Physics for Educators

Master of Science in Physics for Educators (MPED), Master of Science
Classes
MPE 510: Classical Mechanics
Broad coverage emphasizing interconnections of a mechanical description of the universe utilizing both algebraic and calculus language at a level appropriate for secondary school educators. Topics include: vectors and vector manipulation to describe motion, Newton’s laws of motion; work and energy concepts; energy and momentum conservation laws; models of forces and interactions; generalized coordinates and momentum; overview of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations.
MPE 520: Electrodynamics
Broad coverage at the appropriate level emphasizing interconnections of the electromagnetic interactions in the universe utilizing both algebraic and calculus language at a level appropriate for secondary school educators. Topics include: electro and magnetostatics and dynamics, boundaryvalue problems; Maxwell’s equations; overview of electromagnetic properties of matter and wave propagation (radiation).
MPE 530: Modern Physics
Broad coverage of the three central areas of modern physics that emphasize the wonder and interconnections at the conceptual level appropriate for secondary school educators. Topics include: Quantum Physics (postulates, Schrodinger and Dirac formalisms, implications and interpretations), Special and Introduction to General Relativity (the fourvector, spacetime, invariants, time dilation and length contraction), and Thermo/Statistical Physics (macroscopic variables, equation of state, state functions, response functions, microscopic variables, statistical approach, ensembles, the partition function).
MPE 540: Differential Equations in Nature
Emphasizes connections and interconnections with the mechanical, electromagnetic, and modern areas as well as mathematical areas of oscillations, waves, and optics utilizing differential equations at a level appropriate for secondary school educators. Topics include: Free, damped, and drivendamped oscillations, waves, Doppler Effect, optics, interference and diffraction. Examples are drawn from a wide range of physical phenomena to illustrate each concept. To develop this content, homogeneous and nonhomogeneous differential equations of the first and second order will be employed. Thick contextual meaning will be drawn to support mathematical foundation and vice versa to allow for deeper “authentic” learning.
MPE 550: Computational Methods in Physics
Topics are chosen to illustrate various numerical techniques useful for educators and students to illustrate physics concepts and develop a sense of physical intuition through simulations and modeling. It is not intended to be a course on numerical methods; rather it will be aimed at the application of numerical methods to physical models. Various programming languages/ platforms are utilized in each example to highlight the general nature and to provide choices matching students programming backgrounds.
MPE 560: Experimental Methods in Physics
Handson methods of physically testing concepts and models of the universe. Technology is utilized but general methods accessible to barely outfitted lab environments are stressed. Topics covered are in a series of subject units, the physical principles underlying the phenomena to be observed and the basis for the measurement techniques employed is reviewed. Principles and uses of standard laboratory instruments (oscilloscopes, meters for frequency, time, electrical and other quantities, lockin amplifiers, etc.) are stressed. In addition to systematic measurement procedures and data recording, strong emphasis is placed on processing of the data, preparation and interpretation of graphical presentations, and analysis of precision and accuracy, including determination and interpretation of best value, measures of error and uncertainty, linear best fit to data, and identification of systematic and random errors. Preparation of highquality experiment reports is also emphasized. Representative experiment subjects are: mechanical motions and vibrations; free and driven electrical oscillations; electric fields and potential; magnetic materials and fields; electron beam dynamics; optics; diffractiongrating spectroscopy; radioactive decay and nuclear energy measurements.
MPE 572: Physics Research Experience for Teachers
Provides educators with handson research experience either in the research programs in Physics at WPI or other venues but under the oversight of the physics faculty. The goal is to support the active involvement of educators in research in order to translate their research experience into new classroom activities and build long term collaborative relationships between the researcher(s), educator(s), and potentially the educator (s’) students. Research activities can range from experimental to theoretical to computational and can involve multiple educators and/or their students with some expectation that the activity may lead to a publication.
MPE 574: Physics for Citizens and Leaders
Emphasizes physics concepts and connections to society. Educators will explore and understand the important connections between society and the relevant physics concepts and their context. The goal is for the educator to be able to apply critical thinking of the application of physics to important societal issues. Topics can range from energy options, climate change, technology assessment and risk, ethical use of science.
MPE 576: Physics in Popular Culture
Covers myths and misconceptions of physics in popular culture (i.e., movies, books, TV, web, etc.). The goal of this independent study is for the educator to be able to identify how the representation of physics in popular media perpetuates important myths and misconceptions that impact reasoning and critical thinking, sometimes in a profoundly negative way. Emphasis is placed on utilizing these representations as teaching/learning moments for the specific relevant physical concepts.