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Activities

Small Group Activity

60 min.

Multivariable Pictionary
Students draw the 3D graphs of equations using three variables. They make choices for drawing a stack of curves in parallel planes and a curve in a perpendicular plane (e.g. substituting in values for \(x\), \(y\), or \(z\). )

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Working with Representations on the Ring
This activity acts as a reintroduction to doing quantum calculations while also introducing the matrix representation on the ring, allowing students to discover how to index and form a column vector representing the given quantum state. In addition, this activity introduces degenerate measurements on the quantum ring and examines the state after measuring both degenerate and non-degenerate eigenvalues for the state.
Find the total differential of the following functions:
  1. \(y=3u^2 + 4\cos 3v\)
  2. \(y=3uv\)
  3. \(y=3u^2\cos wv\)
  4. \(y=u\cos(3v^2-2)\)
  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving course(s)
Consider an ideal gas of \(N\) particles, each of mass \(M\), confined to a one-dimensional line of length \(L\). The particles have spin zero (so you can ignore spin) and do not interact with one another. Find the entropy at temperature \(T\). You may assume that the temperature is high enough that \(k_B T\) is much greater than the ground state energy of one particle.
  1. \(\left\langle {\Psi}\middle|{\Psi}\right\rangle =1\) Identify and discuss the dimensions of \(\left|{\Psi}\right\rangle \).
  2. For a spin \(\frac{1}{2}\) system, \(\left\langle {\Psi}\middle|{+}\right\rangle \left\langle {+}\middle|{\Psi}\right\rangle + \left\langle {\Psi}\middle|{-}\right\rangle \left\langle {-}\middle|{\Psi}\right\rangle =1\). Identify and discuss the dimensions of \(\left|{+}\right\rangle \) and \(\left|{-}\right\rangle \).
  3. In the position basis \(\int \left\langle {\Psi}\middle|{x}\right\rangle \left\langle {x}\middle|{\Psi}\right\rangle dx = 1\). Identify and discuss the dimesions of \(\left|{x}\right\rangle \).

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Change of Variables

Consider the region \(D\) in the \(xy\)-plane shown below, which is bounded by \[u=9 \qquad u=36 \qquad v=1 \qquad v=4\] where \[u=xy \qquad v={y\over x}\] If you want to determine \(x\) and \(y\) as functions of \(u\) and \(v\), consider \(uv\) and \(u/v\).


  • List as many methods as you can think of for finding the area of the given region.

    It is enough to refer to the methods by name or describe them briefly.

  • For at least 3 of these methods, give explicitly the formulas you would use to find the area.

    You must put limits on your integrals, but you do not need to evaluate them.

  • Using any 2 of these methods, find the area.

    One of these should be a method we have learned recently.

  • Now consider the following integral over the same region \(D\):

    \(\int\!\!\int_D {y\over x} \>\>dA\)

  • Which of the above methods can you use to do this integral?
  • Do the integral.

Main ideas

  • There are many ways to solve this problem!
  • Using Jacobians (and inverse Jacobians)

Prerequisites

  • Surface integrals
  • Jacobians
  • Green's/Stokes' Theorem

Warmup

Perhaps a discussion of single and double integral techniques for solving this problem.

Props

  • whiteboards and pens

Wrapup

This is a good conclusion to the course, as it reviews many integration techniques. We emphasize that (2-dimensional) change-of-variable problems are a special case of surface integrals.

Here are some of the methods one could use to do these integrals:

  • change of variables (at least 2 ways)
  • Area Corollary to Green's Theorem (at least 2 ways)
  • ordinary single integral (at least 2 ways)
  • ordinary double integral (at least 2 ways)
  • surface integral


Details

In the Classroom

  • Some students will want to simply use Jacobian formulas; encourage such students to try to solve this problem both by computing \(\frac{\partial(x,y)}{\partial(u,v)}\) and by computing \(\frac{\partial(u,v)}{\partial(x,y)}\).
  • Other students will want to work directly with \(d\boldsymbol{\vec{r}}_1\) and \(d\boldsymbol{\vec{r}}_2\). This works fine if one first solves for \(x\) and \(y\) in terms of \(u\) and \(v\).
  • Students who compute \(d\boldsymbol{\vec{r}}_1\) and \(d\boldsymbol{\vec{r}}_2\) directly can easily get confused, since they may try to eliminate \(x\) or \(y\), rather than \(u\) or \(v\).

