Can String Theory Be An Educational Force Multiplier?

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Jim Gates Powerpoint from 2007 NSTA Conference

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Can String Theory Be An Educational Force Multiplier?

  1. 2. Robert Karplus Lecture <ul><li>Can String Theory Be An </li></ul><ul><li>Educational Force Multiplier? </li></ul><ul><li>Sylvester J. Gates, Jr. </li></ul><ul><li>John S. Toll Professor of Physics and </li></ul><ul><li>Center for String and Particle Theory Director </li></ul><ul><li>University of Maryland </li></ul><ul><li>Physics Department </li></ul><ul><li>Rm. 4121 </li></ul><ul><li>College Park, MD 20742-4111 </li></ul>
  2. 3. Overview of Talk <ul><li>Being Informed By The Public Of A </li></ul><ul><li>Science Educational Possibility </li></ul>
  3. 4. Overview of Talk <ul><li>Being Informed By The Public Of A </li></ul><ul><li>Science Educational Possibility </li></ul><ul><li>From Conceptualization to Implementation </li></ul>
  4. 5. Overview of Talk <ul><li>Being Informed By The Public Of A </li></ul><ul><li>Science Educational Possibility </li></ul><ul><li>From Conceptualization to Implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Tools For Implementation </li></ul>
  5. 6. Overview of Talk <ul><li>Being Informed By The Public Of A </li></ul><ul><li>Science Educational Possibility </li></ul><ul><li>From Conceptualization to Implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Tools For Implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul>
  6. 7. Being Informed By The Public Of A Science Educational Possibility
  7. 8. <ul><li>String Theory Has Made A Breakthrough In the Public </li></ul><ul><li>Consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>* A search on “string theory” at www.google.com </li></ul><ul><li>reveals 1,080,000 webpages. </li></ul>
  8. 9. <ul><li>String Theory Has Made A Breakthrough In the Public </li></ul><ul><li>Consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>* A search on “string theory” at www.google.com </li></ul><ul><li>reveals 1,080,000 webpages. </li></ul><ul><li>* “The Elegant Universe,” a book by Brian Greene, was an </li></ul><ul><li>international best-seller and paved the way for numbers </li></ul><ul><li>of other such books. </li></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><li>String Theory Has Made A Breakthrough In the Public </li></ul><ul><li>Consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>* A search on “string theory” at www.google.com </li></ul><ul><li>reveals 1,080,000 webpages. </li></ul><ul><li>* “The Elegant Universe,” a book by Brian Greene, was an </li></ul><ul><li>international best-seller and paved the way for numbers </li></ul><ul><li>of other such books. </li></ul><ul><li>* “The Elegant Universe,” a NOVA/PBS television documentary, </li></ul><ul><li>repeated this success for video presentations. </li></ul>
  10. 11. <ul><li>* Hundreds of popular-level presentations on this topic </li></ul><ul><li>have been given at lectures, symposia, etc. at universities, </li></ul><ul><li>laboratories, colleges, libraries & museums. </li></ul>
  11. 12. <ul><li>* Hundreds of popular-level presentations on this topic </li></ul><ul><li>have been given at lectures, symposia, etc. at universities, </li></ul><ul><li>laboratories, colleges, libraries & museums. </li></ul><ul><li>* This is an international phenomenon with books and other </li></ul><ul><li>materials being translated into other languages (‘06 visit to </li></ul><ul><li>Mali revealed TEU was broadcast with sub-titles in France). </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>* Hundreds of popular-level presentations on this topic </li></ul><ul><li>have been given at lectures, symposia, etc. at universities, </li></ul><ul><li>laboratories, colleges, libraries & museums. </li></ul><ul><li>* This is an international phenomenon with books and other </li></ul><ul><li>materials being translated into other languages (‘06 visit to </li></ul><ul><li>Mali revealed TEU was broadcast with sub-titles in France). </li></ul><ul><li>* The current speaker has given approximately 150 such </li></ul><ul><li>presentation since 1988 (March 2007 presented two </li></ul><ul><li>popular level presentations in India and participated in the </li></ul><ul><li>video-taping for an Indian t.v. science documentary). </li></ul>
  13. 14. <ul><li>* ‘Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality,’ (a 12 hour, 24 DvD </li></ul><ul><li>collection of lectures on string theory at the popular level) </li></ul><ul><li>generated approximately half a million dollars in sales within </li></ul><ul><li>six months of its release. </li></ul>
  14. 15. <ul><li>This Raises Questions: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Can This Remarkable Amount Of Public Interest In String Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Be Made To Serve An Educational Goal?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ If The Answer Is Affirmative Then How Is This To Occur?” </li></ul><ul><li>For several years, considerations and deliberations on this have </li></ul><ul><li>occurred for the speaker. A model course was envisioned to test </li></ul><ul><li>this as a project in curriculum development. </li></ul>
