PICUP Community

PICUP Member Spotlight

Brandon Lunk
After a few false-starts as an undergraduate, I finally found inspiration from computation in graduate school working on the Matter and Interactions project with Ruth Chabay and Bruce Sherwood. For the first time, I started to appreciate the deep structure that connects springs, gravity, magnetism, and other forces; I started to appreciate nature as inherently iterative as opposed to prescriptive; and I found a tool that enabled me to do physics while bypassing some of the prohibitively difficult mathematics that I often found overwhelming as an undergrad. But most importantly, I found the visualizations that VPython produced incredibly instructive for understanding complex phenomena and I knew that this was an important pedagogical tool.

I continue to emphasize computation in my own teaching both as a tool that students can use in their professional careers and as a means to represent the physics. I've helped develop computational activities designed to familiarize introductory-level students with this tool. I've also incorporated computational activities in the statistical physics and biophysics courses I've taught. In both cases, PICUP has been an excellent resource.

I got involved in PICUP both as a resource for my own teaching and also as a way for me to participate in the promotion of computation as a pedagogical tool to the broader physics teaching community. PICUP has been a fantastic source of teaching resources---everything from problem sets and recommended texts to a community of other teachers and experts with whom I can collaborate, ask questions of, and seek advice from. Contributing to the PICUP collection has also helped me think more generally about the design and development of instructional materials. And of course PICUP enables me to be a resource for others.

My two favorite aspects of teaching computation are figuring out for myself a new way of representing some physical phenomena and (even better) watching my students excitedly figure out a particular program.

Spotlight Archive


PICUP Virtual Meetings

PICUP Holiday Meeting (online via zoom.us)

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.

Meeting Archive


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

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