Sharing the Wealth in Physics Education

Bruce Mason, University of Oklahoma

Physicists, physics educators, and physics education researchers are a very generous group. Our community is focused on helping our students, creating new approaches to learning and teaching, and sharing these results broadly. The many workshops, conferences, projects, and coalitions hosted by the APS, the AAPT, and their members are evidence of this desire to share. We have used the continual growth and changes in technology to develop many of these new tools for physics education. More importantly, this technology has increased the many ways we have to collaborate on the use and improvement of the tools.

The following articles give an outline of four projects that are leveraging technology and the web to build and share quality resources in physics education.

Kathy Perkins gives an update on the PhET Interactive Simulations and the PhET Community. She describes both the background of PhET and some of the latest developments that extend the simulations to all the devices our students carry these days. More importantly, Kathy outlines the many ways to become connected to the community of PhET users through various social media tools, and encourages all to contribute.

Colleen Countryman and Wolfgang Christian describe "Mobile Device Models" that connect physics simulations, smart phones, and interactive lecture demonstrations to give students, even in large lectures, "hands-on" explorations. The connection between the simulations and smart phone sensors gives students a better feeling for the connections to the real world. As a development of the Open Source Physics project and Easy Java/Javascript Simulations, Colleen and Wolfgang point out that any instructor can use and modify these activities.

Robert Teese gives an overview of the Interactive Video Vignettes (IVV) project that brings to the web tutorials based on video analysis of physical problems. Video analysis as a learning tool has been used for years to engage students; IVV brings these tools online embedded in carefully structured learning activities. Bob gives a few examples of IVV results and encourages users to use the available studio software to build their own.

Kelly Roos introduces us to the Partnership for Integrating Computation into Undergraduate Physics (PICUP), a group working to address the roadblocks to the wide-spread inclusion of computational methods in the physics curriculum. Kelly provides a background to these problems and introduces the face-to-face and online community efforts underway to fix them.

Bruce Mason is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Oklahoma University. He is also director of the ComPADRE network of educational resource collections (

Disclaimer – The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Forum on Education Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the APS.