CUTF: Portals and Paradoxes in Physics 1

Hi all! My name is Eli and I’m a junior majoring in Physics and Mathematics. This semester I’m working with Dr. Tae Min Hong to incorporate fun topics from the internet in Physics 1 (PHYS 0174) assignments. In my high school and college physics 1 experiences, one of my struggles was the dullness of a lot of the problems – why am I calculating how far a cannon launches a projectile 10 times? The main goal of this fellowship is to get students interested in the homework problems while also challenging them.

With intrigue as my motivation, I’ve been writing homework problems that push for a more complex and interesting view of physics. For example, one projectile motion problem was based on the game Portal; rather than simply asking how high a ball would go when thrown, the problem had a portal that linked the Earth and moon and asked how the difference in gravity would effect an object. In the future, I have plans to incorporate gyroscopes, the paradoxical idea of sailing faster than wind, and perpetual motion machines into problem sets.

Students will benefit from questions such as these because they will be forced to deeply understand the equations taught in the course; otherwise, the problems will be very complicated. We offer as much assistance in office hours as needed, which students are highly motivated to attend. Thus, not only will students gain a strong ability in physics by completing the homework, but they will also become accustomed to attending office hours, a very crucial skill for many classes.

I currently do particle physics research on the Large Hadron Collider, tutor math, and UTA for physics. These three activities well encapsulate my professional goals: a combination of graduate school and teaching. I don’t have my future well planned out, but I’m planning on continuing my education. If I ultimately find that research doesn’t immensely interest me, my backup plan likely teaching physics or math. By participating in the CUTF, I hope to gain valuable experience in writing assignments, understanding student thinking, and teaching as a whole. I love physics and math, and learning how to get students excited about these subjects is something that will greatly benefit me in the future!

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