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Friday, May 12, 2017

Kansas EPSCoR 2017 "Modeling the Unseen in the Physical Sciences" teachers share AMO lessons at KATS Camp

     The Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) held its annual KATS Camp in Junction City, Kansas (KS) on April 21 - 23, 2017.  As a follow up activity to the 2016 KS EPSCoR Physics Teacher Workshop titled: Modeling the Unseen in the Physical SciencesKS NSF EPSCoR sponsored participants so they could attend the 2017 KATS Camp and network with other science teachers from around the state.
     During the 2016 summer KS EPSCoR workshop the invited middle and high school physics, chemistry and physical science teachers interacted with the KS NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures grant researchers: Chris Elles (KU), Ewe Thumm (KSU), AT Le (KSU) and Bret Flanders (KSU). Under this project team's guidance, the teachers made curricular connections to the grant's current research and created Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (AMO) lessons to teach to their students. These lessons specifically addressed the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Science and Engineering Practices that related to AMO Physics. As part of the workshop follow-up, teachers attending the KATS Camp were offered the opportunity to present on their workshop experiences, the AMO lesson plans they created, and their students reactions after teaching their lessons. Of the participants who attended the camp, five decided to present during the Kansas NSF EPSCoR AMO lesson sharing session titled Linking Contemporary Research to NGSS. This session was chaired by Dr. Paul Adams, Dean of the College of Education, and Professor of Education and Professor of Physics at Fort Hayes State University.  Adams has been a part of the KS NSF EPSCoR Physics Teacher Workshop planning team since its inception in 2015.
Tim Elsen, Molly Bovos, Kara Luce and Paul Adams
   During the KS NSF EPSCoR presentation, each teacher gave a short summary of what they learned at the workshop and then stationed themselves around the room to demonstrate their lessons. Audience members were encouraged to visit each station to learn how the workshop participants were teaching AMO topics in there classrooms. Wilbur Middle School science teacher and President Elect of KATS, Tim Elsen, discussed his lesson that introduced "the Electromagnetic Spectrum to middle school students by allowing them to 'discover' the infrared portion of the spectrum. Students recreate Herschel's infrared experiment in the classroom." Fellow workshop participant and physics teacher at Basehor-Linwood High School, Molly Bovos, presented a lesson on Modeling Laser Strength.  She explained "I worked on this lesson with my students and we found that there are many factors that contribute to the "strength" of the laser such as different types of light and radiation. We learned that strength could be described by frequency, energy, or power." Kansas physics teacher, Kara Luce from Holcomb High School, was attended the 2016 NE EPSCoR  Physics Teacher Workshop at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She discussed the history and current knowledge of electromagnetism as well as the usefulness of using demonstrations to illustrate its underlying physics concepts.
Pam Kraus
Pam Kraus, physics teacher at St. John's Military School said "I presented the lesson I designed at the EPSCoR workshop last summer. It was about using lasers to introduce the concept of electromagnetic radiation in preparation for teaching high school chemistry students about ER given off when excited electrons drop to lower energy levels."  She used different colored hand held lasers and gummy bears to demonstrate her topic. Adrianne Wedel, physics teacher at Newton High School, demonstrated her lesson on Modeling the Human Eye by showcasing cell phone and prism holograms.
Adrianne Wedel

   Ottawa High School's physics teacher and first time KATS participant, James Deane was an audience participant during the  KS EPSCoR presentations.  He commented on the session saying "I thought it was very informative. My fellow workshop attendees have put together some very polished activities." And he added, "If I had it to do over again, I would probably polish my workshop activity and present."
    As for the KATS Camp overall experience, Bovos, a first time participant, commented, "I gained so much by going to this conference and I think it is important for us to get together to revisit what we learned at the EPSCoR summer workshop."  And, Elsen emphasized, "I certainly hope that the EPSCoR summer workshop continues to promote attendance at KATS Kamp and offering the chance to present. This is a great way to promote networking and creative collaboration!"

Education and outreach funding for sponsoring Kansas physics teacher workshop participants' attendance to the  2017 KATS Camp was provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science