Brown Bags Discussions in Education meet roughly every other Wednesday at noon, in G1B31. They are a forum for faculty in the department to discuss relevant issues in education in an informal manner. (a summary report can be found at the bottom of this page)

Next Brown Bag: Brownbags on hiatus until Fall 2006.

Recent Brown Bags (in reverse temporal order):

Brownbags from Spring 2006 to be documented.

12/8: Advanced labs:
The challenges of providing quality lab experiences for our students.
In October we discussed the goals of the advanced labs and the challenges of the sophmore and junior labs. While we concluded that it was important for the lab experiences to be coupled to coursework and relevant physics problems, we were still left with the challenges of the upper division and graduate labs.
We will continue these discussions specifically focussing on the junior opitcs 3340 , senior modern lab 4430 and grad 5430 labs. Please join to discuss our goals, approaches, and possible changes to these labs.

11/10: Sustaining our Reforms
A faculty-wide discussion about maintaining our efforts in reformed course practices. How do faculty who are new to a course best learn about the materials and practices that have worked previously? Two suggestions will be discussed: i) an archival mechanism for materials, practices, and results ii) a faculty-faculty mentoring program, where courses are handed off one person to the next. Alternative approaches to institutionalizing the productive reforms in our undergraduate sequence are encouraged.

10/27: Three summer projects designed to support the reform of educational practice in physics courses were sponsored by by the department and the Faculty Teaching Excellence Program.
We will be reporting on these:

Sound and Music: Allen Hermann and Scott Parker
Fully Implementing Concept Tests in the 1010/1020 series Paul Beale with Noah Finkelstein.

Tutorials in 1110- 1120 & Teaching and Learning Physics Phys 4810 - Michael Dubson, Noah Finkelstein, and Steven Pollock.

10/13: Advanced Labortories
We will have faculty who have recently taught in these labs as well as (hope to) have a report from the undergraduate committee on potential changes in some of these labs.

9/29: The grad program: Margaret Murnane
What were we thinking of: current and potential future changes to our Graduate Program. Abstract: Margaret will attempt to 1) summarize the recent changes to the graduate program at the Masters and Ph.D. levels, 2) explain how they have helped the department in several ways, and 3) update the department on new graduate education initiatives being encouraged campus-wide by the graduate school, and in particular explain how the physics department might respond.

Sept 15: Teaching the Social and Political Dimensions of Science: Marty Goldman
Science and Public Policy for undergraduates.
The Physics Department has done a good job of covering many of facets of science education besides rigorous physics for undergraduate majors. We offer survey courses and specialized courses in conceptual physics (Physical Science for Nonscientists (1010-20), Light and Color (1230), Sound and Music (1240)), a course inEnergy and the Environment (3070)and a course in the History and Philosophy of Physics (4450). Recently a new course has been approved and is now offered once a year — Science and Public Policy. This seminar addresses the question: Why do we needanother“soft” course and how does it differ from the others? We suggest that it is indeed different, that it targets a new student audience and educates them on a different level – addressing issues of current events and politics in relation to physics and science in general. Among the topics treated in this class are:

• What is a research university and are you better off as a student here than somewhere else?

• Why is basic research essential for society and how is it funded?

• What do today’s newspapers have to say about science in relation to society and government and why should you care?

• What is the difference between science and pseudoscience and how is your life affected?

• Is science in conflict with religion?

An archive write-up of Brownbags from 2003-2004 (in PDF).
An older archive of notes from the first year of brownbags 2002-2003.