2013 Section Meeting Report

AAPT Idaho-Utah Section Meeting Report March 2013
Section Representative: Brian A Pyper – Brigham Young University-Idaho Department of Physics
The Section Meeting for the Idaho-Utah Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers was held at Utah Valley University March 15-16 2013. The meeting was excellently organized by Phil Matheson, the section President-Elect, and was attended by 64 people, 4 HS Faculty, 26 College/University Faculty/Staff, and 34 students some of whom were jointly attending the combined SPS Zone 15 meeting.
The program included the ever-popular Demonstration Show, and a collection of contributed talks, a make-and-take ferro-fluids activity, and the section business meeting and annual section officer election.
The results of the election were as follows, with terms from 3-17-13 to 5/31/14:
Farhang Amiri from Weber State rotated off the presidential chain.
Brian Pyper, also the section representative, rotates from President to Past President.
Phil Matheson, of Utah Valley University rotates from President-Elect to President.
Kathryn Devine, of College of Idaho, rotates from Vice President to President-Elect.
Larry Smith, of Snow College was elected Vice President.
This means that the section meeting next year (2014) will be held at the College of Idaho in Caldwell, with Kathryn Devine as the local organizer, and the following year (2015) the section meeting will be held at Snow College in Ephraim, UT, hosted by local organizer Larry Smith.
ID-UT AAPT Group 2013

AAPT ID-UT Section Meeting Program

ID-Utah AAPT Meeting, March 15 and 16, 2013 Utah Valley University.
Program Outline:
Friday, March 15th
4:00 – 6:00 PM Registration Science Building Atrium (by SB 134)
6:15 – 7:15 PM Dinner Golden Corral 225 W. University Parkway
(Meet as a group to be seated as a group – $10.99/meal)
7:30 – 9:00 PM Physics Demo Night Science Building SB 134
Wayne Peterson, BYU Two Demos: The Siren Disk; Creating a Plasma in a Microwave Oven
Brian Pyper, BYU-I Miscellaneous Demos
James Coburn, USU Several demos and a new way to make them visible.
Adam Beehler, U of U Eyeglass Diagnostics
Richard Hills, WSU Galileo’s Regret, Newton’s Rocker, & Bossie’s Stutter-Step
Blake Centini, U of U Fun with magnetism and light
Paul Mills, UVU “Run of the Mills Demos”
Phil Matheson, UVU “Finger demos”
Saturday, March 16th
8:00 – 9:00 AM Registration Science Building Atrium (by SB 134)
(All talks are held in:)
9:00 – 9:10 AM Welcome Pope Science Building PS-202
Session Chair: Bonnie Andersen, UVU
9:15 – 9:30 AM Brent Bargeron, UVU Exit Interviews, a Useful Component of Departmental
Outcomes Assessments
9:30 – 9:45 AM Bill Evenson, UVU/BYU Improving Student Learning Through “Tuning”
9:45 – 10:00 AM Sarah Young, BYU-I Higher Test Scores Achieved by Students who Learn
Physics for the “Big-Picture”
10:00 – 10:15 AM Hector Davila, Joe Jensen, UVU Learning in Bigger Classes
10:15 – 10:30 AM Snack Break, Science Building Atrium
10:30 – 10:45 AM Tracianne Neilsen, Kent Gee, BYU The Physics of the Voice
10:45 – 11:00 AM Kent Gee, Tracianne Neilsen, BYU Teaching Sound Propagation at BYU
Football Games
11:00 – 11:15 AM Paul Weber, UVU Enhancing Modern Physics by Including Waves
11:15 – 11:30 AM Steve Wasserbaech, UVU In Class Demo: Solving the Schroedinger
Equation with an Excel Spreadsheet
11:30 – 11:45 AM David Ludlow, BYU Eliminating Algebra Mistakes in Physics Homework
With the Math Drag’n Application
11:45 – noon Dallin Durfee Exploring the Physics of Musical Scales with a MIDI
Noon – 1:30 PM Lunch/AAPT Business Meeting/ SPS Poster Session/Raffle Prizes
(Pick up your lunches in the Science Building Atrium, and eat in PS 202)
(SPS posters are in the Science Building Atrium)
(AAPT business meeting and raffle at 12:45 in PS 202)
(GROUP PHOTO AT 1:15 SHARP – In the Science Building Atrium)
AAPT continuing:
1:30 – 1:45 PM Rondo Jeffery, Fahrang Amiri , WSU Jumping Ring Levitation and other
Recent results
1:45 – 2:00 PM Bonnie Andersen, UVU Teaching LabVIEW with the Vernier SensorDAQ
2:00 – 2:15 PM Bonnie Andersen, UVU Applying Principles of Team Based Learning
In Lower and Upper Division Physics Courses
2:15 – 2:30 PM Dan Schroeder, Weber AJP and the Future of Physics Journals
2:30 – 2:45 PM Phil Matheson, UVU What should be taught in an “Energy Course”?
2:45 – 3:00 PM Cameron Summers, BYU-I Physics Attitudes Influence Learning
SPS Breakout meeting:
1:30 – 2:15 PM SPS leadership Pope Science Building 206
Optional Event: Hands on Workshop
1:30 – 3:00 PM Julie Callahan Cheap Ferro-fluids
Location to be announced

