SPS Zone Meeting
October 16, 2015 to October 17, 2015
Davidson CollegeMeeting host: SPS Chapter:
The SPS Zone 5 meeting, held at Davidson College this year, was a great success. There were 30 undergraduate students from across the state in attendance (Wingate University, UNCA, UNCC, CVCC, Davidson College, etc.) who registered for and participated in the meeting. The meeting coincided with several other schools’ fall breaks, so this prevented a few chapters from participating. There were 10 undergraduate research posters presented in a dedicated 1-hour SPS Poster session. There were refreshments on tables in the presentation areas and this allowed all 80+ participants to roam through and interact with the poster presenters.
On Friday night, students attended two lectures by invited guest speakers Dr. Eric Mazur (Harvard) and Dr. Abigail Mechtenberg (Notre Dame). The seminars pertained to physics education, particularly regarding introductory physics for pre-medicine and engineering students. Dr. Mazur discussed the importance of social interaction and group dynamics aside from just the transfer of information in the teaching and learning process. It was entertaining and informative, especially from a student’s perspective, to hear how physics teaching has developed over the past century and how our professors are searching for the best ways to disseminate physics knowledge.
Early Saturday morning, students gathered for coffee in the first floor lobby of the Dana science building on campus and set up their posters. At 9 AM they attended a contributed talk by Dr. Aaron Titus of High Point University entitled “The Physics of the The Martian.” Dr. Titus discussed how he has implemented the novel and recent feature film into an introductory physics course and how the story has many physically accurate aspects. At 9:15 AM students went to the basement of the science building to discuss best practices and SPS opportunities with Dr. Randy Booker (Zone Counselor from the University of North Carolina in Asheville) and Ryan Kozlowski (Associate Zone Counselor from Davidson College). Ryan and Dr. Booker informed students about the importance of writing chapter reports; the opportunities that SPS National membership affords, including scholarships, professional society membership, and internships; and the upcoming Quadrennial Physics Congress (PhysCon).
Afterwards, two invited talks occurred: first, Dr. Mazur lectured on teaching introductory physics with conservation laws prior to kinematics and Newton’s laws as is done in the standard curriculum. Next, Dr. Abigail Mechtenberg (Notre Dame) spoke about project-based learning and experimental design, a new curriculum for energy physics courses, and issues regarding electrical energy access in various less-developed parts of the world.
Everyone at the meeting then went to the Davidson Commons for a hearty lunch, and upon returning to the science building, students had the opportunity to ask a panel of three Davidson physics alumni about their experiences in undergraduate studies, post-undergraduate opportunities, and current plans. This event was very successful and a large number of students attended. Following, several students went outside for a solar viewing and time to relax a little. This was just right for taking a breather and getting to know one another better.
Lastly, students participated in the physics t-shirt giveaway at the end of the AAPT meeting; each one got a shirt and other small item, such as outreach kits and Cambridge University press books.
About the NCS-AAPT MeetingAreas of Alignment: