Joint UMN/Twin Cities + PICUP Regional Workshop 2023

Sustainably Integrating Computation into Undergraduate Physics Courses

This day-long workshop will include demonstrations and discussions about various aspects of integrating computational activities into physics courses at all levels from introductory to advanced.  There will be guided working time wherein participants will explore tested computational exercises, will build an outline for including computational activities into their courses, and discuss integrating computations throughout the curriculum. Participants will be encouraged to become part of a growing community of physics educators dedicated to improving the physics curriculum through including computation as a standard problem solving method. 


Saturday November 18, 2023, 8:30am - 4pm | Detailed schedule below.


Who Should Attend

Physics instructors at 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities, as well as high school teachers teaching AP physics or CIS physics courses. Please bring a laptop computer. Register early; the number of openings is limited. 


Registration: $20, includes coffee and lunch. Please bring a laptop computer.

Register here:

Maximum number of participants: 40

Registration deadline: Saturday November 11, 2023 or when maximum number of participants has been reached


Workshop Schedule

8:30-9 Arrival, Registration, and Coffee

9-9:30 Welcome, Introductions, Review of PICUP site and available resources 

9:30-10:15 Session I: Introductory kinematics and dynamics with spreadsheets

10:15-10:45 Work time

10:45-11:00 BREAK

11:00-11:30 Session II: An introduction to vPython / web-vPython

11:30-12:00 Work time

12:00-12:30 Lunch

12:30-1:00 Discussion of benefits and challenges of integrating computation 

1:00-1:15 Workshop Photo

1:15-2:00 Session III: Approaches to computation in sophomore and upper-level physics courses 

2:00-2:10 Discussion of topics of interest for work in small groups after the break

2:10-2:20 BREAK  

2:20-3:50 Work in small groups: spreadsheets,  vPython,  other exercise sets, and exchange of ideas about integrating computation into your courses. 

3:50-4:00 Feedback for future meetings and wrap up


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


Intro to VPython - Part 1

Intro to VPython - Part 2

Intro to VPython - Part 3

Intro to VPython - Part 4


Workshop Coordinators

Questions/Need help?

If you have any questions, or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact Marie Lopez del Puerto at or Shaul Hanany