2021 Virtual Capstone Conference - Workshops

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Detailed descriptions are provided below the workshop lists.  When you register, you will need to select one workshop to attend on Thursday and one workshop to attend on Friday.  Also, when you register you will need to click the "Save Responses" buttons before you will be able to complete the registration.

Thursday Workshops:

  • Th-1 Introductory Physics: Planning a Coherent Course and Choosing the Right Tools
  • Th-2 Integrating Computation and Experiment
  • Th-3 Department-Wide Computational Integration
  • Th-4 Lessons from Computer Science Pedagogy
  • Th-5 Computational Integration into Astronomy and Astrophysics Classes
  • Th-6 Tour of Exercise Sets: The Plane Rigid Pendulum, The 1D Schroedinger Equation

Friday Workshops:

  • Fr-1 Introductory Physics: Planning a Coherent Course and Choosing the Right Tools
  • Fr-2 Integrating Computation and Experiment
  • Fr-3 Department-Wide Computational Integration
  • Fr-4 The Computational Physics Course: Objectives, Design, and Assessment
  • Fr-5 Preparing and Submitting an Exercise Set, and Becoming a Reviewer
  • Fr-6 Upper-Division Physics: Planning a Coherent Course and Choosing the Right Tools

Descriptions of workshops being offered both Thursday & Friday:

Th-1 & Fr-1: Introductory Physics: Planning a Coherent Course and Choosing the Right Tools

Computational integration is most effective when it is sustained and coherent across an entire course. In this workshop, participants will design an entire introductory mechanics curriculum incorporating computation, examining how computational activities fit together to serve course-wide learning goals. We will focus on choosing exercises, assessment techniques, and choosing computational tools to best suit a variety of student populations and course formats.

Th-2 & Fr-2: Integrating Computation and Experiment

Computational physics and experimental physics are natural partners: both disciplines produce data which must be analyzed, and sensors used in modern labs are increasingly computerized. In this workshop, participants will explore tools and methods to bring computation to experimental physics (lab) classes, both to gather and analyze data and to compare experimental results to simulations.

Th-3 & Fr-3: Department-Wide Computational Integration

This workshop will explore the challenges and opportunities in integrating computation in a coherent way throughout a larger program of study -- either an introductory physics sequence or an entire physics degree. Participants will examine how to plan a coherent, program-wide set of computational learning goals so that students build on their previous skills in each new class, assessment strategies for both student work and for the computational aspect of the program itself, and the challenges inherent in creating program-wide curricular reform that aligns with other department objectives.

Descriptions of workshops being offered only Thursday:

Th-4: Lessons from Computer Science Pedagogy

Teaching computational physics almost always involves teaching students to code, but physics faculty rarely have extensive training in best practices for programming pedagogy. Computer science departments, however, have thought carefully about this, and physics faculty can benefit from their experience. This workshop, led by a computer scientist, will examine best practices in teaching students the nuts and bolts of programming, including an exploration of “pair programming” exercises.

Th-5: Computational Integration into Astronomy and Astrophysics Classes

Incorporating computation into astronomy/astrophysics classes poses unique challenges and opportunities. Astrophysics exercises often involve substantial data reduction and processing from large observational data sets, and these data need to be visualized in unique ways. Students in introductory astronomy survey courses, on the other hand, often have limited quantitative and analytical skills that pose a barrier to writing code. This workshop will explore computation can enrich both introductory astronomy classes and upper-division astrophysics courses.

Th-6: Tour of Exercise Sets: The Plane Rigid Pendulum, The 1D Schroedinger Equation

In this workshop, participants will gain a student’s-eye perspective on two exercise sets from the PICUP collection, one suitable for an introductory mechanics course and one for a modern physics or quantum course. In addition to working through the exercises themselves, participants will discuss the pedagogy involved in the material and how they might modify them to best suit their own students and institutions. Since PICUP exercise sets are designed to be “language-agnostic”, we will also discuss the advantages and drawbacks of different platforms.

Descriptions of workshops being offered only Friday:

Fr-4: The Computational Physics Course: Objectives, Design, and Assessment

Many departments have a dedicated numerical methods or computational physics course, but its role in the curriculum is sometimes unclear. In this workshop, participants will explore the design of such a course. We will plan learning objectives, consider how a course fits into the broader curriculum, discuss format and assessment, and finally work through an exercise set on nonlinear vibrations in a guitar string that brings together many of the modeling, simulation, animation, and analysis techniques students in a computational physics course must learn.

Fr-5: Preparing and Submitting an Exercise Set, and Becoming a Reviewer

The PICUP Exercise Set Collection needs you! These exercises are written by community members and peer-reviewed by other community members. If you’d like to learn how to publish your own exercises as part of the PICUP Collection, or act as a peer reviewer, this workshop is the right place. We will discuss best practices for authorship, formatting, and the review process.

Fr-6: Upper-Division Physics: Planning a Coherent Course and Choosing the Right Tools

Computational integration is most effective when it is sustained and coherent across an entire course. In this workshop, participants will design an entire upper division curriculum incorporating computation, examining how computational activities fit together to serve course-wide learning goals. We will focus on choosing exercises, assessment techniques, and choosing computational tools to best suit a variety of student populations and course formats.