Optional Event: Planetarium Show
2:15 – 3:00 PM UVU- Planetarium Pope Science Building 206
List of SPS Posters
Monica Cervantes, UVU Real-time pathology with high-frequency ultrasound. A feasility study
using bovine tissues
Joseph Chandler, Merideth Gold, BYU BYU SPS Outreach Team
Margaret Jensen, USU Annual Solar Motion and Spy Satellites
Darren McKinnon, USU Mapping the Milky Way: Seeing the Galaxy at 1420 MHz
Rachel Nydegger, USU Effects of Light Pollution at Utah State University
Kelby Peterson, USU Simulation of UV Induced Discoloration on Space Polymers
Jordan Rozum, USU Modeling Spiral Galaxy Surface Luminosity to Explain – Non Uniform
Inclination Distributions
Laurel Thompson, UVU Methods for identifying aerosols by light scattering techniques
David Pease, UVU Testing Regions of Frequency Hysteresis of a Variable-Depth
Thermoacoustic Prime Mover

Just at reminder that Tuesday, March 5th is nominally the last day to submit abstracts for the March 15/16 ID-UT AAPT meeting. However, late submission may still be accepted up to March 12th. Please email any late submissions directly to phil.matheson@uvu.edu.

Registration begins Friday, March 15th at the UVU Science Building Auditorium, SB 134 at 4:00 PM. Saturday registration will begin at 8:00 AM at the same location. Regular registration is $15 and includes a box lunch and break-time snacks. Please pay with cash or check. We have no means of processing credit or debit.

A no-host dinner will be held at Golden Corral, 225 W. University Parkway, immediately adjacent to the UVU campus. Because it is a Friday night, the restaurant asks that at least a majority of the party be there at 6:15 sharp in order to be seated together. Stragglers will still be able to join us as long as there a sizeable group up front. We are planning for about 25.

The Friday Night Demo show will begin at 7:30 PM in the Science Building Auditorium. If you are able to present, please contact phil.matheson@uvu.edu to arrange for any supporting materials that you might need. Bring your local friends and relatives.

Saturday’s meetings begin at 9:00 AM

Julie Callahan will be conducting a hands-on workshop to manufacture low cost ferro-fluids Saturday afternoon. Please contact her directly to register for that event by email cosmic.callahan@gmail.com. Nominal workshop cost is $20.

We’re looking forward to seeing you then!

Spring 2013 Section Meeting at UVU!!

The Section meeting for Spring 2013 of the Idaho-Utah Section of the AAPT will be held March 15th and 16th at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.  The Society of Physics Students will be holding its regional meeting at the same time.




Contributed talks are welcome from all aspects of physics education.  Oral presentations will be limited to 15 minutes, including questions.  Poster presentations are also invited.