  15. 16. From Conceptualization to Implementation
  16. 17. <ul><li>PHY 144: Prototyping The Concept </li></ul><ul><li>During the spring term of 2007 at Gustavus Adolphus College, </li></ul><ul><li>SJG is the resident Rydell Visiting Professor working together </li></ul><ul><li>with Prof. Steven Mellema, a class designated as PHY 144 is </li></ul><ul><li>currently underway. A primary goal is to develop an innovative </li></ul><ul><li>new approach to the teaching a general science course for non- </li></ul><ul><li>STEM (science, technology, engineering mathematics) students. </li></ul><ul><li>The class meets typically four days a week. </li></ul><ul><li>Course Webpage : </li></ul><ul><li>http://physics.gac.edu/~mellema/phy144syl.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s view the webpage briefly via a ‘pdf-enabled </li></ul><ul><li>peek.’ </li></ul>
  17. 18. <ul><li>Five Course Intellectual Foci </li></ul><ul><li>* CULTURE & SCIENCE </li></ul>
  18. 19. <ul><li>Five Course Intellectual Foci </li></ul><ul><li>* CULTURE & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* HISTORY & SCIENCE </li></ul>
  19. 20. <ul><li>Five Course Intellectual Foci </li></ul><ul><li>* CULTURE & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* HISTORY & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE </li></ul>
  20. 21. <ul><li>Five Course Intellectual Foci </li></ul><ul><li>* CULTURE & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* HISTORY & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* RELIGION & SCIENCE </li></ul>
  21. 22. <ul><li>Five Course Intellectual Foci </li></ul><ul><li>* CULTURE & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* HISTORY & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* RELIGION & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>* SCIENCE </li></ul>
  22. 23. <ul><li>Five Course Intellectual Foci (Examples) </li></ul><ul><li>CULTURE & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>The Two Cultures: An Essay by C. P. Snow </li></ul><ul><li>HISTORY & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>Leucippus, Democritus & the Atom </li></ul><ul><li>Aristarchus, Eratosthenes, the Size & Shape of the Earth </li></ul><ul><li>J.G. Stoney & The Electron </li></ul>
  23. 24. <ul><li>Five Course Intellectual Foci (Examples) </li></ul><ul><li>PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematiics in </li></ul><ul><li>the Natural Sciences: An Essay by E. Wigner </li></ul><ul><li>Karl R. Popper & Science as Falsification </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas Kuhn & Structure of Scientific Revolutions </li></ul>
  24. 25. <ul><li>Five Course Intellectual Foci (Examples) </li></ul><ul><li>RELIGION & SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>Giordano Bruno & Galileo </li></ul><ul><li>James Clerk Maxwell and the Christian Proposition </li></ul><ul><li>Einstein’s View of Creation </li></ul><ul><li>Father Georges-Henri Lemaître: A Jesuit Cosmologist </li></ul>
  25. 26. <ul><li>Five Course Intellectual Foci (Examples) </li></ul><ul><li>SCIENCE </li></ul><ul><li>Illustrative `tour’ of the major strands of physics: </li></ul><ul><li>Theory of Newtonian Physics </li></ul><ul><li>Theory of Thermodynamics </li></ul><ul><li>Theory of Electromagnetism </li></ul><ul><li>Quantum Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Relativity Theory </li></ul><ul><li>Theories of Particle Physics & Cosmology </li></ul>
  26. 27. Tools For Implementation
  27. 28. <ul><li>Toward A Hypertext </li></ul>
  28. 30. Particle Astrophysics <ul><li>Video Driver </li></ul>A collection of 24 half-hour lectures on DvD’s
  29. 32. <ul><li>Toward A Hypertext </li></ul>
  30. 33. <ul><li>A viewing of a vignette can be useful to see how </li></ul><ul><li>the video presentations are utilized. </li></ul>
  31. 34. <ul><li>Primary philosophical foundations for the TTC/ </li></ul><ul><li>DvD lecture series include: </li></ul><ul><li>(a.) A high level of mathematical sophistication is </li></ul><ul><li>possible to maintain at the conceptual level if </li></ul><ul><li>computer graphical imagery (CGI) is used in- </li></ul><ul><li>stead of mathematical formulae. </li></ul>
  32. 35. <ul><li>(b.) To the maximum degree possible, the actual </li></ul><ul><li>educational content of the presentation should </li></ul><ul><li>be born by CGI technology. </li></ul>
  33. 36. <ul><li>(b.) To the maximum degree possible, the actual </li></ul><ul><li>educational content of the presentation should </li></ul><ul><li>be born by CGI technology. </li></ul><ul><li>(c.) To the maximum degree possible, contextual </li></ul><ul><li>references of the science should be woven in </li></ul><ul><li>all discussions. </li></ul>
  34. 37. <ul><li>Additional Tools </li></ul><ul><li>* Quicktime movies used in class. </li></ul>
