Wisconsin Association of Physics Teachers
October 25 – 26, 2013
University of Wisconsin –Eau Claire


All Talks in Schneider Social Science Hall 100

Low-Cost Alternative Energy Lab and Demonstration Equipment

Roger Hanke NorthCentral Technical College

An Examination and Application of Proton Radiotherapy Ascribed to a Computational Modeling and Analysis of a Four-Trimmer Dynamic Collimation System for Penumbra Reduction in Spot-Scanning Delivery
Blake Smith University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Monte Carlo N-Particle Transport Code was used to simulate proton pencil beams incident on a water phantom at energies of 125 MeV. The energy disposition at the Bragg Peak was recorded for every orientation of the trimmer penumbra jaws in 2 mm increments. A weighted optimizer and dose placement algorithm were coded and implemented using MatLab. Dose distributions of trimmed kernels were then computed and compared to treatment simulations of homogeneous proton pencil beams unaffected by trimmer jaws. It is shown that the use of trimmer penumbra jaws in proton beam radiotherapy has a significant impact on limiting lateral dose fall off to healthy tissue and an increase in dose conformity to the tumor region than conventional proton pencil beams used in proton beam therapy. Further work is currently being done to investigate the effectiveness of the IsoTrim used in conjunction with smaller beam sigma spreads.

Relativity on Rotated Graph Paper
Rob Salgado UW-La Crosse
Minkowski Spacetime Diagrams have been difficult to interpret because line segments representing equal spacetime intervals have unequal Euclidean lengths. However, it turns out that the areas of their respective Causal Diamonds are equal [in both Minkowskian and Euclidean geometries]. Using rotated graph paper, we develop a physically motivated geometrical method to do the standard calculations in special relativity--by counting boxes and using a minimal amount of algebra. This has been used to teach relativity to introductory physics students. (A draft of my article is available at: http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.7254)[Graph paper will be provided.]

Using open datasets and simulations in laboratories
Jim Crumley College of St. Benedict / St. John's University
While advances in instrumentation physics have made many areasmore accessible to undergraduate physics laboratories, otherareas are still beyond reach. Open data sets and simulationscan open up some other frontiers of physics, such as Space Physicsand Astronomy. In this talk, I will give an overview of some resources foropen data and simulations, and then describe my experiences using these toolsin both introductory and advanced labs in our curriculum.

Poster Session 9:20-9:50 See Below

Getting to the point when showing what you have learned.

GaryBaier Green Bay East High School
The October 2012 issue of TPT had an article on a "Grading Block" designed by Dr. K. Harper of Ohio State University. This is a procedure students can follow so the instructor can better understand what the student knows. I will show how Dr. Harper and I modified this assessment strategy for High School and Middle School students. Note: Reading the article before attending may be useful.

Accelerometers, Microcontrollers, and Water Rockets
George Stecher University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

A sunspot tracking project for introductory astronomy
Carey Woodward UW--Fond du Lac
With the arrival of solar maximum, I wanted to create a sunspot-tracking project for my stellar astronomy class which would incorporate both actual student observations and spacecraft-based data. Last spring, I assigned such a project: students (a) made their own sunspot observations (through a school telescope), sketching what they saw by hand; (b) identified their observed sunspots in images from NASA's SOHO spacecraft; (c) determined the rotation rate of their sunspots; and (d) compared them to an expected value, which they had to deduce and justify. In this talk, I report on the results (mostly positive), and outline changes I plan to make next year, as well as ways in which the project could be adapted to classrooms with different facilities than mine.

Using Standards Based Grading

Brad Wysocki Bloomer High School
I will describe how I made the the change to grading based on what students know, not how many points they earn. It's not as hard as you think.

Cray Research At Chippewa Falls: A Story of the Supercomputer.

12:10-1:30 Lunch (Business Meeting Schneider 100, The New AP Curriculum Schneider 203)

Should (and Can) We Teach Forces First?

Andrew Pawl UW-Platteville
I will describe a successful pedagogy that illustrates the potential utility of teaching forces before kinematics and present evidence that college students in calculus-based mechanics perform equally well in courses that begin with forces as they do in courses that begin with kinematics.

Bending and Busting
Alan Scott University of Wisconsin-Stout
Young's Modulus for steel is often determined by placing a wire under tension and carefully measuring the strain. It can also be measured by observing the amount of bending a rigid beam-like structure experiences when loaded transversely. Experiment and theory will be compared in an activity nicely tailored for engineering students in your introductory physics class.

Internet Coaches for Problem-solving in introductory physics: Usage, Usability and Design.

