2014 Fall Meeting – October 4, 2014 University of Michigan Flint 

Full Program (PDF)

Program Highlights

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Jeff McMahon as our featured speaker. Dr. McMahon is an experimentalist who studies cosmology and fundamental physics through measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Measurements of the temperature fluctuations of the CMB have yielded a rich set of cosmological results including evidence that the universe is spatially flat; measurement of the contents of the universe including dark matter and dark energy; and constraints on inflation: the theory of our universe's first moments. While measurements of the CMB temperature are reaching maturity, CMB signals including its polarization, gravitational lensing, and small scale secondary anisotropies have yet to be fully exploited. Measurement of the spatial pattern of CMB polarization will constrain the energy scale of inflation which could provide a unique window into physics at the grand unification (GUT) energy scale. Measurement of CMB lensing will provide a tight constraint on the sum of the neutrino masses and through cross-correlations with external data sets will provide a measurement of astrophysical bias which will multiply the cosmological impact. Measurements of the CMB temperature at very small angular scales have potential to improve our understanding of galaxy clusters and dark energy. Professor McMahon and his research group collaborate with the ACTPol, the South Pole Telescope (SPT), and the MUSTANG2 teams to pursue these research topics. Their work spans instrumentation development, observations, and data analysis through to cosmological results.


This meeting is held in conjunction with UM-Flint’s and Longway Planetarium’s AstroNite community open house. It is a fun-for-all-ages event! It will start at 7:00 PM. Click here for more info.

Door Prizes

We have some door prizes donated by PASCO, Vernier, and Pearson Education which will be distributed during the afternoon session, see the schedule below. You will want to be there for the drawing!

Program Overview

Program Schedule - Saturday, October 4th

7:30 - 8:00 am Registration/Morning Refreshments

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

Location: Entry to 107 MSB

8:00 – 8:15 am Call to Order and Welcome

Alan Grafe, University of Michigan-Flint – MIAAPT President

Vahid Lotfi, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Programs,

University of Michigan-Flint 

Location: 107 MSB

8:15 – 10:15 am Contributed Presentations

Location: 107 MSB

8:15 - 8:30 

Yellow + Cyan + Magenta ≠ BLACK: And a Few Other Things that Nobody Ever Taught Me.

Michael C. LoPresto, Henry Ford College.lopresto@hfcc.edu

8:30 - 8:45 

Changing Perception of Modern Manufacturing in Middle School

Ron Schlaack, Delta College, ronaldschlaack@delta.edu

8:45 - 9:00 

Exploring Supersonic Gas Jets using Mach-Zehnder and Nomarski Interferometry

Ayana Ghosh, University of Michigan-Fling, ayanag@umflint.edu

9:00 - 9:15 

How students achieve satisfactory solutions while solving problems in groups

Alanna Pawlak, Michigan State University, pawlakal@msu.edu

9:15 - 9:30 

The Ballistic Pendulum – Revisited

Michael C. Faleski, Delta College, michaelfaleski@delta.edu

9:30 - 9:45 

SuMO Camp: Introducing Physics Activities into A Summer Math Camp

Christopher M. Nakamura, Saginaw Valley State University, cnakamur@svsu.edu

9:45 - 10:00 

Teaching and Assessing Conceptual and Language Issues: Learning Gains and Students’ Views

Rex Taibu, Mallinson Institute for Science Education: Western Michigan University, rex.taibu@wmich.edu

10:00 - 10:15

Geometric Optics--A Slight Change of Prescription

Dr. Laurence Tarini, University of Michigan, Flint / Lansing Community College, laurence.tarini@gmail.com

10:15 – 10:30 am Break

10:30 – 11:45 Morning Workshops

Workshop #1 - All Heated Up!

Mandy Frantti, NASA, Munising High School, mpfrantti@hotmail.com 

Location: 169 MSB

Participants will consider heat energy vs. temperature and how we “see” heat, starting with common and familiar examples, such as baking a cake, the abstract and impressive, like interstellar space and black holes. Students hold many misconceptions about heat and temperature, and finding ways to dispel those misconceptions is a challenge to teachers. Use the excitement of space to teach about heat and temperature! Participants will be able to engage in several simple activities/demonstration that can be taken back to the classroom. Participants will receive NASA materials.