    Along the curve \(v=\hbox{constant}\), one has \(dy=v\,dx\), so that \(d\boldsymbol{\vec{r}}_1 = dx\,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} + dy\,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}} = (\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} + v\,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}})\,dx\), which some students will want to write in terms of \(x\) alone. But one needs to express this in terms of \(du\)! This can be done using \(du = x\,dy + y\,dx = x (v\,dx) + y\,dx = 2y\,dx\), so that \(d\boldsymbol{\vec{r}}_1 = (\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} + v\,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}) \,\frac{du}{2y}\). A similar argument leads to \(d\boldsymbol{\vec{r}}_2 = (-\frac{1}{v}\,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}}+\boldsymbol{\hat{y}})\,\frac{x\,dv}{2}\) for \(u=\hbox{constant}\), so that \(d\boldsymbol{\vec{S}} = d\boldsymbol{\vec{r}}_1\times d\boldsymbol{\vec{r}}_2 = \boldsymbol{\hat{z}} \,\frac{x}{2y}\,du\,dv = \boldsymbol{\hat{z}} \,{du\,dv\over2v}\). This calculation can be done without solving for \(x\) and \(y\), provided one recognizes \(v\) in the penultimate expression.

    Emphasize that one must choose parameters, both on the region, and on each curve, and that \(u\) and \(v\) are chosen to make the limits easy.

  • Take time before the activity to gauge students' recollection of single variable techniques and the Jacobian. After the activity, be sure to set up more than one approach. People will be fine after the first couple of steps but shouldn't leave class feeling stuck.

Subsidiary ideas

  • Review of Green's Theorem
  • Review of single integral techniques
  • Review of double integral techniques

Enrichment

  • Discuss the 3-dimensional case, perhaps relating it to volume integrals.
  • Found in: Vector Calculus II course(s)

The following are 3 different representations for the \(\textbf{same}\) state on a quantum ring for \(r_0=1\) \begin{equation} \left|{\Phi_a}\right\rangle = i\sqrt{\frac{ 2}{12}}\left|{3}\right\rangle - \sqrt{\frac{ 1}{12}}\left|{1}\right\rangle +\sqrt{\frac{ 3}{12}}e^{i\frac{\pi}{4}}\left|{0}\right\rangle -i\sqrt{\frac{ 2}{ 12}}\left|{-1}\right\rangle +\sqrt{\frac{ 4}{12}}\left|{-3}\right\rangle \end{equation} \begin{equation} \left| \Phi_b\right\rangle \doteq \left( \begin{matrix} \vdots \\ i\sqrt{\frac{ 2}{12}}\\ 0 \\ -\sqrt{\frac{ 1}{12}} \\ \sqrt{\frac{ 3}{12}}e^{i\frac{\pi}{4}} \\ -i\sqrt{\frac{ 2}{12}}\\ 0 \\ \sqrt{\frac{4}{12} }\\ \vdots \end{matrix}\right) \begin{matrix} \leftarrow m=0 \end{matrix} \end{equation} \begin{equation} \Phi_c(\phi) \doteq \sqrt{\frac{1}{24 \pi}} \left( i\sqrt{2}e^{i 3 \phi} -e^{i\phi} +\sqrt{3}e^{i\frac{\pi}{4}} -i \sqrt{2} e^{-i\phi} + \sqrt{4}e^{-i 3 \phi} \right) \end{equation}

  1. With each representation of the state given above, explicitly calculate the probability that \(L_z=-1\hbar\). Then, calculate all other non-zero probabilities for values of \(L_z\) with a method/representation of your choice.
  2. Explain how you could be sure you calculated all of the non-zero probabilities.
  3. If you measured the \(z\)-component of angular momentum to be \(3\hbar\), what would the state of the particle be immediately after the measurement is made?
  4. With each representation of the state given above, explicitly calculate the probability that \(E=\frac{9}{2}\frac{\hbar^2}{I}\). Then, calculate all other non-zero probabilities for values of \(E\) with a method of your choice.
  5. If you measured the energy of the state to be \(\frac{9}{2}\frac{\hbar^2}{I}\), what would the state of the particle be immediately after the measurement is made?

