Enhancement of the Learning & Experiential in Physics

Activity 5: Enhancement of the Learning and Experiential Environment for

Majors and Minors in Physics

Students from Summer Transportation Institute describe their robotic project during their visit to Physics in June 2007

Dr. Prem Saganti instructs his Physical Science Survey laboratory students on data processing with Excel.

Activity Overview

Over the course of five years’ funding from Title III, our above-mentioned activity has greatly increased our capabilities to offer the state-of-the-art instruction in physics and physical science courses. New research and teaching laboratories have been established: the Science Education Center, the Physics Learning Center, the Computational Physics Laboratory, the Radiation & Medical Physics Laboratory, and the Materials Science & Magnetic Field Laboratory. Students in STEM disciplines, and those majoring in education, have been positively impacted by these changes.

Activity Outcomes

The outcomes of this activity are summarized in the following six points:

  1. Enhanced capability, as seen from increased enrollments and increased interest, on the part of the department to collaborate with several summer programs such as MITES, ESCI, STI, and PCI.

  2. Increased use of the Physics Learning Center for tutorial sessions;

  3. Ability to conduct teacher training activities for local area schools;

  4. Ability to sponsor and conduct, for the first time, a 1-week summer program in physics for students from Royal High School;

  5. Integration of LEGO Robotics and K’nex into the teaching of Physics and Physical Science to exercise the creative and problem-solving talents of students while simultaneously illustrating the principles of physics and how physics is integrated in engineering;

  6. Increased outreach component to area schools and teachers.

Activity Impact

The following are examples of the impact that Activity 5 has had on the department, college, university, and beyond: approximately 25 high school teachers and administrators, visiting middle and high school students, and 2 members of the U. S. Department of Education. Our laboratories hosted a total of 2200 physics laboratory and 650 physical science laboratory students, and we have assisted 1085 students in tutorial sessions. A total of 52 students made use of our computational physics laboratory and 315 Education majors took courses that included material from Online Weather and Online Ocean Studies, whose licenses were maintained with Title III. We also have been active with summer programs, including two groups within the Pre-College Institute totaling 161; all-day workshops with students of the Summer Transportation Institute, totaling 67; visits from 30 Royal Middle School students and 30 from Eisenhower High School; and 120 students from the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math preparation group.

In addition, we have been an active participant in Career Day at the O-Bryant Intermediate School in Bellville, Texas each year since 2004, making presentations to a total of 775 individual students. We have welcomed visits by students from places such as Royal High School, Westfield High School, Hempstead High School and Waller High School. Our laboratories and facilities are impacting more school and college students even after the completion of the grant. Additional external funds are also being generated to sustain and enhance these efforts. An example is the 5-year collaborative funding with Royal High School (2005-2010) from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. More information about these may be found at http://www.pvamu.edu/marshallgates.

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