home - login - register

PERC 2012 Abstract Detail Page

Previous Page  |  New Search  |  Browse All

Abstract Title: Representing Energy for a Physics of Processes & Causation
Abstract: A typical approach to introducing the work-energy theorem begins with a definition of work, a definition of kinetic energy, and presents a mathematical proof of the relationship between the two. In the Energy Project, a professional development effort, teachers constructed a set of "laws" relating energy changes with forces.  At first glance their laws bear little resemblance to the work-energy theorem.  However, these laws are not only consistent with the work-energy theorem, but they present the theorem in a way that is deeply causal. In this paper, I discuss how the representational system of Energy Theater facilitated the development of causal laws, drawing on Sherin's (1995) work on how symbol systems affect students' conceptualization of physics, in which he concluded "algebra-physics can be characterized as a physics of balance and equilibrium, and programming-physics a physics of processes and causation" (p. 421).
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Leslie J. Atkins
California State University, Chico
400 W. 1st St
Chico, CA 95929-0535
Phone: 530-898-6724