PICUP Summer 2021 Virtual Workshop

July 6, 2021 - July 19, 2021: Asynchronous Materials (Self-Guided Sessions)

Participants should plan to thoroughly view and work through these materials in preparation for the Synchronous Sessions starting on July 20. To get the most out of the synchronous part of the workshop, participants should expect to spend a few hours (maybe a bit longer?) with these materials.

Some of the videos below point you to protected content on the PICUP website,  If you have not already registered as a verified educator on the PICUP site, click here to register.

Introduction to PICUP and the PICUP Website

PICUP Overview

PICUP Website


This series of videos shows how to make use of some basic spreadsheet functionality to build computational models, and includes a review of the simple Euler Method for solving a first order differential equation in the context of solving Newton's 2nd Law. The series culminates with an implementation of a model of a Falling Sphere without air resistance. Any spreadsheet program can be used to follow along, and work through the content in these videos.

Building a Control Panel - Excel/LibreOffice

Building a Control Panel - Google Sheets

Basic Iterative Calculations and Building a Kinematic Problem Solver - Excel/LibreOffice

Basic Iterative Calculations and Building a Kinematic Problem Solver - Google Sheets

Review of Simple Euler Method

Falling Sphere without Air Resistance


Create a free account at Trinket.io.  If you don't see a course titled "PICUP Virtual Workshop", contact one of the organizers to get access.  Go to the Orbital Motion Activity page in the course and keep this open in one browser window.  In a second browser window open the following videos to follow along as we work through the 2-Body Gravity exercise set.

Video Part 1 - Getting started

Video Part 2 - Earth around the sun

Video Part 3 - Moon orbiting the Earth

Video Part 4 - Graphing gravitational energy


Tuesday, July 20: Synchronous Session 1 (all times Central time zone)

12:00-12:15 Introduction, Workshop Agenda, PICUP Website and Collections

12:15-12:30 Small Groups Introduction

12:30-1:00 Importance of Learning Goals and Computation Implementation Space

Learning Goals

Computation Implementation Space

Short presentations by Working Group Leaders:

  • Introductory Mechanics with Spreadsheets - Kelly Roos (Bradley University)
  • Introductory Mechanics with Glowscript - Deva O'Neil (Bridgewater College)
  • Computation in Large-Enrollment Classes - Danny Caballero (Michigan State University)
  • Upper Level Mechanics (Spreadsheets/Glowscript) - Ernie Behringer (Eastern Michigan University)
  • Introductory E&M with Glowscript - Todd Zimmerman (University of Wisconsin-Stout)
  • Computational Physics Course (Python/Jupyter) - Larry Engelhardt (Francis Marion University)
  • Modern Physics Course (Glowscript/Jupyter):  Brian Lane (University of North Florida)

1:00-1:15 Choose Working Group | Short Break

1:15-3:15 Guided working group activity: work through a sample computational exercise

3:15-3:45 Benefits and Challenges of Integrating Computation

3:45-4:00 Wrap-up and HW assignment

For the HW assignment, each participant is to develop a computational activity, based on a well-defined learning goal, that can be assigned to students in the upcoming academic term. Participants should plan to give a brief presentation on their plan at the Thursday "Showcase" session.

Wednesday, July 21: Synchronous Session 2 (all times Central time zone)

12:00-1:00 (or longer as needed) Working Group Help Session: Meeting with Group Leader

Small Group Meeting links

Thursday, July 22: Synchronous Session 3 (all times Central time zone)

12:00-1:30 Participants Showcase

The showcase provides an opportunity for participants to briefly report on the computational activity or assignment under development for their students to work on in the upcoming academic term. The Thursday session will be primarily dedicated to the showcase; each participant should prepare a slide or two for a 3-5 minute presentation.

1:30-1:45 Conclusion and Post-Workshop Support