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FSU Faculty and Students Attend “Energy and How to Teach It” Workshop

Frostburg State University faculty members were among the staff that conducted the American Association of Physics Teachers/Physics Teaching Resource Agents (AAPT/PTRA) Workshop at the American Center for Physics in College Park, Md., in October.

FSU Professor of Physics Emeritus Francis Tam and Associate Professor Eric Moore joined AAPT/PTRA Director Jim Nelson, AAPT Programs Coordinator Janet Lane, and Katya Denisova of the Homeland Security Academy for the one-day event that focused on approaches to teaching about energy. Topics ranged from elementary to complex, from the difference between watts and lumens to the emission of light when atoms change energy states.

The workshop was a follow-up to a six-day institute that was held in July at Frostburg State University as part of the Improving Teacher Quality Through Training Opportunities in Physics and Physical Science (ITQ/TOPPS) project. The organization’s mission is to improve physics teaching and learning. Tam is the ITQ/TOPPS project director.

Hands-on group experimentation and team white-board presentations were the order of the day in the PTRA workshops. Topics included energy levels in atomic systems, mass-energy equivalence, insulation and r-values and comparison of the power outputs and relative efficiencies of fluorescent and incandescent bulbs.

Already funded for 2009 is the” Electricity Summer Institute,” with a grant application for continuing support in the works as well. The grant would include funds for a proposed workshop on wave motion, “Optics and Sound.”

The National Science Foundation has funded a series of PTRA initiatives, of which the Frostburg project is a part. ITQ/OPPS receives major support through the federal Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) program in conjunction with the Maryland Higher Education Commission under the “No Child Left Behind” Act.

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