  • Found in: Central Forces course(s)
Fill out the table below that asks you to do several simple complex number calculations in rectangular, polar, and exponential representations.

Small Group Activity

120 min.

Representations of the Infinite Square Well

Representations of the Infinite Square Well

Consider three particles of mass \(m\) which are each in an infinite square well potential at \(0<x<L\).

The energy eigenstates of the infinite square well are:

\[ E_n(x) = \sqrt{\frac{2}{L}}\sin{\left(\frac{n \pi x}{L}\right)}\]

with energies \(E_n = \frac{n^2 \pi^2 \hbar^2}{2mL^2}\)

The particles are initially in the states, respectively: \begin{eqnarray*} |\psi_a(0)\rangle &=& A \Big[\left|{E_1}\right\rangle + 2i \left|{E_4}\right\rangle - 3\left|{E_{10}}\right\rangle \Big]\\[6pt] \psi_b(x,0) &=& B \left[i \sqrt{\frac{2}{L}}\sin{\left(\frac{\pi x}{L}\right)} + i \sqrt{\frac{8}{L}}\sin{\left(\frac{4\pi x}{L}\right)} - \sqrt{\frac{18}{L}}\sin{\left(\frac{10\pi x}{L}\right)} \right]\\[6pt] \psi_c(x,0) &=& C x(x-L) \end{eqnarray*}

For each particle:

  1. Determine the value of the normalization constant.
  2. At \(t=0\), what is the probability of measuring the energy of the particle to be \(\frac{8\pi^2\hbar^2}{mL^2}\)?
  3. Find the state of the particle at a later time \(t\).
  4. What is the probability of measuring the energy of the particle to be the same value \(\frac{8\pi^2\hbar^2}{mL^2}\) at a later time \(t\)?
  5. What is the probability of finding the particle to be in the left half of the well?

Student Conversations

  1. Help students recognize that particle \(a\) and particle \(b\) are in the same state.
  2. For normalization, emphasize that you must calculate the square of the norm of the state BEFORE you integrate.
  3. The energy value given is simplified - students need to recognize that this energy corresponds to \(n=4\).
  4. Time evolving particle \(c\) is brutal for the students. Reassure students that they have to leave it as a sum. Setting up the integral is the point here. For time expediancy, encourage students to leave the integral to be evaluated later.
  5. For Hamiltonian's that don't don't depend on time, the probabilities of measuring energies are time independent.
  6. Emphasize to students that you can't calculate the probability of finding a particle in a region in Dirac notation.
  • Found in: Quantum Fundamentals course(s) Found in: Warm-Up sequence(s)
Students calculate probabilities for a particle on a ring using three different notations: Dirac bra-ket, matrix, and wave function. After calculating the angular momentum and energy measurement probabilities, students compare their calculation methods for notation.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Wavefunctions on a Quantum Ring
This activity lets students explore translating a wavefunction that isn't obviously made up of eigenstates at first glance into ket and matrix form. Then students explore wave functions, probabilities in a region, expectation values, and what wavefunctions can tell you about measurements of \(L_z\).

Small White Board Question

5 min.

Representations of Vectors
Students each recall a representation of vectors that they have seen before and record it on an individual whiteboard. The instructor uses these responses to generate a whole class discussion that compares and contrasts the features of the representations. If appropriate for the class, the instructor introduces bra/ket notation as a new, but valuable representation.
  1. Find the chemical potential of an ideal monatomic gas in two dimensions, with \(N\) atoms confined to a square of area \(A=L^2\). The spin is zero.

