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Abstract Title: Sensemaking in special relativity: developing new intuitions
Abstract: Special relativity is both exciting and challenging in that it requires developing new intuitions about relativist situations. How can we help students make sense of special relativity when their intuitions are classical? This poster will discuss student sensemaking about special relativity in a sophomore-level course designed to explicitly teach and support physics sensemaking. The course particularly emphasizes two sensemaking strategies: visualization with spacetime diagrams and the development of "rules of thumb." Spacetime diagrams make clear the specific reference frames and events. These diagrams allow students to coordinate geometric and algebraic representations that can support each other. Rules of thumb, like "proper time is the shortest time," serve as footholds when solving problems in special relativity. We present an analysis of students' use of these strategies in their written solutions to homework problems.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation
Session Time: Poster Session III
Poster Number: C49
Contributed Paper Record: Contributed Paper Information
Contributed Paper Download: Download Contributed Paper

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Kelby T. Hahn
Oregon State University, College of Education
and Co-Presenter(s)
Dr. Paul J. Emigh, Oregon State University, Physics Department
Dr. Elizabeth Gire, Oregon State University, Physics Department

Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster: Download the Contributed Poster