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) in physics, and in creating and implementing professional development focusing on PCK. With Alan Van Heuvelen, she is a co-creator of the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) – an approach to teaching and learning physics that helps students learn physics by engaging in activities that mirror the practice of physics. She is also a co-author of a newly published ISLE-based textbook College Physics and the companion Active Learning Guide.

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