  2. Find an expression for the energy \(U\) of the gas.

  3. Find an expression for the entropy \(\sigma\). The temperature is \(kT\).

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electric Field of Two Charged Plates
  • Students need to understand that the surface represents the electric potential in the center of a parallel plate capacitor. Try doing the activity Electric Potential of Two Charged Plates before this activity.
  • Students should know that
    1. objects with like charge repel and opposite charge attract,
    2. object tend to move toward lower energy configurations
    3. The potential energy of a charged particle is related to its charge: \(U=qV\)
    4. The force on a charged particle is related to its charge: \(\vec{F}=q\vec{E}\)
  1. Consider a system that may be unoccupied with energy zero, or occupied by one particle in either of two states, one of energy zero and one of energy \(\varepsilon\). Find the Gibbs sum for this system is in terms of the activity \(\lambda\equiv e^{\beta\mu}\). Note that the system can hold a maximum of one particle.

  2. Solve for the thermal average occupancy of the system in terms of \(\lambda\).

  3. Show that the thermal average occupancy of the state at energy \(\varepsilon\) is \begin{align} \langle N(\varepsilon)\rangle = \frac{\lambda e^{-\frac{\varepsilon}{kT}}}{\mathcal{Z}} \end{align}

  4. Find an expression for the thermal average energy of the system.

  5. Allow the possibility that the orbitals at \(0\) and at \(\varepsilon\) may each be occupied each by one particle at the same time; Show that \begin{align} \mathcal{Z} &= 1 + \lambda + \lambda e^{-\frac{\varepsilon}{kT}} + \lambda^2 e^{-\frac{\varepsilon}{kT}} \\ &= (1+\lambda)\left(1+e^{-\frac{\varepsilon}{kT}}\right) \end{align} Because \(\mathcal{Z}\) can be factored as shown, we have in effect two independent systems.

(Straightforward) Purpose: Discover that a system of two masses can be a central force system even when they are not interacting at all. Practice with center-of-mass coordinates.

Consider two particles of equal mass \(m\). The forces on the particles are \(\vec F_1=0\) and \(\vec F_2=F_0\hat{x}\). If the particles are initially at rest at the origin, find the position, velocity, and acceleration of the center of mass as functions of time. Solve this problem in two ways,

  • with theorems about the center of mass motion,
  • without theorems about the center of mass motion.
  • Write a short description comparing the two solutions.

  • Found in: Central Forces course(s)
Students, working in pairs, represent two component complex vectors with their left arms. Through a short series of instructor led prompts, students move their left arms to show how various linear transformations affect each complex component.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Electric Potential of Two Charged Plates
Students examine a plastic "surface" graph of the electric potential due to two charged plates (near the center of the plates) and explore the properties of the electric potential.
  1. Find an expression for the free energy as a function of \(T\) of a system with two states, one at energy 0 and one at energy \(\varepsilon\).

  2. From the free energy, find expressions for the internal energy \(U\) and entropy \(S\) of the system.

  3. Plot the entropy versus \(T\). Explain its asymptotic behavior as the temperature becomes high.

  4. Plot the \(S(T)\) versus \(U(T)\). Explain the maximum value of the energy \(U\).

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Covariation in Thermal Systems
Students consider how changing the volume of a system changes the internal energy of the system. Students use plastic graph models to explore these functions.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Murder Mystery Method
For each of the following vector fields, find a potential function if one exists, or argue that none exists.
  • \(\boldsymbol{\vec{F}} = (3x^2 + \tan y)\,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} + (3y^2 + x\sec^2 y) \,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}\)
  • \(\boldsymbol{\vec{G}} = y\,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} - x\,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}\)
  • \(\boldsymbol{\vec{H}} = (2xy + y^2 \sin z) \,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} + (x^2 + z + 2xy\sin z) \,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}} + (y + z + xy^2 \cos z) \,\boldsymbol{\hat{z}}\)
  • \(\boldsymbol{\vec{K}} = yz \,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}} + xz \,\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}\)

Main ideas

  • Finding potential functions.

