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Abstract Title: Exploring the Transition Between Quantum and Classical Physics Using Compelling Graphical Representations
Abstract: One physics BIG Idea is cognitive engagement of the transition from discrete to continuum, from quantum to classical physics.  Probability, statistics and entropy are also challenging curriculum components for students.  Some of the issues above are reflected in the mathematical processes of discrete Riemann summation morphing into the integration of continuous functions; e.g., normalization accomplished via integration over probability density.  To help students master these concepts, I developed and twice implemented in upper-level statistical mechanics a guided-inquiry in-class tutorial with assessment homework.  Students are assigned specific tasks prior to the scheduled in-class activity, using MATHEMATICA┬« (code provided) for calculations and distribution plots to display probabilities for 10 < N < 107 coin flips.  We will engage part of the activity in the graphical sequence intended to help students model an outcome state of overwhelming probability, in spite of decreasing probability as N increases.  Supported by NSF Grants: PHY-0406764, DRL-0633951, DUE-0817282.
Abstract Type: Targeted Poster
Targeted Session: Upper-division activities that foster "Thinking like a Physicist"

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Donald B. Mountcastle
University of Maine
Department of Physics and Astronomy
5709 Bennett Hall
Orono, ME 04469-5709
Phone: 207-581-1039
Fax: 207-581-3410