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Pedagogical Goals for Teaching about Alexander Graham Bellís Metal Detector

By Ebone' B. Pierce

Supervisors: Dr. Sytil Murphy and Dr. Dean Zollman

Kansas State University Physics Department  REU Program, sponsored by NSF

This program is funded by the National Science Foundation through grant number PHY-0851599.


Welcome to my webpage.  This page summarizes my experience doing research for the Summer 2010 at Kansas State University in the lab of Physics Education Research. Modern Miracle Medical Machines (MMMM) project at Kansas State University, an activity is under development to teach the physics of electricity and magnetism to undergraduate physics students and to undergraduate students that are not physics majors that want to learn more about physics in medical imaging. We were trying to find different techniques of how students can learn basics physics, mainly in the areas of electricity and magnetism. We used similar actions of Alexander Bell in the 19th Century when President Garfield was shot. Doctors tried to help him, but during that time many medical materials were not invented so they used their unsterilized fingers inside of the wound causing infection. Alexander Graham Bell had recently invented the telephone and he insisted on using his recent discovery on President Garfield to make a metal detector to detect the bullet inside of him. Alexander Bell used a battery, two coils of insulated wire, a circuit breaker, and one telephone. Bell invented the induction balance to cancel out line interference on his telephone. We prepared a modern day metal detector using some ideas from Alexander Graham Bellís attempts of perfecting his metal detector. The plan is to turn this into an experiment for inexperienced physics students in the subjects of electricity and magnetism. Physics Education Research is an important part of any physics department and should use everyday experiences as examples to teach physics to students.

Below, I describe the Project Goals, my Research Strategy, my Research Progress, and will eventually post my Final Presentation and Final Report.  I post my homework assignments from our weekly REU scientific Ethics class, taught by Prof. Bruce Glymour and Prof. Amy Lara, and my reaction to Prof. Larry Weaver's Lectures.   Scroll all the way down to learn more About Me.  Finally, I've included some Useful Links.


Summary Statement: As previously stated in my welcome, my research project is based off Modern Miracle Medical Machines (MMMM) because this was an attempt of early medical imaging at the time. An experiment Alexander Graham Bell once did in the 19th century, which he builds a metal detector, to detect the bullet inside of President Garfieldís body. We build a metal detector and turned it into a lesson plan for students in electricity and magnetism lesson.

Project Goals:  To provide pedagogical strategies for a better way of teaching electricity and magnetism to students through a hands on experiment.

Research Strategy:  My strategy is to build a metal detector and implement teaching strategies for students on how electricity and magnetism works.

Research Progress:

Week 1

Interview Physics Education Research Graduate Students on what their research consist of.

Week 2

Began reading Alexander Bellís papers

Week 3

Conducted experiments on Human Eye Model and Wave front Abberometry experiment

Week 4

Learned about basic circuits

Week 5

Build a Wheat Stone Bridge

Week 6

Learn about Electricity and Magnetism

Week 7

Build metal detector

Week 8

Test metal detector


Final Presentation:  My Powerpoint Presentation (pptx)

Final Report: My Final Report (pdf)

My Apparatus: A video of my functioning apparatus (QT)

Lectures by Dr. Weaver: I am very impressed with all of Dr. Weaverís lectures. I know that I am only a sophomore and do not have as much experience in higher physics classes than most students in the REU Program, but Dr. Weaver makes me feel comfortable and explains thoroughly every subject matter he has to talk about. I never feel left out or do not understand because Dr. Weaver will make sure I understand everything. I will use all of my notes from Dr. Weaverís lectures in the near future and they will be a great help for my higher physics classes that I will begin to take.

Ethics Class: I enjoy ethics class very much. I like to hear other peopleís opinions and views on different subjects. I have high standing morals that I believe in and that no one can take away from me.

About Me:  I attend Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. My majors are Physics and Mechanical Engineering. I am a very determined out going young lady that strives to do the best in everything that I do.

Useful Links:

American Physical Society Statements on Ethics

American Institute of Physics

My Research group's home page