The National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics is a project sponsored by the American Association of Physics Teachers. It's purpose is to investigate the revitalization of undergraduate physics departments. This site provides information about the Task Force, as well as a report by the Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics which used campus site visits to provide specific insight into what makes an undergraduate physics program thrive.
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Radioactive Decay and Geochronology
This activity was developed to introduce upper level undergraduate students to dynamical systems modeling. In this exercise, students create a STELLA model of the radioactive decay process. They then learn how the special radioactive series 238U - 206Pb and 237U - 205Pb can be used to determine both the time when a rock initially crystallized and when it underwent a recrystallization, even when the sample being dated was not a closed system. Learning goals, context for use, teaching tips, materi
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Scaling Galileo's Solar System - Locating the Globes
In this activity students plot the position of model planets on a campus map by converting from polar coordinates to Cartesian coordinates, after calculating the planet positions from scaled orbits and periods. They recreate spreadsheets, shown in a Powerpoint module, with formulas that answer various pieces of the overall question. This module is the fourth in a series of four on the Galilean Solar System, and was designed for an undergraduate class where students look at geological questions m
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The Earth's Shells - Density vs. Depth
In this activity students devise a way of graphically plotting the density variations vs. depth in the Earth. They recreate spreadsheets, shown in the Powerpoint module, with formulas that answer various pieces of the overall question. This module is the sixth in a series of six that examine the density of planets and rocks, and was designed for an undergraduate class where students are asked to look at geological questions mathematically and may spend more time on the math than on the geology.
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The Earth's Shells - Thicknesses and Densities
In this activity students explore the combination of densities and shell thicknesses that produce an aggregate density of the Earth of 5.5 g/cm3. They recreate spreadsheets shown in the Powerpoint module with formulas that answer various pieces of the overall question. This is the fifth module in a series of six that examine the density of planets and rocks, and was designed for an undergraduate class where students are asked to look at geological questions mathematically and may spend more time
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The Floating Lithosphere - Cross Section of North America
In this activity students calculate the pressure at the depth of compensation along a cross section of North America. They recreate spreadsheets, shown in the Powerpoint module, with formulas that answer various pieces of the overall question. This module is the third in a set of three dealing with isostasy, and was designed for an undergraduate class where students are asked to look at geological questions mathematically and may spend more time on the math than on the geology. The site includes
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The Floating Lithosphere - Isostacy
This activity lays the mathematical underpinning for studying isostasy in the earth. Students numerically and then analytically determine the relations governing the depth of compensation in a variety of situations including a block of ice floating in water. They recreate spreadsheets shown in a Powerpoint module with formulas that answer various pieces of the overall question. This module is the first in a set of three exploring isostasy, and was designed for an undergraduate class where studen
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Winter Field Lab: Pond Hydrology
This field activity may be implemented during late winter or early spring when things have not quite thawed. From a frozen pond, students collect bathymetric data, measure water temperature and conductivity, locate ground-water inputs, and extract a sediment core. Back in the lab, they make hand and computer-contoured bathymetric maps, temperature and conductivity cross-sections, and run visual-core log, loss-on-ignition, and magnetic susceptibility tests. Then they draw conclusions about water
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Winter Field Lab: Snow Hydrology
This field activity may be implemented during late winter or early spring when things have not quite thawed. Students collect their own data from a snowpack, including measuring water equivalent, identifying types of snow metamorphism, finding evidence of precipitation patterns, and judging possible snowpack hazards. Back in the lab, students evaluate their data, draw conclusions, and make a report. This activity is designed for upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level geohydrology courses.
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GEOLogic: The Big Five Mass Extinctions
GEOLogic questions are puzzles that were developed to support students understanding of geoscience concepts while challenging them to develop better logic and problem solving skills. In this exercise, students are asked to match up the five largest mass extinction events with their relative dates, approximate duration, and severity (percentage of species that became extinct) based on clues given from various perspectives. This activity is appropriate for a high school science class or an introdu
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GEOLogic: The Three Stooges and Their Pet Dinosaurs
GEOLogic questions are puzzles that were developed to support students understanding of geoscience concepts while challenging them to develop better logic and problem solving skills. In this exercise, students are asked to match up each of the Stooges with their favorite group and species of dinosaur based on clues given about which order and group each Stooge prefers. This activity is appropriate for a high school science class or an introductory level undergraduate geoscience course, and can b
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GEOLogic: Volcanologists
GEOLogic questions are puzzles that were developed to support students understanding of geoscience concepts while challenging them to develop better logic and problem solving skills. In this exercise, students are asked to resolve how many days each of five volcanologists spent at a given volcano and what day they started for the volcano. There is also a second part where students are asked to do some additional research about volcanoes on the web. This activity is appropriate for a high school
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Issues of Culturally Responsive Educational Evaluation Pertaining to Native Americans
This 109-page PDF document provided a detailed account from a two-day workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation Directorate for Education and Human Resources. The workshop's purpose was to discuss issues of culturally responsive educational evaluation as they pertain to Native Americans. The three major themes of the workshop were evaluation issues relating to the academic achievement of Native American students, education/training opportunities for Native American evaluators, and de
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Technology Development for Sustainable Innovation
Conducting innovative research is working on the edge of the known and the unknown. In creating new technology the result is never guaranteed. Society faces a tremendous challenge in order to develop in a more sustainable way. What role is there for technology in this process of change? How could we stimulate innovations in technological systems?
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UChannel
The UChannel (also known as the University Channel) makes videos of academic lectures and events from all over the world available to the public. It is a place where academics can air their ideas and present research in a full-length, uncut format. Participating universities contribute video and audio recordings of lectures, seminars, panels and interviews to a virtual pool of academic content. Participants produce their own content, under their own name. The UChannel provides the audience for
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Genetic Basics
This brochure looks at how genes work, exceptions to Mendel's rules, how DNA gets replicated, genes and disease, current research and recent discoveries, and how applications of genetic research (biotechnology) are being used in agriculture, health, and pharmacogenetics (medicine) to change our world for the better.
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Federal Court Concepts
This module, "Federal Court Concepts", is designed to introduce secondary and postsecondary students to the American federal court system. It contains basic information about the structure of the federal courts, what kind of cases that federal courts hear, and how to use federal court decisions in research.
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Sampling Density Estimation and Spatial Relationships
This resource is a detailed manual of protocols and instructional information for carrying out an undergraduate laboratory exercise in general ecology, including student outlines, instructors notes, and suggested questions for laboratory reports.
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Supercooling and Freezing in Winter Dormant Animals
This resource is a detailed manual of protocols and instructional information for carrying out an undergraduate laboratory exercise in animal physiology and zoology, including detailed protocols and background information.
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Teaching Concepts of Plant Development With Lettuce Seeds and Seedlings
This exercise uses lettuce seeds and seedlings to illustrate several plant developmental processes and encourages simple student-designed research projects.
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