Courses at St. Ambrose University

    PHYSICS 203 (with labs): Semester one of algebra-based physics covering mechanics and thermodynamics.

    PHYSICS 204: Semester two of algebra-based physics covering electricity, magnitism, and optics.

    PHYSICS 253 (with labs): Semester two of calculus-based physics covering thermodynamics, electricity, and magnetism.

    ENGINEERING 320: Research Topics

Lecturing in Physics 253

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

TEACHING HIGHLIGHTS

    I developed new labs for Physics 203, which are more closely alligned with class, allow the students more hands-on set-ups that illustrate physical concepts, include more problem solving components, and I believe are a lot more fun than the previous labs. I have also begun to include small MATLAB components as a means of sneaking a little programming into the students' curriculum.

    Frictional Force

Take Some Pictures

Exploring Pulleys



    I developed a sequence of increasingly challenging goals to teach students some basics of MATLAB. The code slowly builds on itself as they build loops and if statements in order to create a picture. As students complete each successive challenge, they become familiar with key concepts including iteration (FOR loops), conditionals (IF statements), matrices, and graphing data. This is done in a visually rewarding way, so that it is easy to see when they have or have not coded it correctly giving them instant feedback.

Learning MATLAB

    I adapted a simple arcade tank game to use physically accurate numbers/units, and developed an associated classroom activity wherein students must correctly solve 2-D projectile physics problems in order for their team to win the game.

Projectile Motion Game

    I developed a lab for the Northwestern class "Civ. Eng. 440 – Environmental Transport Processes". The students injected dye into bedforms and traced the shape of the dye multiple times over a several hour period. They also measured topography, flow, and sediment characteristics about the flume. I created an interactive computer model of flow through two-dimensional bedforms in NetLogo, which the students customized using the lab measurements. Within the model they could place initial particles in the shape of the injected dye blobs and compare the simulated dye shapes to the traced shapes over time.

Student traces dye shape as it travels through a bedform in a flume

    As part of the Northwestern class "Environmental Science 201: Earth a Habitable Planet" I taught a SERTS tutorial in 2006 and 2007. As part of this exercise I supervised students as they collaboratively planned, analyzed, and measured hydraulic conductivity along the beach of Lake Michigan. The goal of this activity was to provide the students with a taste of field research, while allowing them the independence to exercise the scientific method.

Students measure hydraulic conductivty along the beach of Lake Michigan

    Laboratory flumes are very much like long aquariums with recirculating pumps that produce flow. This flow causes the water and sediments to interact in similar ways as it would in a real fluvial system. By adding dye to the stream it is possible to observe the flow of water, including turbulence patterns, advection, and dispersion. When dye is added to the sediment (sand) near the glass side of the flume, the regular flow patterns produced by the water-bedform interactions can be seen. This includes the fact that some of the water flows upstream in the sediments. I have demonstrated this flume behavior for audiences ranging in age from upper grade school to adult for Career Day for Girls, Take Your Daughters to Work Day, Northwestern's Communiversity Day, undergraduate labs, and various school field trips.

Flume demonstration at Career Day for Girls

    My husband and I taught a math problem solving class centered around the MATHCOUNTS contest program for middle schoolers. As part of this class I planned activities, created and graded homework, and learned a lot about flexibility and class time management. It gave me the opportunity to develop my teaching skills, to encourage enthusiasm for math and math problem solving, and to work with a group of highly motivated and talented middle school students.

    Here are some π Day problems you might enjoy.

Our 2011 MATHCOUNTS team ranked 5th in Illinois at State!