meep (meep) wrote,

Physics education:

Interesting article on a Nobel Laureate and his forays into improving physics education

Here are simulations

Still, I've got to wonder exactly how smart this guy is:
I was hoping that the Nobel would give me the power to create this transformation model for education. It really hasn't, on the scale I expected.
Well, Professor, you got the Nobel for your research, not your teaching. That should be your first clue. No, I'm not saying Wieman is a bad teacher - what I'm saying is that no one gets a lot of money for being a great teacher, and you definitely don't get tenure at a research university for being an excellent teacher. Focusing on actual education is what people who are done doing useful research do -- at least, that's the attitude in the academy. I remember in grad school - some of the best researchers were crap instructors, but that had no impact on the prestige (or money) they got. Now some people were good instructors and researchers, but teaching well was just a little extra; and there's an ulterior motive there, too - if you're a good grad teacher, you may get more advisees to work on your projects. There's absolutely no incentive to teach undergrads well except one's own integrity. And forget about K-12 education - that's a bureaucratic morass.

Also, online simulations are all very well, but the most convincing bits of physics were doing real-life experiments or demonstrations. I always liked the spinning wheels while on a rotating stool... and there are others people can try -- swinging around a washer on a string, jumping from a chair, rubbing a balloon with fur, etc. These simulations are good at helping visualizing vectors and other abstract ideas, but trying things out can convince you the rules really are correct. Not all of the physics demos require a lot of money or time to set up.

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