2012 AAPT Washington Section Meeting

Western Washington University

last updated: 10/10/2012

Conference Theme:  

Creating Spaces for Student Creativity in Introductory Physics

Conference Abstract:

Students, and the public, commonly perceive physics teaching, and physics more generally, as dry and devoid of imagination.  Physics teachers, however, know our discipline to be alive with opportunities for creative thinking.  How can we, as instructors, provide students opportunities to exercise their own creativity while engaged in meaningful learning of physics content?  This year’s AAPT Washington state section meeting seeks to address this question through talks, posters, and informal discussion.  

Conference registration:

The Washington section meeting charges a registration fee of $15.  (The fee for students is reduced: undergraduate students $5; HS students and undergrad SPS members free.)  This fee is collected on Saturday during check-in, and is used solely to defray meeting costs (including lunch on site and refreshments during breaks).  

In order to assist with planning, it is requested that you pre-register for the meeting, by Oct. 6th, using this form.  (Unregistered persons who show up on Saturday morning, however, will not be turned away!)

Conference schedule:

All conference events will be held on WWU campus (SL 230), on Fri, Oct. 12th and Sat, Oct. 13th.




Friday, Oct. 12


Welcome, snacks and beverage, and register for workshops


Workshops and pizza dinner

Saturday, Oct. 13


Welcome and registration; coffee and muffins


Invited talks


Coffee break


Invited talks


Lunch provided on site; poster set up


Panel discussion on conference theme; Contributed talks


Contributed poster session; coffee and cookies


Business meeting and adjourn conference

Invited speakers:



James Day

University of British Columbia

Invention activities as preparation for learning laboratory data handling skills

Lezlie DeWater

Seattle Pacific University

Scaffolding creativity and imagination in physical science courses for pre-service elementary teachers

Kristen Larson

Western Washington University

Putting my money where my mouth is: Adventures in using lecture time to foster creativity in problem solving

Jeff Hashimoto

Ellensburg High School

Opportunities for creativity in high school physics

Don Pringle

Ferndale High School

Modeling instruction in the high school physics classroom

Donna Messina

University of Washington

Professional development that fosters teachers' creativity in bringing inquiry to the K-12 classroom

Ajay Narayanan, Adrienne Battle, and Keith Clay

Green River Community College

Sparking creativity through clubs and labs

Bruce Palmquist

Central Washington University

Facilitating student creativity using online simulations

Contributed presentations:

Conference participants are encouraged to present a contributed poster.  Posters may address the conference theme or any topic related to the learning and teaching of physics.  A small number of slots for contributed talks are also available.  Contributed talks may address any topic and are 12 minutes + 3 minutes for questions.  To present a poster, please send an email with your name, affiliation, and poster title by Oct. 6th to andrew.boudreaux@wwu.edu.  Please include a special note if you wish to present a contributed talk.

Friday workshops:

The workshops are available to teachers of physics and physical science at all levels, and provide opportunities to engage collaboratively with teaching materials and approaches suitable for classroom use.  Another goal is to support networking and development of professional community.  Toward that end, pizza and beverages will be provided!

Successful completion of workshops can earn clock hours through WWU’s teacher education program.  Workshops are free to participants, but pre-registration is required.  Registration closes on Friday, October 6th.  Please register using this form.

Workshop schedule:

(All workshops held in SL 230 on Friday evening, Oct. 12th)



Title and abstract

Bruce Palmquist, CWU


Creating and using hypothesis-testing investigations using online simulations.  In this workshop, you will learn how to develop investigations using PhET physics simulations (http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/physics). PhET simulations are effective tools for teaching students physics concepts and helping them learn investigative skills. The presenter will share some investigations he created, guide you through the process of creating your own investigation, and provide feedback as you start developing your own.

Mike Jackson, CWU


Exploration of electric circuits using hands-on activities and physics simulations. In this workshop, electric circuits will be explored using an experimental apparatus containing five light bulbs connected in various series and parallel configurations. This experiment has been used to assess student understanding of electric circuits in our introductory physics courses for majors, non-majors, and the general education program. Next, series and parallel circuits will be investigated using the PhET physics simulation http://phet.colorado.edu/en/en/simulation/circuit-construction-kit-dc. Along with a brief review of electric circuits, the workshop facilitator will share some investigations created by colleagues at Central Washington University including an equipment list for the hands-on activities.

Andrew Boudreaux, WWU


Invention tasks to support mathematical sense-making in physics. When we introduce new quantities in physics we usually explain mathematically how they are related to other quantities.  Too often students misinterpret the reasoning and simply memorize, approaching physics as a match-the-equation activity. Invention instruction, pioneered by Dan Schwartz, presents open-ended situations in which students must create mathematical procedures to characterize physical situations.   Invention tasks prime students to make sense of subsequent formal instruction. This workshop will engage participants in invention tasks and discuss classroom applications.

Driving directions and parking (also see maps below)

Directions from I-5 Northbound to parking lot:

  1. Take Samish Way EXIT 252 off of I-5
  2. Turn left onto S Samish Way.
  3. Left at first light to go over freeway.
  4. Left at next light onto Byron Ave (gas station on the corner).
  5. Drive up hill as Byron turns into Bill McDonald Parkway.
  6. Continue for ~1 mile; keeping straight through two stop lights.
  7. Turn right onto S. College Drive.  Head up the hill to the large gravel parking lots.  (These are the “C lots”; see map.)
  8. Parking is free in the C-lots starting at 4:30pm Friday and all day Saturday.  Please note that other lots are NOT free and that citations are given aggressively on the WWU campus.

Directions for I-5 Southbound        

Take Exit 252, which will deposit you at the intersection described in Step 4 above.

Walking directions from C-lots to Science Lecture Building (SL):

  1. From gravel parking lots, head north to cross W. College Way (or go through the tunnel if you have parked at the east end of the C-lots).
  2. Continue north and pass to the east of the athletic field; the “Staircase to Nowhere” sculpture will be on your right.
  3. Continue north up concrete steps and pass by or through the “San Juan Islands” (a distributed sculpture featuring small green people holding up big rocks).
  4. When approaching the “Four Iron Walls” sculpture, bear slightly west to reach Science Lecture Building (SL).  

Interactive Map:  http://www.wwu.edu/map/  Science Lecture (SL) is also called “SMATE” on this map

Printable Map:  http://www.wwu.edu/sites/default/files/campusmap.pdf (pdf)  Science Lecture is #43

Parking Map:  https://www.ps.wwu.edu/Parking/Map.html


Many lodging, dining, and recreation options exist in Bellingham.  See http://ww.bellingham.org.

For a synopsis of the 2011 meeting, please see http://www.instruction.greenriver.edu/physics/aapt/default.htm


Please contact andrew.boudreaux@wwu.edu with questions.