Evan Frodermann University of Minnesota
The Physics Education Research Group at the University of Minnesota has been developing internet computer coaches to help students become more expert-like problem solvers. During the Fall 2011 and Spring 2013 semesters, the coaches were introduced into large sections (200+ students) of the calculus based introductory mechanics course at the University of Minnesota. In this talk, we will discuss the different usage patterns of the coaches, and their correlations with student problem-solving performance and attitudes toward problem solving in physics along with specific characteristics of the coach users. We will also examine how these patterns and correlations are being used to develop the next generation of the internet computer coaches. This work was supported by NSF DUE-0715615 and DUE-1226197.

Another Look at Surprising Facts about Earth's Past and Current Population

Jim Mallmann Milwaukee School of Engineering

2:50-3:20 Break and additional poster time

Studying the Sun with Neutrons:Research Opportunities for Two Year College Students
Jim Madsen UW-River Falls
With colleagues at Bartol Research Institute at the University of Delaware, UWRF has recently received funding for a four-year project to investigate high-energy solar transient events. Ground level enhancements are relatively rare phenomena that result in a measurable increase in the cosmic ray flux at energies up to a few GeV. Hear about opportunities for two-year college students to participate with this research including possible deployments to McMurdo Station on the coast of Antarctica.

IceCube: Engaging Undergraduates in Neutrino Astrophysics Research
Suruj Seunarine University of Wisconsin - River Falls

What Makes a Photocathode Good?
Thomas Nevins University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire and Argonne National Laboratory
Photocathodes are a crucial component of photomultiplier tubes. These tubes are used for applications such as collider experiments and medical diagnosis. This talk will present two approaches to studying quantum efficiency, a measure of photocathode quality. Firstly, equipment to measure quantum efficiency had to be created. The theory and working of the resulting tool will be presented. Secondly, the fabrication techniques which produce a high quality photocathode are not well understood. We have studied the characteristics of an important photocathode ingredient, the Antimony thin film. Optical data and thickness measurements on a number of films will be included. This data shows an ideal thickness exists where a photocathode will have maximized quantum efficiency.

A BFY Lab Experiment - Using an LED as a Single Photon Avalanche Diode

Lowell McCann UW-River Falls
A reverse-biased light emitting diode (LED) can be used as an extremely inexpensive (and inefficient) avalanche photodiode. In this talk I will describe multiple ways that this device can be used in electronics or advanced laboratory classes.

Using Robots to Teach Motion
Brad Wysocki Bloomer High School
I have added commercially available programmable robots to build basic kinematic models in my high school physics curriculum. This approach has proved to be well received and motivating for students, I will share my experiences.



Preparing Wisconsin teacher with "A LOT of Science"
Jennifer Docktor University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Eye movements while interpreting graphical representations of motion

Jennifer Docktor University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

The Alkaline Reaction Pathway for Chloroform Decomposition in Solution
Jorge Estevez University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
Chloroform (CHCl3) is a volatile liquid, which has a rather slow rate of decomposition in ground water. Chloroform is used in biology and chemistry laboratories, as well as in a number of manufacturing processes, some pertaining to the paper industry. Chloroform is also one of the byproducts of the chlorination of water. It is a known carcinogen and one of the most common contaminants found at toxic waste sites. The dominant degradation process for chloroform in both the atmosphere and the groundwater is the reaction with the hydroxyl radical or hydroxide ion. The rate of chloroform degradation is considerably larger in solution than that in the gas phase and it increases dramatically with increasing pH. It is of great interest to gain a deeper understanding of this particular reaction mechanism. It may be very difficult to directly observe two or more molecules reacting in solution without altering the reaction itself. Computer simulations give us the opportunity to observe reactions in slow motion and compute properties including reaction and barrier energies, as well as their corresponding free energies, and reaction rates.

Imaging Dynamic Solar Activity in Hydrogen-Alpha Light
Mandy Neumann University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Laminar Fluid Flow in Non-Circular Pipes
Michael Yohn University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Computer Modeling of Satellite Debris Following Breakup or Collision
Thomas Nevins University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
Collisions and explosions in Low Earth Orbit create a great deal of debris that disperses after impact. This debris remains in high speed orbit around the Earth and is a great threat to the existing satellite array. To predict the development of future debris, we have constructed a computer simulation using a non-inertial reference frame. In this poster we will demonstrate the simulation by presenting the results for a simple model where the satellite fragments into twelve pieces of equal mass radiating in equally spaced directions. Predicted trajectories for the fragments will be given.

Computational Modeling of the Chaos/Stability Bifurcations of an Inverted Kapitza Pendulum
Timothy McAuliffe and David Tamres UW-Stevens Point