Students love this activity. Some groups will finish in 10 minutes or less; few will require as much as 30 minutes. *

Prerequisites

  • Fundamental Theorem for line integrals
  • The Murder Mystery Method

Warmup

none

Props

  • whiteboards and pens

Wrapup

  • Revisit integrating conservative vector fields along various paths, including reversing the orientation and integrating around closed paths.


Details

In the Classroom

  • We recommend having the students work in groups of 2 on this activity, and not having them turn anything in.
  • Most students will treat the last example as 2-dimensional, giving the answer \(xyz\). Ask these students to check their work by taking the gradient; most will include a \(\boldsymbol{\hat{z}}\) term. Let them think this through. The correct answer of course depends on whether one assumes that \(z\) is constant; we have deliberately left this ambiguous.
  • It is good and proper that students want to add together multivariable terms. Keep returning to the gradient, something they know well. It is better to discover the guidelines themselves.

Subsidiary ideas

  • 3-d vector fields do not necessarily have a \(\boldsymbol{\hat{z}}\)-component!

Homework

A challenging question to ponder is why a surface fails to exist for nonconservative fields. Using an example such as \(y\,\boldsymbol{\hat{x}}+\boldsymbol{\hat{y}}\), prompt students to plot the field and examine its magnitude at various locations. Suggest piecing together level sets. There is serious geometry lurking that entails smoothness. Wrestling with this is healthy.

Essay questions

Write 3-5 sentences describing the connection between derivatives and integrals in the single-variable case. In other words, what is the one-dimensional version of MMM? Emphasize that much of vector calculus is generalizing concepts from single-variable theory.

Enrichment

  • The derivative check for conservative vector fields can be described using the same type of diagrams as used in the Murder Mystery Method; this is just moving down the diagram (via differentiation) from the row containing the components of the vector field, rather than moving up (via integration). We believe this should not be mentioned until after this lab.

    When done in 3-d, this makes a nice introduction to curl --- which however is not needed until one is ready to do Stokes' Theorem. We would therefore recommend delaying this entire discussion, including the 2-d case, until then.

  • Work out the Murder Mystery Method using polar basis vectors, by reversing the process of taking the gradient in this basis.
  • Revisit the example in the Ampère's Law lab, using the Fundamental Theorem to explain the results. This can be done without reference to a basis, but it is worth computing \(\boldsymbol{\vec\nabla}\phi\) in a polar basis.

One way to write volume charge densities without using piecewise functions is to use step \((\Theta)\) or \(\delta\) functions. Consider a spherical shell with charge density \[\rho (\vec{r})=\alpha3e^{(k r)^3} \]

between the inner radius \(a\) and the outer radius \(b\). The charge density is zero everywhere else.

  1. (2 pts) What are the dimensions of the constants \(\alpha\) and \(k\)?
  2. (2 pts) By hand, sketch a graph the charge density as a function of \(r\) for \(\alpha > 0\) and \(k>0\) .
  3. (2 pts) Use step functions to write this charge density as a single function valid everywhere in space.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Operators & Functions
Students are asked to:
  • Test to see if one of the given functions is an eigenfunction of the given operator
  • See if they can write the functions that are found not to be eigenfunctions as a linear combination of eigenfunctions.
  • Found in: Quantum Fundamentals course(s)
Using either this Geogebra applet or this Mathematica notebook, explore the wave functions on a ring. (Note: The Geogebra applet may be a little easier to use and understand and is accessible if you don't have access to Mathematica, but it is more limited in the wave functions that you can represent. Also, the animation is pretty jumpy in some browsers, especially Firefox. Imagine that the motion is smooth.)
  1. Look at graphs of the following states \begin{align} \Phi_1(\phi)&=\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}(\left|{2}\right\rangle +\left|{-2}\right\rangle )\\ \Phi_2(\phi)&=\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}(\left|{2}\right\rangle -\left|{-2}\right\rangle )\\ \Phi_3(\phi)&=\frac{1}{\sqrt{2}}(\left|{2}\right\rangle +i\left|{-2}\right\rangle ) \end{align} Write a short description of how these states differ from each other.
  2. Find a state for which the probability density does not depend on time. Write the state in both ket and wave function notation. These are called stationary states. Generalize your result to give a characterization of the set of all possible states that are stationary states.
  3. Find a state that is right-moving. Write the state in both ket and wave function notation. Generalize your result to give a characterization of the set of all possible states that are right-moving.
  4. Find a state that is a standing wave. Write the state in both ket and wave function notation. Generalize your result to give a characterization of the set of all possible states that are standing waves.
  • Found in: Central Forces course(s)

