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QP lessons for high school

by SteveM19
Tags: lessons, school
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SteveM19
#1
Apr11-11, 07:03 PM
P: 11
Cam someone help me out please -- I teach school to incarcerated students at a county facility. My background is in liberal arts and education -- not physical science -- but I am getting there. I am taking a course on physics and astronomy and am reading up on QP.

WHat I am looking to do is to teach a lesson on basic QP to my students. Although they have made poor choices to get where they are, most of them are quite intelligent and I would like to take a shot at teaching QP to them. Are there any links or references that are particularly helpful? Thank you for your time.
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Spinnor
#2
Apr11-11, 08:25 PM
P: 1,375
Quote Quote by SteveM19 View Post
...

WHat I am looking to do is to teach a lesson on basic QP to my students. Although they have made poor choices to get where they are, most of them are quite intelligent and I would like to take a shot at teaching QP to them. Are there any links or references that are particularly helpful? Thank you for your time.
Do they want to learn quantum physics or is that what you want to teach them? Lots of cool things to learn, what interests them?

Do they have access to computers so that they can go online?

I would think it most interesting to do actual physics problems involving math and a calculator. Learn basic physics first. I enjoyed doing elementary physics problems involving Newton's Laws of motion. Might give them confidence to learn more complex physics. Crack open a basic physics text and do some problems?

Good luck!
Fewmet
#3
Apr11-11, 09:28 PM
P: 329
When I started teaching high school physics I had a great talk with a professor at a local college. He emphasized the value of showing students the counterintuitive. Quantum physics certainly qualifies.

I am not sure there is much of substance you can do without building up from fundamental physics. If you want to do something qualitative and just expose the students to the extraordinary ideas, look into George Gamow's Mr Tompkins in Wonderland (in any of the various printing and slight variations on the title). There are short stories about a man dreaming of a land where quantum and relativistic effects are readily observable.

Richard Feynman's presentation of wave-particle duality through double slit experiments is engaging... it is in his collected lectures. Or you might look at the experimental results of the photoelectric effect experiments. That can give a good sense of the advantage of seeing light as quanta rather than as waves.

Maybe look into the Cassiopeia Project's material on quantum physics for ideas about how to frame it. It is available for free through iTunes University.

Andy Resnick
#4
Apr12-11, 07:35 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 5,539
QP lessons for high school

Quote Quote by Fewmet View Post
If you want to do something qualitative and just expose the students to the extraordinary ideas, look into George Gamow's Mr Tompkins in Wonderland (in any of the various printing and slight variations on the title). There are short stories about a man dreaming of a land where quantum and relativistic effects are readily observable.
This is a great idea. And to echo the other responder, what is your learning objective?
SteveM19
#5
Apr13-11, 07:58 PM
P: 11
Thanks for the replies and assistance.

One, I want to teach them a physical science in a way that holds their interest, and that I grasp, and physics seems to be the best way to move forward. Second, I wanted to teach a subject with curriculum that isn't hurt by my lack of lab space -- I can do some things as far as motion and, I would guess, fluids in my classroom, and not be at so much of a comparative disadvantage to a regular HS science classroom. Chemistry, for example, isn't going to happen where I am.

Third, I personally like the quirky aspects of QP, and what little I knew before I read a book on the matter was the fact that just observing your subject changes the behavior. Someone mentioned the two slit trick and I just (tenuously) learned about wavefunctions factor into them. The math for a wavefunctions , or Schrodinger's equation, is probably not going to happen -- I am only slowly grasping it myself -- but I think I could relate how wavefunctions make the two slit trick occur.

Anyway, that is the start of what I am trying to do. Again, I barely have a physical science background, and I jumped into QP ahead of classical physics, that's a little off but it's just how things worked out. I still have a lot to learn about QP to even get through the equivalent of a semester of an undergrad course in it, but it's a work in progress.

