Presentation Abstracts:

Keynote Speaker: Erick Agrimson - St. Catherines University, St. Paul, Mn (40 min)

High Altitude Ballooning: Collaborative Undergraduate Research Experiences 

High altitude balloons (HAB), are used for scientific and meteorological related purposes to study the Earth’s troposphere and stratosphere as they provide researchers with a relatively cost-effective means to reach these layers of the atmosphere. At St. Catherine University, with an all baccalaureate women’s college at its core, we have been using HAB’s as a way to engage students in collaborative undergraduate research and as a way to do outreach. 

One topic of interest were temperature measurements taken during the 2017 total solar eclipse. The dynamics of the solar obscuration provided a unique opportunity to monitor temperature changes of the stratosphere. A number of flights were conducted during a short period of time in order to detect changes due to the eclipse. Given the short time duration of the event, temperature measurements were collected before the event, as well as during the event, to characterize changes in the upper atmosphere.  

A second topic of interest has been investigating Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR’s). GCRs are high energy particles from stars or remnants of a supernova. These particles impinge upon the Earth's atmosphere, in the form of positively charged particles, protons. Protons interact with atmospheric nuclei to produce a cascade of high energy secondary particles known as a Galactic Cosmic Ray Shower. This post-collision secondary shower depends on altitude, latitude, solar activity, and air pressure. The Regener-Pfotzer (R-P) maximum, which is between 15-25 km, is the altitude where the maximum number of detections is measured with a Geiger Müller detector. In order to quantify particle collisions, a payload was flown containing four Geiger counters in a cross configuration comparing and measuring vertical, horizontal, and omnidirectional coincidences. Analyzed data showed an R-P maximum occurring at different altitudes depending on the direction of the coincidences, consistent with previous research.

Dancing Pins in a Magnetic Field
Fred Behroozi - University of Northern Iowa (15 min)

The usual demo to visualize magnetic field lines is to place a plastic sheet over a dipole magnet and sprinkle iron filings over the sheet.  The filings follow the field lines to form the familiar image used in most textbooks:

I present a new demo in which several pins dance and twist to follow the changing pattern of magnetic field lines near the pole of a moving Neodymium magnet.

Measuring the Band Gap Energy of a Semiconductor
John Zwart - Dordt University (20 min)

Inexpensive experiments that give students the opportunity to make quantum measurements can be hard to find.  Negative temperature coefficient thermistors are low cost electrical components that are used as temperature sensors and consist of a piece of semiconducting material with a pair of electrical connections.  Resistance vs temperature data allows one to find the (on the order of an electron-volt) energy separation between the valence and conduction bands for the semiconducting material. We’ll look at the experiment and theory behind it.

Some Cool Low Cost Astronomy Demos
Dale Stille - University of Iowa (30 min)

The past year has seen the development of several very cool astronomy demonstrations to physically illustrate new and important concepts in the hunt for exoplanets, asteroids, binary, and trinary star systems.  I will present several demonstrations and some low cost equipment with the simple purpose of increasing instructional awareness.  These demonstrations are also very well suited for some outreach presentations and programs.

Simple Lab Practicums for High School Physics
Matthew Harding - Iowa City High Schools - Iowa City, IA (20 min)

I first encountered the idea of the ‘application’ lab as an undergrad, but I didn’t really embrace the purpose of the application or practicum lab until I started utilizing Modeling Instruction 10 years ago.  During my talk, I’ll share the different lab practicums that I use in my physics and AP Physics courses.

Meeting Accreditation & Assessment Requirements in a Two-Year College Physics Classroom
Nathan Quarderer (co-author Jeremy Durelle) - Northeast Iowa Community College (20 min)

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and other accrediting bodies have recently placed greater focus on the role of assessment in higher education. Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) is currently undergoing a significant overhaul to our assessment processes including the use of curriculum mapping, aligned student, course, and program learning outcomes, and common textbooks and assessments. In this talk we will discuss how two instructors from different NICC campuses have worked to align our common assessments in the context of conceptual, and algebra/trig-based physics courses.

How Standards Based Grading Has Changed My Lab Assessment Strategy
Sara Karbeling -  Liberty High School - North Liberty, IA (20 min)

For the second year at Liberty High School, we are implementing a Standards-Based approach to grading our physics courses. This shift has fundamentally changed my approach to most of the course, from my view of homework and practice work to writing and scoring assessments.

Perhaps most fundamentally though, this approach of unifying the expectations into consistent standards has affected my how I design laboratory assessments. It has helped me to more clearly and thoughtfully articulate what students are to master in terms of laboratory skills and provides a uniform set of expectations to allow for students to demonstrate growth throughout the year.

While I have yet to master this implementation, I am learning, demonstrating a growth mindset for my students, and look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with you.

Lessons Learned from Using Moodle Online Homework for Eight Years
Kristen Thompson -  Loras College (20 min)

Eight years ago I switched my physics classes from using traditional paper homework to questions I created in the Moodle classroom management system. Initially, these were simply the questions that had previously been on the paper homework. But, with the on-line system, we can do better. The questions can be designed in in such a way to scaffold the students to solve the problems.  Additionally, breaking problems into parts, some worth zero points and can be skipped, reduces student frustration in working with the computer. Idiosyncrasies of using Moodle will also be covered.