  35. 38. <ul><li>Additional Tools </li></ul><ul><li>* Quicktime movies used in class. </li></ul><ul><li>* Real & virtual laboratory exercises using </li></ul><ul><li>a ‘constructivist philosophy’ for student </li></ul><ul><li>engagement via small groups (~similar </li></ul><ul><li>to studio-style) occur. </li></ul>
  36. 39. <ul><li>Additional Tools </li></ul><ul><li>* Quicktime movies used in class. </li></ul><ul><li>* Real & virtual laboratory exercises using </li></ul><ul><li>a ‘constructivist philosophy’ for student </li></ul><ul><li>engagement via small groups (~similar </li></ul><ul><li>to studio-style) occur. </li></ul><ul><li>* The World Wide Web is a valuable in & </li></ul><ul><li>out of class resource. </li></ul>
  37. 40. <ul><li>Additional Tools </li></ul><ul><li>* Essays & homework include a minimal, but </li></ul><ul><li>some, mathematical computation (algebra, </li></ul><ul><li>geometry, trigonometry). </li></ul>
  38. 41. <ul><li>Additional Tools </li></ul><ul><li>* Essays & homework include a minimal, but </li></ul><ul><li>some, mathematical computation (algebra, </li></ul><ul><li>geometry, trigonometry). </li></ul><ul><li>* Mathematical concepts of an extremely so- </li></ul><ul><li>phisticated nature are treated via the CGI </li></ul><ul><li>(computer graphics illustration) approach </li></ul><ul><li>followed in the TTC/DvD’s. </li></ul>
  39. 42. Interim Report
  40. 43. <ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul><ul><li>* The division of (non-STEM/STEM) students taking the class is approximately (40%/60%) with an initial total </li></ul><ul><li>of 25 students. </li></ul>
  41. 44. <ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul><ul><li>* The division of (non-STEM/STEM) students taking the class is approximately (40%/60%) with an initial total </li></ul><ul><li>of 25 students. </li></ul><ul><li>* By mid-term only one (non-STEM) student had ‘dropped’ the course. </li></ul>
  42. 45. <ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul><ul><li>* The division of (non-STEM/STEM) students taking the class is approximately (40%/60%) with an initial total </li></ul><ul><li>of 25 students. </li></ul><ul><li>* By mid-term only one (non-STEM) student had ‘dropped’ the course. </li></ul><ul><li>* Informal surveys reveal a high degree of satisfac- </li></ul><ul><li>tion by students. </li></ul>
  43. 46. <ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul><ul><li>* The initial percentages of female (male) </li></ul><ul><li>students taking the class was 32% (68%). </li></ul>
  44. 47. <ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul><ul><li>* The initial percentages of female (male) </li></ul><ul><li>students taking the class was 32% (68%). </li></ul><ul><li>* The current percentages of female (male) </li></ul><ul><li>students taking the class was 29% (71%). </li></ul>
  45. 48. <ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul><ul><li>* The initial percentages of female (male) </li></ul><ul><li>students taking the class was 32% (68%). </li></ul><ul><li>* The current percentages of female (male) </li></ul><ul><li>students taking the class was 29% (71%). </li></ul><ul><li>* Currently no minority students are taking the </li></ul><ul><li>class. </li></ul>
  46. 49. <ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul><ul><li>* The course is apparently serving distinct purposes for its two populations: </li></ul><ul><li>(a.) non-STEM students learn they </li></ul><ul><li>can ‘get it,’ contrary to their own </li></ul><ul><li>expectations. </li></ul>
  47. 50. <ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul><ul><li>(b.) STEM students are being forced to </li></ul><ul><li>confront issues outside of science that </li></ul><ul><li>are important (history, philosophy, </li></ul><ul><li>communication skills, fostering serious </li></ul><ul><li>science related discussion, faith-based </li></ul><ul><li>beliefs, and scientists responsibility to </li></ul><ul><li>society). </li></ul>
  48. 51. <ul><li>Interim Report </li></ul><ul><li>(c.) The unforeseen level of popularity of this </li></ul><ul><li>course with STEM students has had the </li></ul><ul><li>benefit that a high degree of peer-to-peer </li></ul><ul><li>mentoring (p2pM) occurs. </li></ul>
  49. 52. <ul><li>Contact Information: </li></ul><ul><li>Prof. Sylvester J. Gates, Jr. </li></ul><ul><li>John S. Toll Professor of Physics and </li></ul><ul><li>Center for String and Particle Theory Director </li></ul><ul><li>University of Maryland Tel: 301-405-6025 </li></ul><ul><li>Physics Department Fax: 301-314-9525 </li></ul><ul><li>Rm. 4121 E-mail: gatess@wam.umd.edu </li></ul><ul><li>College Park, MD 20742-4111 </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.physics.umd.edu/ep/gates/gates.html </li></ul><ul><li>http://nsbp.org/cgi-bin/nsbp.cgi?page=jgates </li></ul>
  50. 53. <ul><li>Contact Information: </li></ul><ul><li>Prof. Steven Mellema </li></ul><ul><li>Professor of Physics </li></ul><ul><li>Gustavus Adolphus College Tel: 507-933-7306 </li></ul><ul><li>Physics Department Fax: 507-933-6104 </li></ul><ul><li>Rm. 210 E-mail: mellema@gustavus.edu </li></ul><ul><li>St. Peter, MN 56082 </li></ul><ul><li>http://physics.gac.edu/ep/~mellema/ </li></ul>

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