Please submit an abstract with title and author information to Phil Matheson at phil.matheson@uvu.edu no later than March 5th.

Contributions are welcome from all physics faculty particularly from high school faculty. This meeting is also an excellent venue for students interested in physics pedagogy and learning . Topics on “best practices”, student learning and effective program and classroom assessment are especially welcome.  Presentations of novel physics programs, laboratories, physics demonstrations and discussions about conceptual physics are highly encouraged.


In addition, dissemination papers on current physics topics are welcome, where such information would be of use, and interest in the student classroom experience. For example, information related to advances in fundamental physics such as the discovery of the Higgs Boson, embody a great deal of subtle physics. Similarly, topics such as climate change and energy use contain a great deal of interesting physics. Presentation of such information and ideas as would enhance educational aims are welcome.




In person registration will be held between 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM, Friday, March 15th in the Atrium of the Science Building at UVU, and again from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM Saturday, March 16th.  Participants may also register at the SPS reception held Friday from 4:00 PM until 6:00 PM at the Hampton Inn and Suites.


Participants may also pre-register online at





Rooms at $74/night are available at Hampton Inns and Suites, 851 West 1250 South in Orem.


The hotel is directly across the street from UVU. A pedestrian tunnel now links the south side of the busy University Parkway where the hotel is located, to the north side of the street where UVU is located, making for an easy walk.


Pre-reservations may be made at the $74/night rate by calling 801-426-8500.  Please use the reservation code “BYU” to obtain the low rate. (We’ll not elaborate on why the code is “BYU” and not “UVU”!)


A link to the online hotel registration is pending




Utah Valley University will be enjoying Spring Break during the AAPT meeting, and parking on campus will be unrestricted.


Information about UVU:


Utah Valley University is just off of I-15 at exit 269. Please visit http://www.uvu.edu/visitors/visit/index.html for addition information and maps.


The UVU Physics Department is quite young. It has graduated just over 60 students since 2004 (its first graduating class).  The department’s graduates have been accepted to many graduate programs and several UVU physics alumni have their PhDs and are well established in research careers. The department has ten full time faculty. The faculty are active in several research areas including thermal acoustics, geophysics, medical physics, astronomy and aeronomy.


UVU has grown tremendously during the last decade and during the 2011-2012 academic year had the largest student body count of any of the institutions of higher education in the state of Utah. (The University of Utah has reclaimed that distinction for the present.)

AAPT Update to Sections 5-2-12

AAPT Collaborative Projects

AAPT sponsors or participates in many special projects designed to enhance the teaching of physics and astronomy. Many projects are funded in part by the National Science Foundation, as well as by partner organizations such as the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics and the Society of Physics Students. Details of the projects with which AAPT is currently involved are located here.

Ongoing Projects


Future Projects

If you are interested in developing a collaborative project please contact Beth Cunningham or Robert Hilborn.

In August 2011, the AAPT Executive Board approved updated guidelines for anyone considering submitting a proposal to NSF, Department of Education, etc.

Meeting of the Idaho-Utah Section American Association of Physics Teachers Rexburg, Idaho, March 9-10, 2012

The Idaho-Utah Section of the AAPT held its annual meeting, March 9-10, 2012, at Brigham Young University – Idaho, Rexburg, Idaho. Brian Pyper, section president elect, organized the meeting. Many thanks to Brian for a very successful event! This meeting was held jointly with the zone SPS meeting.

There were 58 attendees (those who paid the registration fee). These included 34 students, 3 high-school teachers, and 21 college and university faculty and staff.

Friday evening, following dinner, we gathered for an invited talk by Steven Wasserbaech (UVU/CERN), followed by a physics demonstration show.

On Saturday, we heard 16 oral presentations given in two sessions.

During the lunch hour, 4 poster presentations were on display.

