Undergraduate Physics Programs
[Supported by grant DUE-9952285 from the Educational Materials Development (EMD) track of the Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Lawrence University. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this web site or in the book produced with support from this grant are those of the author and not necessarily the views of the National Science Foundation.]
Department of Physics
Appleton, WI 54912
Despite the immense importance of computation in contemporary physics, systematic efforts to use computers in undergraduate instruction have focused on introductory courses. The physics program at Lawrence University, however, is an exception. Starting in the mid 1980's, the Department has introduced sophisticated computational techniques throughout its upper-level courses. Distinguishing features of the Lawrence approach include a focus on flexible, general purpose computational packages; application to theory and experiment; extensive use for preparing reports on technical subjects; distribution throughout the curriculum; and most important, introduction of computation early enough so that, subsequently, students use computers confidently and independently on their own initiative. The proposed project will convert the experience acquired and the extensive library of instructional materials developed over the years at Lawrence into a flexible publication to support efforts at other institutions to teach computation to undergraduate physics students. To achieve the desired flexibility, this project will create numerous modules, some generic and others more specific to particular platforms and/or applications programs. Working with commercial publishers, we will develop a convenient and effective mode of publication that will allow individual users to assemble particular selections from these modules into a text that is tailored to their specific circumstances. Week-long faculty workshops and site testing beyond Lawrence will help to refine the end product and contribute to its dissemination.