Friday, July 29, 2016

The Power of Student Coding in Physics

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a 30-minute talk about student coding in physics at the AAPT National Meeting in sunny Sacramento. I'm including a link to the presentation below. The ideas are several:

  • "I don't code in my physics classes: why should I?"
  • "What tools should I have my students use to code physics?"
  • "How can I help my (esp. younger) students with some CS concepts?"
  • "What sorts of programs can my kids and I write in intro physics/intermediate division physics?"
  • "I haven't coded much before: I need some examples of code, too!"

Robot Project: Results

My Electrical Engineering elective ran a term-long project (in the vein of project-based learning) this spring with the goal of building a robot to overcome an "obstacle" (taken in the broadest sense).

Some previous posts on this project:

First-time logistical hiccoughs aside, the projects were generally successful, whether that was complete success (robots successfully overcoming their obstacles) or partial success (all subsystems working, some sort of late-game failure or unexpected exception).

I built an 'arena' for this, with each robot having its own triangular area in which to place its robots, obstacle(s), and goal:

A few of the robots:

A successful robot (obstacle was darkness - it switches to battery backup when the solar panel output drops):

I was happy with the amount of dedication that the project inspired in the students - they worked very diligently and picked up a lot of skills in the engineering and coding realms. A few tweaks for next year, but it's a keeper!