Business Meeting

We conducted our business meeting following lunch

We held elections of section officers. The officers of our section are now constituted as follows:

  • President: Brian Pyper, Brigham Young University – Idaho (former president elect, automatically succeeded our former president, Farhang Amiri.)
  • President-Elect: Phil Matheson, Utah Valley University (former Vice President. He will organize our annual section meeting in 2012.)
  • Vice President: We did not elect a vice president but voted to hold our meeting at Boise State University next year and to allow the AAPT members there to decide who will be vice-president. (No one from Boise State University attended our meeting this year.)
  • Treasurer: Adam Beehler, University of Utah (re-elected)
  • Section Representive: Brian Pyper, Brigham Young University – Idaho (elected for a three-year term)


7pmSteven Wasserbaech
8pmDemo ShowHarold StokesPulley
Wayne PetersonDoes a Holey Boat Sink?
Spencer PerryGatling Vortex Cannon
Adam BeehlerTable Top Snowflake
Ron GalliMusic Torque and Cats
James CoburnA Mechanics Medley
Duane MerrellThe Music Box Speaker, and fishing swivel wave demonstration.
Ryan Nielsen –Tuning forks and Pipes: Making it meaningful to musicians
Rondo JefferyJumping Rings
Steve ShropshireMore Jumping Rings
Brian PyperSpeed and sound in a helium-filled bugle, Ron Galli Commemorative Alphorn song, Magnetic eddy-current levitation, Tesla Coil


welcomeSteve Turcotte and Brian Pyper


Kent Gee and Tracianne Neilsen‘Sound’ physics? A discussion of acoustics in Utah’s sixth grade science curriculumAs part of Utah’s science core curriculum, sixth grade students are to learn about heat, light, and sound. Of the specific objectives listed for all three topics, the points related to investigating sound appear to be the most lacking and disconnected from the objectives found within the understandably more advanced Physics Core. Shortcomings of the current objectives and possible modifications that could help build a better foundation of physics concepts for students are described.


Tim WendlerAccurate Scientific Visualization in Research and Physics TeachingAccurate visualization is key in the expression and comprehension of physical principles. Many 3D animation software packages come with built-in numerical methods for a variety of fundamental classical systems. Scripting languages give access to low-level computational functionality, thereby revealing a virtual physics laboratory for teaching and research. Specific examples will be presented: Galilean relativistic hair, energy conservation in complex systems, scattering from a central force, and energy transfer in bi-molecular reactions.


Harold StokesLecture ClipsUsing Camtasia Studio software installed on a Lenovo Thinkpad tablet, I have made a large number of short videos of material discussed in class.


Jean-Francois Van HuelePseudoscience and AAPTThe recent National AAPT 2012 Winter Meeting in Ontario, CA featured several well-attended sessions on pseudoscience. I will report on what I learned from attending some of the talks. I will also relate how the learning experience may have been even better than the conference organizers intended.


Spencer PerryGatling Vortex CannonGenerating vortex rings by means of acoustical and mechanical energy. Vortex rings are an application of fluid dynamics, but they can be used to teach acoustics, Newton’s Laws, viscosity, pressure, and torque. The presentation will discuss our motivations for design and construction of the vortex cannon demos, what we learned about the relationships between parameters, and alternative methods of producing similar results. I will also discuss possible classroom applications and other possible applications outside the classroom.


Dallin S DurfeeA Classically Intuitive Spin on Quantum Angular MomentumI will discuss a way to connect the x, y, and z basis sets for the spin 1/2 system using a classical understanding of angular momentum. This method should help students to develop greater intuition for the quantum description of angular momentum, and highlights the connections between classical coordinate space and the Hilbert space used to describe quantum mechanical spin states.


Tracianne NeilsenPreliminary results of pre-class learning activitiesIt is significantly easier to create an effective learning experience during class if the students come prepared. In reality, this rarely happens because the students are busy with other things; thus it is necessary to require a graded assignment on the new material that is due prior to class as motivation. In an attempt to approach the Just-in-time Teaching methodology, pre-class learning activities (LA) have been implemented in the Descriptive Acoustics course to provide the students with meaningful engagement with the concepts before class. An LA consists of a hands-on interaction either with a simulation/applet on their computer or a small experiment. The students are required to submit one paragraph describing their experience and observations. Feedback from the students at the end of the first semester indicates that they generally enjoyed the learning activities and found them helpful.


