This activity provides an opportunity to contrast two methods of finding expectation values.
Generally, students in the class will be mixed in the approach they choose. By emphasizing this when you wrapup this activity, students have the opportunity to sort out for themselves the benefits of each method. Remind them of Energy and Angular Momentum for a Quantum Particle on a Ring where they made this sort of comparison explicitly.
- Carry out the explicit and messy differentiation and integration on the given state.
- Recast the initial state as a linear combination of eigenstates and carry out the much simpler calculations on these eigenstates.
Discuss some sense-making techniques for expectation value such as: units of the expectation value, what the expectation values tells you about the distribution of possible measurement values. Drawing a histogram of possible measurements vs probability might be a good way to illustrate these properties to students.