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Seminar: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Teaching Introductory Physics for the 21st Century: Matter & Interactions
Dr. Mark Haugan
Purdue University

Purdue University, North Carolina State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology are now using the new Matter & Interactions [1] curriculum in their calculus-based introductory physics courses for science and engineering majors. In this presentation I will discuss our reasons for concluding that this curriculum was right for our students, how we manage its use in courses taken by several thousand students each year and what our assessment data reveal about our students’ learning.

In part, the answer to the first of these questions is the way in which the M&I curriculum helps students to structure and to use the physics they learn. It lays a foundation of learning more advanced material by engaging students in physics’ central enterprise of systematically using a small number of fundamental principles to explain or predict a broad range of phenomena by constructing models of realistic physical systems. Such models must often address matter’s atomic structure, which brings accessible 20th century physics into our introductory courses and makes the courses more coherent by unifying topics like mechanics and thermal physics, like electrostatics and DC circuits and others.

Physics Bldg., room 401