Dennis PedersenCan Scientific Reasoning Ability and Epistemological Beliefs Limit Success in Introductory Physics?Research in Physics Education is shedding new light on the relationship between scientific reasoning ability, epistemological beliefs, and conceptual change in Introductory Physics. This talk will present data acquired from the Physics 123 course at BYU-Idaho in an ongoing effort to improve conceptual understanding among introductory Physics and Physical Science students.


Diana ColePhysics Education ResearchThe students in several of the mechanics/kinematics classes at the school were given an exam at the beginning of the semester. This exam tested their attitudes about science, their basic science knowledge, and their conceptual understanding of kinematics. I analyzed the results of this test and discovered a few interesting trends in the results, including a difference between male and female test scores as well as a correlation between the scores of the three parts of the test.


Adam RollPhysics Education Research IIPhysics is generally considered to be a difficult subject to truly understand. Our group is investigating how students best learn so that teachers can help students to understand physics better. With the data from a class of Physics 220-Electromagnetism students I am trying to find any statistically meaningful correlations between students’ backgrounds, their pre-course attitudes about science, their reasoning ability, and their conceptual understanding. these data will eventually be compared with post-course data for the same students and as well as data from other courses.


J. Ronald Galli and Farhang AmiriPHOTON MOMENTUM AND PRINCIPLES OF REFRACTION THROUGH A UNIFORMLY MOVING MEDIUMThe bending of light as it passes from one medium to another and undergoes a speed change is well established. Not so well established or understood is the change in photon momentum and the role that momentum plays in the refraction process. In particular, it is uncertain whether the momentum of a photon increases (P=nPo) or decreases ( P=Po/n) as a photon of momentum Po passes from a vacuum to a medium of refraction index n. This paper proposes that P=nPo and that the momentum change vector is perpendicular to the surface. We show that these two mutually inclusive assumptions can be used to get the relationships between the angles of incidence and refraction for all speeds of the moving medium.


AAPT: ROM277SPS: Lunch in ROM277, posters in front upstairs lobby
13:00David KardelisConservation of Angular MomentumI will present a way to use digital/webcams to demonstrate conservation of angular momentum. The technique allows for both elastic and inelastic collisions. Most classrooms probably have the materials at hand to run the experiment.
13:15Rondo JefferyJumping Ring MovieKey features of this ever-popular physics demonstration will be presented which show that it is much more than a simple application of Lens’ Law. High-speed movies of the jump confirm theoretical predictions based on understanding the magnetic field in and around the extended iron core and the phase-shifted ring current.
13:30Steve ShropshireImpact of Outreach on Physics Enrollment at ISUIdaho State University Physics Outreach has many aspects, from workshops for teachers, demonstration presentations for schools and community groups, Science Olympics, science festivals, and a Haunted Science Lab. A brief overview of these programs will be provided, enrollment and Graduation data will be presented, and the impact outreach has had on enrollment will be discussed.
13:45Todd LinesLight, Sound, & Perception: A Physicist teaching Biology and PsychologyBYU-I, as an institution, has undertaken a major effort to revitalize our GE program. Our team was given the charge to make a GE science class where the content was relevant to incoming freshmen. The design was to be a “vertical slice” through science rather than a general survey, explaining one science topic deeply rather than giving a shallow overview of science. The hope was that we would teach many things, but have a purpose that would drive interest governed by the major goal, aiding retention. Our class seeks to explain how video presentations motivate behavior (movies, commercials, etc.). Our goal is to teach the physics, biology, and psychology of light and sound. This talk is a short report of the charge we were given, how we are executing it, and a preliminary report of our results.
14:00Brian PyperChanging Reasoning Ability in College StudentsReporting on continuing efforts to improve conceptual understanding in introductory physics courses by paying explicit attention to improving students’’ reasoning ability.



