Designing real-world physics problems for first-year students

TitleDesigning real-world physics problems for first-year students
Faculty/College/UnitScience
StatusCompleted
Duration3 Years
Initiation04/01/2009
Completion12/31/2012
Funding Details
Year 1: Project YearYear 1
Year 1: Funding Year2009/2010
Year 1: Project TypeSmall TLEF
Year 1: Principal InvestigatorGeorg Rieger
Year 1: Funded Amount12,238
Year 1: Team Members

Georg Rieger, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
C. Waltham, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
A. Kotlicki, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science

Year 1: Summary

This project aims to create an extensive database of real-world physics examples related to the life sciences and to sustainability. These examples in the form of problems, exam and homework questions, and mini-lectures are meant to assist instructors and to further students' understanding of physics, as well as their critical thinking and problem solving skills. For the planned database, physics problems linked to the human body, energy issues and climate change will be designed to be used by all first-year physics instructors, but especially by those teaching Phys100, Phys101, Phys102, and Science One, i.e. courses taken by non-physics majors. The database is needed to facilitate the usage of real-world physics problems inside and outside the classroom. The work on physics problems related to students' areas of interest should increase student motivation to spend time on and solve the problems, which will improve their learning experience and outcome.

Year 2: Project YearYear 2
Year 2: Funding Year2010/2011
Year 2: Project TypeSmall TLEF
Year 2: Principal InvestigatorGeorg Rieger
Year 2: Funded Amount15,112
Year 2: Team Members

Georg Rieger, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
C. Waltham, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
A. Kotlicki, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science

Year 2: Summary

The second year of the project will expand our database of real-world physics examples. These examples in the form of problems, exam and homework questions, mini-lectures and simple experiments are meant to assist instructors and to further students’ understanding of physics, as well as their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Examples linked to the human body, animals, energy issues and climate change will be designed to be used by all first-year physics university instructors, but especially by those teaching courses taken by non-physics majors. Some of the material is also appropriate and intended for use in high school classrooms. The database is needed to facilitate the usage of real-world physics problems inside and outside the classroom. The examples relate to students’ areas of interest and should increase their motivation to spend time on and solve the problems, which will improve their learning experience and outcome.

Year 3: Project YearYear 3
Year 3: Funding Year2011/2012
Year 3: Project TypeSmall TLEF
Year 3: Principal InvestigatorGeorg Rieger
Year 3: Funded Amount15,106
Year 3: Team Members

Georg Rieger, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
C. Waltham, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
A. Kotlicki, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science

Year 3: Summary

This project aims to create an extensive database of physics examples with strong connections to everyday life. Articles, homework problems, multiple choice questions, lecture notes, and videos are meant to further students’ understanding of physics as well as their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Basic physics concepts are applied in examples of sustainability, energy, climate change, biology and medicine. These examples relate to students’ interests and should increase their motivation to spend time on physics problems. The teaching resources are primarily designed for non-physics majors in first-year physics and engineering courses, and for grade 11/12 classrooms.