Physics in the Mathematics Curriculum Summary

Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Training in PCMI Website by Suzanne 1:00 - 1:30 in computer lab (how to log on, what's on site, update personal biography, access daily journal, how to access and post to PCMI site)

Continued discussion of our purpose:

  • Discussed existing mission statement on the PCMI website. How will we adjust this?
  • Yesterday's statement: Using physics as a context to present and study the concept of function (linear, quadratic, logarithmic, inverse, power, etc.)
  • Other ideas: seeing mathematics through the lens of physics.
  • Helping students overcome common misunderstandings by using the lens of physical activities to focus their thinking.
  • Activities we suggest and develop should be dense in mathematics, open- ended in nature, and should include the physics background needed by teachers to students to really understand the physical concepts involved in the activity.
  • Perhaps we should brainstorm on areas in which students typically have troubles, and used this as a focus of what we select to develop activities on. Don't just limit ourselves to trouble areas; the physical activities can be used just as well to reinforce, expand, and apply mathematical concepts previously learned.
  • Idea: physics and science teachers often complain students cannot solve literal equations (equations that don't involve x and y).

Swinging an Open Tube in the Air
Mathematical Concept: Step Functions, (number of revolutions per second versus tone).
Demonstration of wave introduction for students: students stand shoulder to shoulder with hand on shoulder. Show longitudinal and transverse waves and different wave speeds.

Activity:
  1. Swing the tube at various speeds. How many modes are possible with your tube?
  2. Swing the tube to create the first tone consistently. Time 10 revolutions. How many revolutions/sec?
  3. Repeat step 2 for each different mode of your tube?
  4. Gather data from all groups.
  5. Plot pitch as a function of frequency.

Tomorrow, we plan to brainstorm other ideas, then fully develop these activities through the next two weeks.

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© 2001 - 2015 Park City Mathematics Institute
IAS/Park City Mathematics Institute is an outreach program of the Institute for Advanced Study, 1 Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540
Send questions or comments to: Suzanne Alejandre and Jim King

With program support provided by Math for America

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under DMS-0940733 and DMS-1441467. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.