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Abstract Title: Nested coordinates in graphical representations in physics
Abstract: When creating graphical representations in physics, spatial dimensions on the writing surface are used to stand for physical quantities. Sometimes these quantities are literally spatial (the position of a particle), and sometimes they are more abstract (e.g., velocity, time, electric field, complex amplitude of an energy eigenstate). When one spatial dimension is used to represent more than one physical quantity, the "multiple-occupancy problem" is created: How do thinkers stay organized, keeping two (or more) separate meanings for one spatial dimension in ways that these meanings can be used productively? We introduce the idea of "nested coordinates" as a common solution to this problem. We analyze some familiar diagrams using this framework and provide a theoretical account of why certain diagrams cause confusion for students. We also provide an example of how nested coordinates can be used to create a graphic for spin-1/2 systems.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Hunter G Close
Texas State University-San Marcos
601 University Dr.
San Marcos, TX 78666
Phone: 5122458103
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Eleanor W. Close, Texas State University-San Marcos
David Donnelly, Texas State University-San Marcos

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster