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Spring 2011

Spring 2011 Meeting 
Announcement and Program Schedule
Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI
April 16, 2011

Program Highlights

We are honored to welcome David Sokoloff (U. of Oregon), President of the American Association of Physics Teachers, as our featured speaker.  David is a nationally and internationally recognized leader and researcher in physics education.  He has been awarded the 2007 AAPT Robert A. Millikan Award and the 2010 Excellence in Physics Education Award by the American Physical Society.   

David will deliver the keynote address, entitled Active Learning of Introductory Optics:  Strategies for the U.S. and the Developing World.  He will present a 2-hour workshop for K-12 teachers and college faculty highlighting research-tested curricular materials he has co-authored with Priscilla Laws and Ron Thornton, RealTime Physics and Interactive Lecture Demonstrations.

We will also have a special contributed informational session by Michael Hartman, a faculty member in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences at the University of Michigan.  He will discuss the physics of nuclear power plants and share insights into the ongoing crisis resulting from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  

Program Overview

Location: Sessions and workshops will take place in the Seymour & Esther Padnos Hall of Science on the GVSU Allendale campus.  For campus maps and directions to the Allendale (main) campus of GVSU, visit their website at:  (Padnos Hall is labeled building 55 and is located in region F-4 on the campus map found at the above URL.)

Parking: Parking is free on Saturday in all campus lots.  The most convenient lot to use is Lot F, located along Campus Drive directly opposite Padnos Hall.  

Lunch: Recommended dining options may be found in Commons (building 8), adjacent to Padnos Hall.  

  • Conferees may dine at the “Fresh Food Company,” a market-style all-you-can-eat restaurant located in the upper level of the Commons.  Cost of lunch is $8.75. 
  • Alternatively, the lower level of Commons features an upscale food court, “Fuel,” with Bleecker Street Café (a “Panera style” eatery), Jump Asian Express, and Papa John’s Pizza.  

Hotels: For those who wish to stay overnight for the meeting, local hotel information can be found online at:  Recommended hotels include: 

Sleep Inn & Suites, Allendale, MI:, (616) 892-8000

Days Inn, Downtown Grand Rapids:
(616) 956-9304 or toll free at (800) 426-7866

Courtyard by Marriott, Downtown Grand Rapids:, (616) 242-6635 or toll free at (800) 321-2211.

Program Schedule

7:30 – 8:10 am Registration/Morning refreshments

Padnos Hall/Henry Hall Atrium

Meeting fee:  $10.00 (FREE for students and first-time attendees)

8:10 – 8:20 am Call to order and welcome

Loutit Lecture Hall 101 (adjacent to Padnos Hall/Henry Hall Atrium)

Michael Faleski, Delta College – MIAAPT President

Frederick J. Antczak – Dean, GVSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

8:20 – 9:20 am Contributed Presentations I

Loutit Lecture Hall 101 (adjacent to Padnos Hall/Henry Hall Atrium)

8:20 – 8:35 Demonstrations of Ionized Radiation

Kevin Dehne, Delta College (

8:35 – 8:50 Teaching Nuclear Science Using Case Studies in Nuclear Forensics

Kathy Mirakovits, Portage Northern High School ( 
Drew Isola, Allegan High School
Cathy Mader, Hope College

8:50 – 9:20 Special Contributed Presentation:  An Overview of Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Power

Michael R. Hartman, University of Michigan (

Prof. Hartman, Asst. Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences at the University of Michigan, will discuss the basic physics of nuclear fission along with the theory and operation of a nuclear power plant.  The talk will focus on developing a basis for understanding the recent events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants in the aftermath of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

9:20 – 9:30 am Break

9:30 – 11:30 am Workshops

Workshop 1: Active Learning in Lecture Using Microcomputer-Based Tools

157 Padnos Hall

David Sokoloff, University of Oregon  (

Note:  Max 24 participants.  Please pre-register via e-mail at:

The results of physics education research and the availability of microcomputer-based tools have led to the development of active learning materials to promote learning in the introductory Physics course. These include hands-on, student-oriented laboratory curricula like RealTime Physics (RTP), and lecture materials like Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs). One reason for the success of these materials is that they encourage students to take an active part in their learning. This mini-workshop will demonstrate—through active audience participation—materials designed to promote active learning in lab and lecture environments. An introduction to the evidence supporting the need for active learning strategies will be followed by participants working on examples of RTP activities. Four modules of RTP labs have been published by John Wiley and Sons: Mechanics, Heat and Thermodynamics, Electric Circuits and Light and Optics. Workshop activities will be taken from these. Participants will then work on examples of ILDs in a number of first and second semester topics. Results of studies on the effectiveness of these approaches in teaching physics concepts will also be presented.

Workshop 2: Using Guided Inquiry to Improve Learning in Intermediate Mechanics

107 Padnos Hall

Brad Ambrose, Grand Valley State University ( 

Over thirty years of research in physics education has demonstrated that introductory courses delivered in a traditional lecture format (“teaching by telling”) do very little to develop conceptual understanding, problem solving skills, and scientific reasoning ability in students.  More recent research has shown that even physics majors—who comprise a small percentage of students who take first-year physics—are not immune to the conceptual and reasoning difficulties identified among introductory students.  In fact, many difficulties identified in the context of advanced physics classes seem to have their roots in basic concepts.  This workshop will provide examples of how research has been used toward the development and refinement of guided-inquiry teaching methods in upper-level courses for majors, focusing especially on intermediate mechanics. 

Workshop 3: Teaching Nuclear Science Using Hands-on Interactive Lessons in Nuclear Forensics

142 Padnos Hall

Catherine Mader, Hope College ( and 
Kathy Mirakovits, Portage Northern High School ( 

This workshop will introduce K-12 teachers to a set of lessons that have been developed to teach nuclear science in the context of the real-world application of Nuclear Forensics.  The lessons provide an exciting context in which to engage students in learning about the basic nuclear science content expectations.  In addition to real-world scenarios that make learning the material relevant, the lessons also provide opportunities for students to be actively engaged in learning either through simulations or experiment.  Participants will be introduced to the lessons briefly and will then work through several activities in nuclear chronometry that will introduce the ideas of radioactive decay, half-life and exponential decay.  Simulations and hands-on experiments will be carried out and discussed.  (Note:  Participants who bring their own laptops will be able to download the simulations and other materials for use during the workshop!)

11:30 – 12:30 Lunch:  Commons dining facility (Fresh Food Company, Fuel)  

12:30 – 1:30 Keynote Address:  Active Learning of Introductory Optics:  Strategies for the U.S. and the Developing World 

David Sokoloff, University of Oregon 

Loutit Lecture Hall 101 (adjacent to Padnos Hall/Henry Hall Atrium)

Widespread physics education research has shown that most introductory physics students have difficulty learning essential optics concepts—even in the best of traditional courses—and that a well-designed active learning approach can remedy this. This presentation will describe strategies for promoting active involvement of students in the learning process. The focus will be on Interactive Lecture Demonstrations1,2, a learning strategy for large (and small) lectures, including the use of personal response systems (clickers), and on RealTime Physics laboratories. These materials have been used successfully by the author in his introductory college level physics course and in a recent series of Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP)3 workshops in developing countries, sponsored by UNESCO, ICTP, SPIE, OSA, NSA and AAPT. Details on the ALOP project will also be presented, including a series of Optics Magic Tricks that are specially designed to promote active learning.

1. David R. Sokoloff and Ronald K. Thornton, Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley and Sons, 2004).

2. David R. Sokoloff and Ronald K. Thornton, "Using Interactive Lecture Demonstrations to Create an Active Learning Environment, "The Physics Teacher 35: 6, 340 (1997).

3. Active Learning in Optics and Photonics Training Manual, David R. Sokoloff, ed., (Paris, UNESCO, 2006).

1:30 – 2:00 pm MIAAPT Business Meeting

Loutit Lecture Hall 101 (adjacent to Padnos Hall/Henry Hall Atrium)

Michael Faleski, Delta College – MIAAPT President

2:00 – 3:45 pm Contributed Presentations II

Loutit Lecture Hall 101 (adjacent to Padnos Hall/Henry Hall Atrium)

2:00 – 2:15 Refraction without Trigonometry – Beaten to It by 400 Years!

David Schuster, Western Michigan University ( 
Betty Adams and Adriana Undreiu, Western Michigan University

2:15 – 2:30 Discovering the Law of Refraction

Betty Adams, Western Michigan University ( 
Adriana Undreiu and David Schuster, Western Michigan University

2:30 – 2:45 Observing and Visualizing Linear Momentum

Michael Faleski, Delta College (

2:45 – 3:00 Why Is It Cold at Night?  Recording Radiational Cooling

Paul Zitzewitz, University of Michigan-Dearborn (

3:00 – 3:15 Mind-On Audio-Guided Activities in Introductory College Physics Courses

James Brian Hancock II, Central Michigan Univ.  (
M. Fornari, Central Michigan University

3:15 – 3:30 Tweetment of Twitter in the Classroom

JT Miller, Thornapple Kellogg High School (

3:30 – 3:45 The Problem with Industry Standard Textbooks

Philip Edward Kaldon, Western Michigan University  (

3:45 pm Adjournment…   See you at Omaha for the Summer 2011 AAPT meeting!

Steve Dickie,
Apr 7, 2011, 2:55 PM