STEM/Physics Workshop: Creating Models for Refraction of Light

WORKSHOP LEADERS: Mark Schober (Head of Science, Trinity School) and Kofi Donnelly (Head of Science, Heschel School).


ORGANIZER: Fernand Brunschwig, Math, Sci. & Tech. Dept., Columbia Teachers College

CAPACITY: limited to 30 participants.

DESCRIPTION: This workshop is primarily about the process of model-making – we will be doing what scientists do as they strive to understand how DNA turns itself on and off, to explain the formation of the Moon, and to develop string theory. Join us to engage the creative side of your brain in making and testing models! Help us figure out how to engage our students' creativity in the same way!

Most textbook treatments of light and optics focus on the behaviors of light and optical instruments. As a result, the study of optics ends up being fragmented into lots of disconnected facts and loses any kind of storyline that could help students tie all of the ideas together. The Modeling approach unifies the study of light and optics under the question, "What is Light?" By studying the observable behaviors of light, students build, evaluate, refine, and apply ray, particle, wave, and photon models of light. 

This 3-hour workshop focuses on the initial “chapter” of the storyline: refraction. We will develop the key patterns of refraction from experiment. Then, we will engage in the creative aspect of scientific model building, working to explain refraction in terms of a “ray” or “particle” model of light. This activity gets to the heart of how science works as a creative, dynamic endeavor, rather than the production and consumption of scientific "facts.”

This summer, STEMteachersNYC is offering an intensive, 3-week Modeling Instruction workshop (“Models of Light”) that will develop the full storyline, including the experimental and theoretical aspects of the ray, particle, wave, and photon models. Registration and full details are at <>.

Questions should be addressed to Fernand Brunschwig <fbrunsch AT>. If you want to get earliest email notification of future workshops, fill out application at <>, and you will be invited to join the STEMteachersNYC Google Group.

STEMteachersNYC was originated in summer 2011 (as PhysicsTeachersNYC) by a group of teachers as a teacher-led physics study group. The group members were all practitioners of a curriculum and pedagogy known as Modeling Instruction, developed collaboratively by university and high school physics educators over the past 20 years. STEMteachersNYC conducts classroom-oriented workshops on the weekend during the school year as well as intensive 3-week summer Modeling Instruction Workshops. STEMteachersNYC is the local alliance of the American Modeling Teachers Association. For upcoming workshops see <>.

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  • Yosef

    Is there a fee?

    March 2, 2014

7 went

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