Planetarium show

SPS Lunchtime posters

12 noonClaire ChowBiophysics Research: Investigating the Mechanisms of the Rho HelicaseThe termination of RNA transcription is a well-known phenomenon in the scientific community. While the exact mechanism behind transcription termination differs between prokaryotes and eukaryotes, in prokaryotes termination is often dependent on the actions of Rho. Rho is an ATP dependent helicase that acts to release the RNA from the rest of the transcription machinery upon completing of transcription. Even though it is broadly understood, the exact role Rho protein plays, during transcription, as well as its energy requirements have yet to be elucidated.This study attempts to better establish the energy requirement for Rho during transcription termination. The Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) was used, which allowed us to better visualize the protein-nucleic acid interaction and molecular movement as a whole. During this study, Rho was analyzed under various concentrations of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Results indicate that approximately 1mM of ATP is optimal to propel Rho along the RNA strand. However, adding a higher concentration of ATP did not increase Rho’s rate at which it moved along the RNA molecule. These finding not only gives insight into Rho’s minimal energy requirement but contributes to further understanding gene expression and regulation.
Zephne VaterlausBYU Success StoriesBYU’s SPS president presents a few of their successful activities including paper drag racers and origami hang gliders! Come learn and share a few ideas for SPS activities for your department!
Dayton SymeTBA
Jason StockSpatial Resolution of Large Scintilating Plastic DetectorsThis project looks into the feasibility of obtaining spatial resolution from a single large scintilator. With our data, we prove that resolution is possible, and that further research is warranted into the construction of a large angular corelation detector.


Online Preregistration here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDVxQWFOOEwzT0J0anhfQjNYNTkwbUE6MQ .


Contributed talks will be allowed 15 minutes (combined talks and questions). Posters are 1 hour (Sat noon). Brian Pyper will chair the oral sessions.


Campus parking lots are free after 4pm weekdays, and all day Saturdays. Campus maps are available online at http://www2.byui.edu/Maps/ .


There are now four hotels in Rexburg. There’s a Springhill Suites and an AmericInn by the south interchange, and a Days Inn by the Main street exit on at the intersection of Hwy20 and Hwy33, and a Super 8 on the corner of 2nd West and Main Street. The Super 8 is walking distance to campus, the others aren’t.

The AmericInn is offering us a rate of $65.90. Use reservation code UTAHID0312.

The Springhill Suites is offering us a rate of $72 using reservation code AAPT.

Both these sets of rooms (about 15 rooms at each hotel) will be released Wednesday the 7th of March.

We weren’t able to negotiate anything with the others. They may have better rates.

NOTE: Comments have been disabled due to the astounding amount of spam I’ve gotten. Email me directly if you have questions or comments.

Meeting of the Idaho-Utah Section American Association of Physics Teachers; Ogden, Utah, March 11-12, 2011

The Idaho-Utah Section of the AAPT held its annual meeting, March 11-12, 2011, at Weber State University, Ogden, Utah. Farhang Amiri, section president elect, organized the meeting. Many thanks to Farhang for a very successful event!


There were 47 attendees (those who paid the registration fee). On Saturday, 22 oral presentations were given in three sessions.

Continue reading Meeting of the Idaho-Utah Section American Association of Physics Teachers; Ogden, Utah, March 11-12, 2011

Meeting of the Idaho-Utah Section American Association of Physics Teachers; Pocatello, Idaho, April 30-May 1, 2010

The Idaho-Utah Section of the AAPT held its annual meeting, April 30 – May 1, 2010, at Idaho State University, Pocatello, Idaho. Steve Shropshire, section president elect, organized the meeting. Many thanks to Steve for a very successful event!

Printed Program. There were 38 attendees (those who paid the registration fee). On Saturday, 12 oral presentations were given in three sessions. Also on Saturday, an invited talk was given by Dr. Doug Wells, Idaho State University, “Physics at the Idaho Accelerator Center.”

Continue reading Meeting of the Idaho-Utah Section American Association of Physics Teachers; Pocatello, Idaho, April 30-May 1, 2010