To provide access to contemporary physics for in-service teachers the
group's postdoc, Kirsten Hogg, has been developing an online course.
This course involves a combination of web-based instruction with
experiments that the teachers can do at home or in their schools.
Some fo the equipment that the teachers need for these experiments is
available in their schools while others will be shipped to students
who enroll in the course. With partial funding from the Department of
Education, Dr. Hogg has designed a large number of web pages that
involved interactions as the teachers work through the materials.
Some of the interactions are simply responding to questions with the
responses being stored so that an instructor at K-State may read and
comment on them. Others involve the online version of our award
winning visualization and modeling software. This course is now
available for credit through the KSU Division of Continuing
A new project began in January, 2001, and focuses on aspects of
student learning of physics. With funding from the Research on
Learning and Education program of the National Science Foundation,
the Physics Education Group will study some aspects of what seems to
block students learning of physics and what contexts are most
conducive to learning. In preliminary work leading up to this project
Dr. Hogg and then postdoc Lei Bao found that students could sometimes
apply a concept correctly in one context. However, when given what
seemed to be an indentical situation but a different scenario, such
as changing the collision of football players to the collision of
automobiles, the students were unable to be as successfuul. The
problems with transferring the knowledge from one application to
another and the transfer of knowledge from math courses such as
trigonometry to physics will be the focus of this three-year research
effort. In addition to the physics Education Group, Andy Bennett,
Associate Professor at Ohio State University, will be part of the
The Physics Education Group is
in the process of adding a tenure-track faculty member at the
Assistant/Associate Professor level for the first time in many years.
The candidate should have experience in
completing research and development related to the learning and
teaching of physics, a record of quality teaching,
and an ability to supervise physics doctoral and masters students in
In addition we will also appoint a research associate to begin by
september 2001. The primary focus of this
position will be on research and development related to students'
applications of models in physics and
mathematics and the use of technology to aid in assessment of these
applications. More information about the KSU
Physics Education Group and these positions can be found at
Lei Bao, former postdoctoral research associate, left KSU to take a
tenure-track position at The Ohio State
University in August of this year. We will be collaborating with Bao
on a new ROLE proposal from the NSF that will be
funded shortly entitled "Technology & Model Based Conceptual
Assessment: Research in Students' Applications of
Models in Physics & Mathematics."
Kirsten Hogg, research associate, is beginning to plan her return to
Australia following the AAPT Summer
Meeting this year. In the meantime, she is designing a new online
physics course for teachers and other students.
In this course students will study and discuss the models that have
been developed and experiments that have
been performed by physicists during the Twentieth Century. They will
begin the course by considering the observing
of light emitted by a variety of everyday objects and learn how the
projects of that light can help build models of
very small objects such as atoms and moelcules. Then, they will see
how a fundamental model(quantum
mechanics) can be used to explain their observations and describe
very small objects and apply this model to
molecules, atoms, and objects smaller than atoms.
Former research associate Michael Thoresen and former undergraduate
lab director Suzanne Maleki were
married in June of this past year. Suzanne has joined Michael in Iowa
where he is a faculty member in the physics
department at the University of Northern Iowa. Former graduate
student Lawrence Escalada is also a faculty member
at UNI. Larry and his wifr Alison are now the proud parents of their
first child, Alexander Escalada who was born
March 7, 2000.
Dr. Zollman presented a talk, "Quantum Mechanics for Everyone: Can It
Be Delivered Through Technology?,"
at the Conference on Simulation and Multimedia in Engineering
Education in San Diego, in January, 2000. The KSU
PERG held a workshop Conceptual Quantum Mechanics for Science and
Engineering Students with the Physics
Education Group from the University of Maryland this summer at the
American Association of Physics Teachers
Summer Meeting in Guelph, Canada. Dr. Zollman gave the keynote
address in December of 2000 at the Australian
Institute of Physics Congress in Adelaide, Australia.