Curriculum Development

The core emphasis of our department is effective teaching.  We work diligently to improve the ways in which we prepare students for their post-graduate endeavors.  One important way of doing so is to secure funds from external sources such as the National Science Foundation.  Grants help us purchase modern equipment and allow us to spend ample time revitalizing the content and format of our lecture and laboratory sections.  When developing new curricular materials and methods, we work closely as a team to best utilize our diverse backgrounds and skills.  We tailor our physics program to match the needs and interests of students following a variety of educational paths.  Our curriculum is in a constant state of renewal.

Here is a summary of our major initiatives since the mid 1990s:

2012-2015:  Awarded an NSF-TUES grant to overhaul the Applications of Modern Physics (PHYS 225) lab and lecture.  Emphasis is on materials science applications of basic quantum mechanics, with particular relevance to electrical engineering majors.  Applications of Modern Physics curriculum development website (NSF-TUES Grant #DUE-1140034, Lopez del Puerto)

2012-2015: Awarded an NFS-TUES grant to develop curriculum and technology allowing the use of remotely controlled observatories in astronomy and physics labs (NSF-TUES Grant #DUE-1140385, Ruch)

2012-2013: Awarded a MathWorks, Inc. Curriculum Development grant to embed computation and experimentation in the Physics curriculum. Embedding Computation website (MathWorks, Inc. Curriculum Development Grant; Green, Jalkio, Johnston, Lopez del Puerto, Ohmann)

2008-2010:  Developed new computational laboratories for PHYS 225 lab using MATLAB.  Applications of Modern Physics curriculum development website  (MathWorks, Inc. software grant; Lopez del Puerto)

2008-2010:  Designed and built a new observatory to complement the Astronomy class, for public outreach, and for student research projects. (Funded by the University of St. Thomas; Johnston, Ruch)

2005-2008:  Created a new laboratory section for the Optics course (Physics 347).  Experiments focus on both physics and engineering skills in the context of a biomedical and biological optics theme. (NSF-CCLI Grant #DUE-0509869; Green)

2003-2007:  Addressed the needs of K-12 science and mathematics education.  Developed a research network throughout Minnesota that learned about the practices of new elementary and secondary-level teachers. (Teacher Research Network Grant; Tommet)

2003-2006:  Incorporated real-world computational physics problems into all upper-division courses to complement students' analytical and laboratory skills. (NSF-CCLI Grant #DUE-0311432; Ohmann, Green)

2002-2005:  Developed new experiments in nonlinear dynamics, atomic physics, and vacuum technology for the Methods of Experimental Physics course (Physics 323). (NSF-CCLI Grant #DUE-0126849; Johnston)

1997:  Overhauled introductory course sequence (Physics 111 and 112). Replaced separate lecture and laboratory sections with individual 2.5-hour workshops. (Johnston, Tommet, Lane, Lawrence)

1996-1998:  Created new and improved experiments for Modern Physics courses (Physics 225 & 226). Emphasis on timing techniques and vacuum technology. (NSF-ILI Grant #DUE-9651386;  Johnston)