TEACHING EXPERIENCE AND RECOGNITION
During my career, I very much enjoyed teaching and taught courses at Indiana University at all levels, from freshman physics to advanced graduate courses. My teaching was
highly valued at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, and over the years I
received a number of awards from the physics
graduate students, from the department, and from the university.
In 1993 my contributions to teaching, innovation and outreach were recognized by
one of Indiana University's highest awards for Excellence in Teaching,
COURSES AND SOME COMMENTS
Courses I taught over the years included Physics Odyssey, Excursions into Physics, Physics in the Modern World, General Physics (for life-sciences and pre-med students), Physics (with calculus, for physics/science majors), Electromagnetism, Classical and Analytical Mechanics, The Theory of Continuous Media (that included shock waves,
tides, tsunamis and some basic aerodynamics), and High Energy Particle Physics.
As a select member of the university Honors Faculty, I designed and taught two new courses-- Einstein's Universe and Beyond, and Breaking the Cosmic Code.
In addition, I supervised several seniors in special reading courses, guided one student through a 'Famous Physicists' course for her MAT, and wrote (or re-wrote) the instructions for innumerable lab experiments. I also submitted a detailed proposal/syllabus for a course on General Relativity and Cosmology for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students.
When appropriate, I made frequent use of demonstrations and video clips. (I was the first to introduce into the department some of what
have become standard demos, such as the tablecloth pull, the bed-of-nails, 'freezing' the fan, and atomic spectral line displays
with (free) diffraction gratings.)
I was an early advocate of using a class-specific website. Students appreciated the easy access and convenience of a homepage that had direct links to Announcements and Reminders, Class Personel, General Information, Course Schedule, Laboratory Schedule, Homework Assignments, Homework Solutions,Practice Exams, Practice Exams Solutions, Exams, Exams Solutions, and Student Scores. It was also a good way to provide links to additional material on related topics.
During the 1990's, there was a lot of discussion in academia about distance/distributed learning. Personally I supported this idea, it being a convenient (if not the only) option for some students. However, having mentored a distant high school student via the internet on a Black Holes honors project, I am well aware of the time commitment involved.
Over quite a number of years, I developed a special course Physics Odyssey for
non-science students...a four-part journey of exploration through the major
discoveries of physics, astrophysics and cosmology.
The first part of the journey took a look at Nature around us -- the phenomena we
are already familiar with: thunder and lightning, rainbows, the freezing
of water, the blue of the sky. The explanation for these natural
phenomena led directly to the second part which dealt with atoms and
their properties (you can't really explain natural phenomena properly without
them!). The third part went one step further into the subatomic world
of nuclei and quarks. Finally, stars were examined in a new light
-- the battleground of crushing gravity and the outburst of nuclear fusion.
Galaxies likewise came under our scrutiny, captured as they are in the
web of expanding spacetime.
The voyage was not an easy one. But students who embarked
on it, I'm glad to say, found it to be an enriching and rewarding experience!