Workshop #2 - Motion Encoder System for Introductory Physics Labs

Chris Pearson, University of Michigan – Flint, pear@umflint.edu 

Location: 163 MSB

The new motion encoder system offered by Vernier (http://www.vernier.com/products/lab- equipment/dynamics/vds-ec/) provides a new way of performing labs for introductory courses. The motion encoder system eliminates the struggles often encountered with obtaining clean data from motion detectors using ultrasonic pulses. Workshop participants will use the motion encoder system along with dynamics carts and track for a variety of experiments including motion with constant acceleration, inelastic collisions, and elastic collisions. Adaptor pieces that have been developed to permit the use of existing Pasco products will also be shown.

Workshop #3 - AstroNite: A Case Study in Astronomy Outreach

Rajib Ganguly, James Alsup, University of Michigan-Flint, ganguly@umflint.edu jalsup@umflint.edu

Location: 119 MSB

Astronomy outreach provides an excellent opportunity for informal science education. At the University of Michigan-Flint, we offer a free, family-oriented, open-house style event once per semester called AstroNite. We will draw upon our experiences with AstroNite to help participants plan their own astronomy event, including a discussion of potential community/university partnerships, advertising challenges, and demonstrations of several of activities that we offer. Workshop participants will also be invited to observe (or even help) with the next AstroNite event which will take place on the evening of October 4 from 7-10PM.

11:45 - 1:00 pm Lunch

1:00 - 2:00 pm Keynote Address: New Physics with the Cosmic Microwave Background 

Dr. Jeff McMahon,

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (jeffmcm@umich.edu) 

Location: 107 MSB

The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) is the afterglow of the big bang and the oldest light in the universe that we can observe. Measurements of faint signals encoded in this radiation have already provided unique information about fundamental physics and general relativity. Recently the signature of gravitational waves generated by quantum fluctuations when the universe was only 10^-34 s old may have been detected. If this result holds it will represent the discovery of physics at an energy scale a trillion times higher than will be probed by the Large Hadron Collider and the first observation of an effect of quantum gravity. However, much work must be done to confirm this detection. In this talk I review what the CMB observations have already taught us and discuss tests for new physics that will be enabled by the coming generation of CMB experiments.

2:00 - 2:30 pm Poster Session

Location: Entry to 107 MSB

2:30 - 3:00 pm Puzzlers! And Door Prizes!

Location: 107 MSB

3:00 - 3:30 pm MIAAPT Business Meeting

Location: 107 MSB

3:30 - 5:30 pm Afternoon Workshops

Workshop #1 - Make and TakeJames Gell, Plymouth High School, james.gell@pccsk12.com and Steve Dickie Divine Child High School falconphysics@gmail.comLocation: 163 MSBTopic: Participants will have the opportunity to construct apparatus that are usable for classroom demonstrations of physics phenomena by the teacher or which will serve as a model for constructing a classroom set for student use. These apparatus will be constructed of inexpensive and easily-attainable material available from hardware stores, building supplies, and online stores. Construction can be accomplished using common tools such as drills, saws, and fasteners. Participants will have the opportunity to construct and practice with the following apparatus: tube and string model generator, LED color mixer, normal force demonstrator, greek waiter tray, and electrophorus.

Workshop #2 - Guided inquiry instructional materials for gravitation and orbital mechanics

Bradley S. Ambrose, Grand Valley State University ambroseb@gvsu.edu 

Location: 119 MSB

If you are a college/university faculty member or an AP physics high school teacher, you are invited to learn about and acquire research-tested guided inquiry activities on Newton’s law of gravitation and selected topics in orbital mechanics. Workshop participants will learn about recent results from the research in student learning of central forces and conservation laws. They will also obtain firsthand experience with guided inquiry tutorials on these topics, which have been developed as part of the Intermediate Mechanics Tutorials project.* We will also discuss how these materials can be adapted to meet student and instructor needs.

[*B. Ambrose and M. Wittmann, NSF grants DUE-0441426 and DUE-0442388]

Workshop #3 - Modeling + Computation: Project-based Learning in Introductory Physics

Marcos D. Caballero (caballero@pa.msu.edu) & Paul W. Irving (pwirving@msu.edu) Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State UniversityLocation: 169 MSB

Most introductory physics courses emphasize the acquisition of conceptual and procedural knowledge, but fail to prepare students to engage in the practices of science and to encourage students to develop a physics identity. We have designed a new introductory mechanics course that engages students in science practice through the use of modeling projects. By engaging students in the authentic practice, we aim to help students appropriate the practices and understanding of a physicist while they also develop a physics identity. This workshop will discuss the design and implementation of this course; participants will also engage in a modeling project.