A Metacognitive Moment

We’re beyond the halfway point in most classes, and it may be a good time to take just a (metacognitive) moment to review progress and map the road ahead.

In my physics class, I ask students each day as part of their class preparation to attempt an explanation of a real or simulated physics result. The question is based on material to which they’ve just had their first exposure, by reading or video lecture. It’s challenging, and initially not well liked. But it’s definitely something at which students improve with practice. They become not only more willing to “guess,” but they begin to support their answers with evidence, independent research and/or mathematical analysis far more often.

When I recently told my students that I had begun seeing that progress, a number of them spontaneously reflected and then shared agreement that this was getting more comfortable. It’s easy to lose track, in mid-semester, of how far you’ve come already. And it can be highly motivating to students when they see progress. In a similar way, looking backward momentarily can sometimes help put what remains in perspective.

As a physics student, when I first learned about rotational motion, I missed the idea that every rotational quantity had a linear analog. I struggled mightily as I tried to learn rotational kinematics in about a week, and the pace seemed completely unreasonable to me given that we’d spent about seven weeks learning the same concepts for linear motion.

This week, as I teach the same material, I explicitly connect each new rotational quantity back to the linear one. This seems to help students not only absorb the new material but reinforces the old and makes the pace more reasonable. A look backward could be an open-ended reflection on progress, or an explicit challenge to make comparisons to, connections with, or predictions about what’s coming. It could be done as a formal assignment, an in-class exercise, as a “minute paper” reflection near the end of a class or through a Canvas survey or quiz.

If you’re looking for other instructional strategies (and don’t want to wait for next week), stop into or contact the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.

by Mike Meyer, CTL Director

New Funding

Raymond Shaw

Raymond Shaw (Physics/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a research and development project that has received a $150,931 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).



Will Cantrellimage64675-pers

Will Cantrell (Physics) and Claudio Mazzoleni (Physics) are Co-PIs on the project, “An Investigation of the Suitability of a Laboratory Cloud Chamber for Optical Radiative Transfer Measurements.”


This is the first year of a two-year project potentially totaling $316,374.

Jaszczak presented at Denver Mineral and Gem Show

image144299-persJohn Jaszczak (Physics and adjunct curator of the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum) presented an invited lecture at the Denver Mineral and Gem Show (Sept. 16-18).

Jaszczak presented “Mineralogical Miracles From Merelani, Tanzania,” and brought an exhibit of faceted fluorite gemstones from the museum’s collection that were donated to the museum by the late Harold Dibble.

Read more at Tech Today.

New Funding in Physics

Claudio Mazzoleni (Physics/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a research and development project that has received $400,321 from the National Science Foundation.

Jacek Borysow (Physics), Raymond Shaw (Physics), Will Cantrell (Physics) and David Ciochetto (Physics) are co-PIs of the project, “MRI: Development of a Water Vapor and Temperature Mapping System to Study Cloud-Turbulence Interactions in the MTU PI-Chamber.”
This is the first year of a three-year project.

Jae Yong Suh article in Applied Materials and Interfaces Journal

no spine minimum. full size. Editor: Jon JEM: Esther RTP: Bryan Nolte TOC imageImages from “Interfacial Mode Interactions of Surface Plasmon Polaritons on Gold Nanodome Films” co-authored by Jae Yong Suh (Physics) appeared on the August cover of Applied Materials and Interfaces.

The article describes a method to create centimeter-scale lattices of gold nanodomes in order to study their optical properties.

Read more at Tech Today

NSF Grant for Petra Huentemeyer

image64665-persPetra Huentemeyer (Physics/EPPSI) received a $170,000 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Huentemeyer is the principal investigator for “Investigating Large Scale Structures and Galactic Plane Morphologies at TeV Energies with the HAWC Observatory.”

This is the first year of a three-year project potentially totalling $510,000.

From Tech Today

Master Student Andrea Baccarini describes his research work in the Azores

AndreaAndrea Baccarini is an Italian master student who graduated in Physics at the University of Trento in 2016. Andrea performed field research at the Pico Mountain Observatory in the Azores in collaboration with MTU faculty members. Recently, he described his field experience in the MTU “Unscripted: Science and Research” blog as a guest writer with an entry titled “On Top of the World“.