PICUP Member Spotlight
How/what inspired you to get into teaching computation?
When I started teaching I used simulations that were created by others. At the time I thought they were very good and helpful. However, once I was substituting for a professor who was teaching graduate electrodynamics to a class of about six students. During one of these sessions, we were discussing some problems where visualization was key and I was not able to think of a way to describe it in a more accessible way. Interestingly, one of the students had his laptop in front of him and I knew that the class was leaning Computational Physics as well. So, I suggested that we quickly code the solution in Mathematica and the whole class was able to feel the excitement of having a solution that they could visualize and play around to understand the effect of each of the variables. This was when I decided that as far as I could I would have computation as an integral part of my teaching.
Why did you get involved with PICUP?
I teach at a very small liberal arts college and isolation is real. PICUP provided me with a community and resources that I could rely on.
What benefit has your involvement with PICUP had to you, your teaching, and/or your students?
One of the direct benefits of PICUP are the exercise sets that can be used as is or modified to suit the class/course. The exercise sets, the professional development workshops and the support that PIPUP provides has been very beneficial to me. Specifically, the ability to share ideas and discuss with other faculty that are teaching (or have taught) the same course as you are; to get ideas about what might work (or not work) in a classroom; to understand how to assess student learning etc. have been a boon.
Tell us a bit about how you use computation in (or outside of) your classroom.
I have used computation to teach introductory Physics labs where students work with a minimally working code to model/predict the outcome of an experiment before actually performing an experiment. This past semester I also taught a sophomore/junior level Computational Physics course where the students actually envisioned and coded simple video games as their final projects.
Outside of the classroom, I use computation in research. I sometimes work with my seven year old son coding various things that might be of interest to him. Lately I have been thinking of organizing "An Hour of Code" activities for middle school students.
What is your favorite thing about teaching computation?
The ability to show students that realistic situations can be modeled using computation. Also for them to realize the limitations of computation. The algorithmic way to work out a solution, a powerful idea that they will use their entire life!
PICUP Virtual Meetings
Thursday, December 20, 2018 9:00pm EDT
Topic: General check-in about the semester and open discussion
All are welcome to join in the discussion and report on any new computational activities you've tried, or computational education-based observations you've made over the semester. Hope to see you there!
Follow this link to join in: https://msu.zoom.us/j/691666190.
Most Recent Meeting
Early December PICUP Community Meeting (online via zoom.us) - December 4, 2018 @ 9:00pm ET
In this meeting, Larry Englehardt and Kelly Roos will discuss the editorial and review process for materials submitted to the PICUP collection. Join the Strutting Rooster and Lawrence of Florence for what should be a fun and educational meeting.
For online community interaction, PICUP uses the team communication environment at slack.com. The slack channels range from bulletin board-type announcements of events and activities of PICUP interest to in-depth discussions on how to integrate computational activities into introductory and advanced undergraduate physics courses.
Hit the SLACK logo below to request an invitation to join the PICUP TEAM at SLACK