Simulations Tools for Introductory Physics (STIP) Workshop
February 3-5, 2011 at EMCC, Avondale, AZ
Anne Cox, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL
Paul Williams, Austin Community College, Austin, TX
Dwain Desbien, Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale, AZ
Tom O’Kuma, Lee College, Baytown, TX

Recent physics education research indicates that the “traditional” lecture-style, passive learning
model does not substantially impact the learning and understanding of most students who take introductory
physics. The research also indicates that most students enter introductory physics with alternative
conceptions to many of the basic concepts that are taught in introductory physics. For most students, passive
learning techniques generally do not replace these “misconceptions” with concepts that are more consistent
with our understanding of nature. Results from physics education research have identified several different
active learning techniques that have substantially increased student conceptual understanding in introductory

Computer simulations, for example, can provide an interactive and conceptual mode for student
understanding. Simulations alone, however, are not necessarily the answer for increasing student
understanding. They must be informed by good pedagogical practices and must be adaptable to a variety of
educational environments. Thus, this STIP workshop will allow participants to explore how these
simulations can be used most effectively in the classroom. This often means coupling simulations with
various teaching strategies.

During this workshop, participants will become familiar with the variety of simulations available.
Participants will work with Physlets© (physics applets) and Open Source Physics resources
( Included in this set of resources are tools for authoring simulations (Easy
Java Simulations) and video analysis (Tracker). Participants will also become familiar with other
simulations, e.g., the PhET simulations ( which are research-based,
interactive physics simulations. Participants will also develop the ability and skills to modify, adapt, and
construct new materials. One of the goals of this workshop is to provide a flexible suite of resources
appropriate to different levels of instruction as well as different levels of technological sophistication (from
low to high) so that participants can choose what will be most successful in their home environment.

The workshop leaders have many years of experience in developing and refining curriculum for
introductory physics students. In addition, and more importantly, the workshop leaders have had extensive
experience with the implementation and adaptation of curriculum in a variety of institutions and for many
types of introductory physics students along with the training of faculty in using and developing their own
curricula for their technology-oriented students. This workshop is designed for TYC and HS teachers who
are interested in using technology in lab and their courses to improve teaching and learning in introductory
physics courses.

There will also be an opportunity to share and discuss issues relating to teaching physics more
effectively (particularly for students enrolled in technician/technology education programs), and how to use
various strategies, tools, and tactics to overcome problems and barriers to learning at TYCs and HSs.
Important issues such as standards, assessment, diversity, and technology utilization will be addressed at
various points during the workshop. Discussion and information on the needs of the technological workforce
and its connection with the activities of this workshop will also be presented.

The local host will be Dwain Desbien who has hosted many workshops in the past and has worked
with many TYC and HS physics teachers.

Click here to download this description.

Click here to apply for this workshop.

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