dB-SERC lunch 09-18-2017: Expanding the physics exploration center with virtual experiments
Discussion leader: Dr. David Nero, physics and astronomy
When: Monday September 18 from 12 - 1 pm
Where: 321 Allen Hall

During the discussion, Dr. David Nero from the physics and astronomy department will discuss a project, “Expanding the physics exploration center with virtual experiments,” for which he received a dB-SERC course transformation award. Each semester, hundreds of students in introductory physics courses visit the Physics Exploration Center (PEC) to work with hands-on physics experiments at their own pace. These experiments are designed to lead students to a stronger conceptual understanding of physics by challenging their preconceptions of the physical world. Unfortunately, the scope of experiments that are practical to include at the PEC is limited because students need to be able to complete the experiments with minimal guidance, which excludes many potential learning opportunities because the equipment is difficult to use without training. Dr. Nero will create a “virtual lab” to be hosted at the PEC. He will design twelve new experiments for the PEC which will be recorded using a 360 degree 3-D camera. Students will view these experiments at the PEC using a virtual reality headset. The combination of a headset paired with 360 degree 3-D video will give students the sensory experience of actually standing in front of the equipment. The student will then proceed with data analysis as if they had just collected the data themselves. Dr. Nero hopes that the new virtual experiments will improve student attitudes about physics and learning. The purpose of the lunch is to provide feedback on the implementation and assessment of the project and encourage an interchange of ideas.

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