Courses at Reed
PHYS 331: Advanced Lab I is the junior level laboratory course for the physics majors at Reed. Students spend half of their time on advanced electronics and half of their time learning LabVIEW. There is also a significant focus on research writing skills: journal-style lab reports, lab notebooks, and program documentation.
PHYS 202: Modern Physics (+ Lab) is the spring semester sophomore course for the physics majors at Reed. The course covers thermal physics, special relativity, an introduction to quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics, and a smattering of nuclear and particle physics. The lab portion introduces students to numerical methods, traditional modern physics experiments, and journal-style lab reports. In 2017, I incorporated Plickers into most of the lecture periods. These were used to engage students, highlight tricky conceptual missteps, and as a formative evaluation for both students and faculty.
TRIUMF Postdoc Lecture Series
The TRIUMF Postdoc Lecture Series provides free lectures for graduate students and teaching experience for postdocs. Postdocs are invited to give 6-10 lectures on a particular topic. The lectures are aimed at junior graduate students, but are completely customizable by the postdoc.
I gave six one-hour lectures on Nuclear Physics in Summer 2015. Class size ranged from 7 to 22 and students included lab staff, senior undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs. The course outline, resource list, and slides are available online. My goal was to create a classroom environment where students could engage the material and construct it themselves, rather than listening passively to a talk. I included a pre- and post-course self-evaluation and peppered the lectures with clicker questions.
The small number (5) of evaluations received were primarily positive: students of different levels learned what they expected to learn. The most common complaint/suggestion was that six lectures was really too few to cover this material appropriately. A copy of the evaluation survey results is available upon request.
Physics of Atomic Nuclei
The Physics of Atomic Nuclei (PAN) Program is a one-week summer camp located at Michigan State University and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL). There were two sessions one for high school teachers and one for high school students. Each morning was filled with interactive lectures from faculty at the NSCL. Three of the afternoons were spent working with the Modular Neutron Array (MoNA).
My role in this camp revolved around the afternoons work with the Modular Neutron Array and changed each year. During camp, I introduced the afternoon sessions with a short lecture, fielded questions from campers, coordinated graduate student lab assistants, led the afternoon session, and served as a graduate student lab assistant myself. I also modified the laboratory materials when necessary.
The Women and Minorities in the Physical Sciences outreach team traveled to schools in Detroit and Chicago to present interactive lessons on atomic and nuclear physics to high school students in high minority-serving areas. The lesson varied from one to three hours and vary depending on the team members present. The basic lesson included the size of atoms and nuclei, the definition of an isotope, various properties of different isotopes, real-life applications of nuclear physics, demonstrations of cross-section and nuclear fragmentation, and a basic explanation of experimental operations at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. Each graduate student then talked about his or her own research as an extension of this basic lesson.
As a graduate student team member, I was responsible for preparing slides about my research and explaining my research to high school students in a manner accessible to them. I was also responsible for teaching parts of the basic lesson, including some demonstrations.
MRSEC Summer Camps
The Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at the University of Maryland hosts summer camps for 4th-11th graders from partner schools. The goals are to extend academic year learning and increase interest in science and engineering. There is a focus on inquiry-based learning. Several one-week camps for different age groups and with different topics occur throughout the summer.
I worked with four different camps during one summer, across all age groups (elementary, middle school, high school). My role as a student counselor was to work the MRSEC staff, develop lesson plans for the camp, coordinate lesson logistics, teach or assist with lessons, assist with camp logistics, and get to know the campers. I participated in a general science and engineering camp for elementary school students, a spy science camp and a nanoscience camp for middle school students, as well as an engineering design and production camp for high schoolers.
SPS Outreach Catalyst Kit
The Society of Physics Students (SPS) Outreach Catalyst Kit contains materials to assist college students in outreach activities. The 2008 SOCK explored wave phenomena in different settings: physical, acoustic, and optical. Supplies for the different topics (polarization, reflection, refraction, and sound) were included, along with lesson plans for each topic, worksheets, and a resource CD with instructional videos.
I was one of two Society of Physics Students interns responsible for the creation of the 2008 SOCK. We came up with demonstration ideas, worked out the logistics of each demonstration, and tested them in an elementary and a high school. We also wrote the user's manual for the kit, including guidance for beginning an outreach program, cheat sheets for chapter members needing a brush-up, and detailed lesson plans for different levels of students.
Rhodes College Physics Tutor
The Department of Physics at Rhodes College has two physics majors who serve as tutors for the introductory physics course. As a tutor for the first semester of introductory physics, I assisted other students (mostly non-majors) with their questions, problems, and homework. Only one tutor was available at a time and there could be more than 20 students in the help room at a time, so I focused on facilitating peer tutoring as much as I focused on tutoring myself.