Cool Star Lab Presents Work at 2016 Physics Education Research Conference

Mike Lopez, Isabela Rodrigues and Adam Burgasser presented their early analysis of an experimental Physics course at the 2016 Physics Education Research Conference in Sacramento, CA. This was the first PERC for all three researchers. In addition, former Cool Star Lab member Dianna Cowern was on hand for the overlapping American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) meeting presenting her work on the Physics Girl video series.

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Past and present Cool Star Lab members at the 2016 PERC; from left to right: Isabela Rodrigues, Dianna Cowern, Adam Burgasser and Mike Lopez.

The primary research presentations focused on analysis of an experiment conducted in Fall 2015 to implement Cooperative Problem Solving (CPS) in the large Physics 1A Introductory Mechanics course. The current course format, which is lecture-based, does not specifically build up students’ problem solving skills, skills that students often struggle with and which may benefit them more in their other majors and in their future careers. Inspired by work being done by Thomas Gredig at CSU Long Beach, I implemented a form of CPS as described in Heller & Heller (2010) as a flipped-format course, with online video lectures providing the primary instruction and class time primarily devoted to problem-solving skills and techniques.  To validate the model, Adam taught 9 sections of the CPS course with 1 (large) section of interactive lecture. The work presented at the PERC was a preliminary analysis of student outcomes.

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Beach Physics & Dianna Cowern Featured on Local Innovate 8 Program

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Dianna Cowern and the Beach Physics project were recently featured on the local CBS affiliate KFMB in San Diego as part of its Innovate 8 program. Innovate 8 is a collaboration between the San Diego County Office of Education and UC San Diego, and aims to inspire and engage K-12 students to excel in the fields of Science,Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through interactive, educational opportunities.

The 3-minute feature includes a preview of the Beach Physics Pop-up Science Lab with students from Albert Einstein Academy Middle School.  The Pop-up Lab has recently received funding through a grant awarded by the La Jolla Community Foundation.

The Innovate 8 feature can be viewed here: http://www.cbs8.com/category/155799/video-landing-page?clipId=10964959&autostart=true

Dianna Cowern & Beach Physics Awarded Funding by Inaugural La Jolla Community Foundation Grants Program

Dianna Cowern receiving the "big check" with Susan McClellan of the LJCF (left) and Lucille Schindler of the UCSD Development Office (right)

Dianna Cowern receiving the “big check” with Susan McClellan of the LJCF (left) and Lucille Schindler of the UCSD Development Office (right). Photo courtesy Carol Hobson

Beach Physics was one of four programs to be awarded funding by the La Jolla Community Foundation, in their inaugural Foundation Grants program.  Beach Physics Creative Director Dianna Cowern (aka “The Physics Girl”) received the $8300 grant – the largest awarded this year – at an awards ceremony at Madison Gallery.  The grant will support two projects in 2015 that aim to enrich science education for La Jolla students and will move Beach Physics from online lessons to live events:

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Dianna Cowern wins National Science Communication Award

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Cool Star Lab Outreach Coordinator Dianna Cowern took the top video prize at this year’s Flame Challenge, a national science communication contest run by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science headquartered at SUNY Stony Brook. Dianna was among hundreds of scientists who tackled the question “What is Color?”, using either video or written formats. Her video was judged as the best entry by over 27,000 11-year olds from around the world.  This is the third year of the Challenge; previous contests asked “What is a Flame?” and “What is Time?“.

Both Dianna and the winner of the written category Melanie Golob, received their awards from Alan Alda during an event at World Science Festival.  This event, hosted by Brian Greene, can be viewed here; the awards are announced toward the end.

Several news agencies reported Dianna’s win, including NBC News and io9, and UCSD profiled Dianna in This Week. You can see more of Dianna’s videos at her Physics Girl YouTube channel.

Congratulations Dianna!

 

 

Dianna Cowern

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Dianna Cowern is a popular science communicator who has previously served as the outreach coordinator for the Cool Star Lab and the UCSD Physics Department. Born and raised in Hawaii, Dianna earned Bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Computer Science from MIT, and conducted research in dark matter with Prof. Jocelyn Monroe and low-metallicity stars with Prof. Anna Frebel. She interned at General Electric as a Software Engineer designing mobile apps, before diving into to science outreach as an coordinator at UCSD. She is an award-winning science communicator, winning the 2014 Flame Challenge and the inaugural La Jolla Community Foundation award for Beach Physics. She has been featured locally for her outreach work, but is most famous for her extremely popular YouTube channel Physics Girl.