One other thing -- my student turnover is probably the highest anywhere in education. My students are not exactly hardened criminals, at least most of the time. I get a lot of truants, knucklehead domestic violence charges, and drug users. The average stay in my facility is about 2 weeks. I am always getting someone new and a few kids get released or transferred to Ohio Dept of Youth Services each week. (DYS is prison if you are under 18 -- juvenile felons and the like, not a place you want to be.) I have made the mistake of trying to bring everyone up to speed on some basic mathematical points like multiplying and dividing scientific notation, and exponents, and after my 3-4 day unit I had almost half of my class turn over. I've now decided the best thing to do is to just drive forward on top of what I have done and try to bring everyone up to speed at once. It's worked out well so far, but then again, I haven't tried to much in the area of QP yet!
Fewmet
#6
Apr13-11, 10:21 PM
P: 329
SteveM19: I understand your drive to focus on the extraordinary. As I wrote previously, learning about the counterintuitive can compel a student to learn more.

As someone passionate about science education, I see a downside, too. Presenting something like the Uncertainty Principle or the duality of matter without the context of the experimental evidence or the underlying principles is really asking the student to take it on faith or on authority. That is fundamentally anti-scientific. Objective evidence is what should be doing the convincing.

I can see, though, that you might have different goals. You speak clearly as someone who wants to act to the benefit of your students. It could well be that nudging someone in your population toward academic interest could be life-saving. You would know better than I: my experience is all in a private high school.

Those 28 years in that setting nonetheless convince me that a command of the laws of motion can be like-changing. I regularly see how empowering applying those ideas can be. A small critical mass of understanding addresses such a wide range of phenomena. It is pretty spectacular that the principles governing the motion of atoms and planets also explain why we shake wet hands off (making the water a body in motion that remains in motion). The same is true for stomping feet to get the snow off, or for shoveling gravel. You need not set up controlled lab situations to see the laws of motion all around you.

If you want to pursue that approach, I highly recommend Hewitt's Conceptual Physics.
jamesnb
#7
Apr13-11, 11:19 PM
P: 37
University of Colorado at Boulder has a good number of computer simulated physics labs. I use them for my high school students.
http://phet.colorado.edu/
Andy Resnick
#8
Apr14-11, 08:11 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 5,539
I'm just going to throw this out, because I tried it in class and saw a lot of 'light bulbs' turn on- it may seem wacky, but I got enough positive feedback to think about developing it further.

I drew the analogy between certain aspects of quantum mechanics and money. My goal was to make some of the 'counterintuitive' aspects more intuitive.

The first analogy is obvious- money is quantized. It makes no sense to speak of something costing 0.00001 dollars, or 3.14159 dollars.

The second analogy is this- I held up a dollar bill and asked "what is this?" Most students said "It's a dollar." Some said "It's a piece of paper." Both were correct, and it led to a discussion about how money has two aspects: the physical object (a piece of paper, a piece of metal), and what the object *represents*- 'value', the ability to exchange the piece of paper for something else, etc. Similarly, in QM we have abstract mathematical representations of physical objects.

Like I said, it's a little wacky. But the students 'got it' immediately, and so I think it's worthwhile developing further.
SteveM19
#9
Apr16-11, 08:42 PM
P: 11
Thanks to all for your help.

Right now, I'm prepping a lesson on plain old boring nonlinear motion, and am going to mention at the close of the unit how physics at the atomic level differs from the Newtonian concepts we are discussing.
Andy Resnick
#10
Apr17-11, 05:27 PM
Sci Advisor
P: 5,539
Nonlinear motion is *far* from boring! Besides fracture and chaotic states, nonlinear motion involves all kinds of really bizarre dynamics: turbulence, for example. In fact, if the universe obeyed linear motion, *that* would be boring- no life, no phase transitions, everything utterly and completely predictable.
SteveM19
#11
Apr17-11, 05:54 PM
P: 11
Quote Quote by Andy Resnick View Post
Nonlinear motion is *far* from boring! Besides fracture and chaotic states, nonlinear motion involves all kinds of really bizarre dynamics: turbulence, for example. In fact, if the universe obeyed linear motion, *that* would be boring- no life, no phase transitions, everything utterly and completely predictable.
Ouch! I just got yelled at
Andy Resnick
#12
Apr19-11, 07:44 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 5,539
Heh... I think the correct term around here is "slapped with a fish".. but no yelling or slapping intended. :)


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