Invited Talks

Friday, April 24, 2015

2:15 – 2:45 Andrew Duffy, Boston University
Teaching AP Physics 1 to the World (PDF)

Since January, we have been teaching an online course on edX, called Preparing for the AP Physics 1 Exam. As it sounds, the course is designed to prepare high school students for the AP Physics 1 exam in early May. However, covering basic introductory physics, the course has also attracted a wide variety of students from around the world. Topics covered in this talk include statistics regarding student demographics and student involvement as the course has progressed; examples of the online labs we have set up, many based on direct-measurement videos or HTML5 simulations – this is aimed at the requirement that 25% of the course be lab-based; and a discussion of our experiences teaching an online course. Course development has been supported by Boston University’s Digital Learning Initiative, as well as by a grant from edX.

2:45 – 3:15 Jeff Williams, Bridgewater State University
Evolution of teaching at an undergraduate college (PDF)

At Bridgewater State University, I have been making significant changes specifically to two courses. I along with another professor have changed our introductory physics course from a standard lecture/lab to a studio-style course using a NSF STEP grant. The Energy and Society course, one of the popular science core requirements, was a face to face course for many years. I moved it to an 80/20 web course, then to 100% on-line and now I am flying book free 100% on-line. I will talk about the development of the two courses and along the way intermingle the talk with observations about being a professor at a primarily undergraduate university.

3:30-4:00 Bennett Goldberg, Boston University
The future of STEM education: Preparing the next generation of faculty (PDF)

More than 80% of future STEM faculty that will teach the next generation in the 4,500+ institutions of higher education in the US receive their PhDs at fewer than 100 institutions. Preparing graduate students and postdocs now to use evidence-based instruction, active-learning, and effective teaching practices can change the future of higher education. We discuss the model of the Center for the Integration of Research Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Network, a coalition of 22 universities preparing future faculty. To scale and reach the more than 43,000 STEM PhDs that graduate each year and 20,000 that take postdoctoral positions, we created a massive open online course, “An Introduction to Evidence-based Undergraduate STEM Teaching.” Remarkably, 50% of postdocs and nearly 40% of graduate students who signed up completed the course, demonstrating a significant need and success at serving our target audience.

4:00-4:30 Scott Bunch, Boston University
Atomic and Molecular Separation through Porous Graphene (PDF)

Graphene, a single layer of graphite, represents the first two dimensional atomic crystal. It consists of carbon atoms covalently bonded in a hexagonal chicken wire lattice. This unique atomic structure gives it remarkable electrical, mechanical, and thermal properties. However, it is the mechanical properties of this material that fascinate our group the most. It is the thinnest and strongest material in the world as well as being impermeable to all standard gases. This high strength, extreme flexibility, and unprecedented barrier properties make graphene an intriguing material for membrane based filtration. Graphene acts as a barrier for gases and liquids and represent the thinnest membrane possible (one layer of atoms) with the smallest pore sizes attainable (single atomic vacancies), and unprecedented mechanical stability. In this talk, I will review our experimental work on gas and liquid ion transport through angstrom sized pores in suspended porous graphene membranes. These measurements help elucidate the fundamental molecular and ionic transport mechanisms in this unique material.

4:30-5:00 Tomas Palacios, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
System-Level Applications of Two-Dimensional Materials: Challenges and Opportunities

Two-dimensional materials represent the next frontier in advanced materials for electronic applications. Their extreme thinness (3 or less atoms thick) give them great flexibility, optical transparency and an unsurpassed surface-to-volume ratio. At the same time, this family of materials has tremendously diverse and unique properties. For example, graphene is a semimetal with extremely high electron and hole mobilities, hexagonal boron nitride forms an almost ideal insulator, while MoS2 and other dichalcogenides push the limits on large area semiconductors.

The growth of these materials over large areas has allows their use in numerous system-level demonstrators. For example, the zero bandgap of graphene and its ambipolar has been used in a wide variety of rf and mixed applications, including frequency multipliers, mixers, oscillators and digital modulators. At the same time, the wide bandgap of MoS2 in combination with advanced fabrication technology has enabled its use in memory cells, analog to digital converters and ring oscillators with orders of magnitude better performance than other materials for large area applications. These and other examples will be discussed to highlight the numerous new opportunities of 2D materials.

Dinner speaker Eric Mazur, Harvard University
Flat space, deep learning (PDF: Part 1, Part 2)

The teaching of physics to engineering students has remained stagnant for close to a century. In this novel team-based, project-based approach, we break the mold by giving students ownership of their learning. This new course has no standard lectures or exams, yet students’ conceptual gains are significantly greater than those obtained in traditional courses. The course blends six best practices to deliver a learning experience that helps students develop important skills, including communication, estimation, problem solving, and team skills, in addition to a solid conceptual understanding of physics. This showcase will discuss the course philosophy and pedagogical approach and participants will take part in a new form of collaborative assessment.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

10:30-11:00 Tony F. Heinz, Stanford University
Optical Properties of Two-Dimensional Materials – Graphene and Beyond (PDF)

Graphene, a single atomic layer of carbon atoms, has attracted great attention worldwide because of its potential for novel science and technology. Recently, this interest has expanded to the much wider class of 2D materials that occur as layers of van-der-Waals crystals. While preserving graphene’s flexibility and tunability by external perturbations, atomically thin layers of this broader set of materials provides access to more varied electronic and optical properties, including semiconducting and insulating behavior.

In this presentation, we will discuss some of the distinctive optical properties of this emerging class of atomically thin 2D materials. Graphene has now been investigated across a spectral range from the THz to the UV. The optical properties reveal much interesting physics and also show strong tunability in response by means of external gating. Recently, atomically thin layers of semiconductors in the family of transition metal dichalcogenides (MX2 where M = Mo, W and X = S, Se, Te) have also been prepared and investigated. Although weak light emitters in the bulk, at monolayer thickness these materials emit light efficiently. We will describe some of the surprising properties of these systems, from strong and anomalous excitonic effects to valley selective excitation and control.

11:00-11:30 Saif Rayyan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Upper Level Physics MOOCs for Online and Blended Learning (PDF)

I will describe some of the experiments in offering MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for upper level undergraduate and graduate physics courses at the physics department at MIT. As an example, I will discuss 8.05x: Mastering Quantum Mechanics, an online intermediate quantum mechanics course offered openly on the edX platform this Spring (2015). In addition to offering the MOOC, a selected group of MIT students is taking the course for credit, where contact hours are greatly reduced in favor of online activities. I will discuss the process of planning and creating 8.05x, the technologies used, and the differences between the MOOC and the MIT residential offering in terms of demographics, activity and performance. I will also extend the discussion to other past and planned upper level physics MOOCs where the MOOC is used to increase the flexibility of offerings of specialty courses, so students do not have to wait for the next time the course is offered and are able to take the course for credit either via a special offering or via self study.