Small White Board Question

5 min.

Adding Functions Pointwise
Overview paragraph here.
  • Found in: Static Fields course(s)
Students move their left arm in a circle to trace out the complex plane (Argand diagram). They then explore the rectangular and exponential representations of complex numbers by using their left arm to show given complex numbers on the complex plane. Finally they enact multiplication of complex numbers in exponential form and complex conjugation.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Time Evolution of a Spin-1/2 System
In this small group activity, students solve for the time dependence of two quantum spin 1/2 particles under the influence of a Hamiltonian. Students determine, given a Hamiltonian, which states are stationary and under what circumstances measurement probabilities do change with time.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Paramagnet (multiple solutions)
  • Students evaluate two given partial derivatives from a system of equations.
  • Students learn/review generalized Leibniz notation.
  • Students may find it helpful to use a chain rule diagram.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Mass is not Conserved

Groups are asked to analyze the following standard problem:

Two identical lumps of clay of (rest) mass m collide head on, with each moving at 3/5 the speed of light. What is the mass of the resulting lump of clay?

Kinesthetic

10 min.

Spin 1/2 with Arms
Students, working in pairs, use their left arms to represent each component in a two-state quantum spin 1/2 system. Reinforces the idea that quantum states are complex valued vectors. Students make connections between Dirac, matrix, and Arms representation.

Whole Class Activity

10 min.

Pineapples and Pumpkins

There are two versions of this activity:

As a whole class activity, the instructor cuts a pumpkin in order to produce a small volume element \(d\tau\), interspersing their work with a sequence of small whiteboard questions. This version of the activity is described here.

As a small group activity, students are given pineapple rounds and pumpkin wedges to explore area and volume elements in cylindrical and spherical coordinate systems. In this version of the activity, the fruit is distributed to the students with appropriate children's pumpkin cutting equipment, as part of activities Vector Differential--Curvilinear, Scalar Surface and Volume Elements, or Vector Surface and Volume Elements.

  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Surfaces/Bridge Workshop, Problem-Solving course(s) Found in: Integration Sequence sequence(s)
Students use Tinker Toys to represent each component in a two-state quantum spin system in all three standard bases (\(x\), \(y\), and \(z\)). Through a short series of instructor-led prompts, students explore the difference between overall phase (which does NOT change the state of the system) and relative phase (which does change the state of the system). This activity is optional in the Arms Sequence Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States.
Students use their arms to act out two spin-1/2 quantum states and their inner product.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Which Way is North?
Students construct two different rectangular coordinate systems and corresponding vector bases, then compare computations done with each.

Kinesthetic

30 min.

Inner Products with Arms
Students perform an inner product between two spin states with the arms representation.

Lecture

120 min.

Ideal Gas
These notes from week 6 of https://paradigms.oregonstate.edu/courses/ph441 cover the ideal gas from a grand canonical standpoint starting with the solutions to a particle in a three-dimensional box. They include a number of small group activities.

Small Group Activity

5 min.

Calculating a Total Differential
Students are placed into small groups and asked to calculate the total differential of a function of two variables, each of which is in turn expressed in terms of two other variables.

Small White Board Question

10 min.

Partial Derivatives from a Contour Map
In this sequence of small whiteboard questions, students are shown the contour graph of a function of two variables and asked to find the derivative. They discover that, without a function to differentiate, they must instead think of the derivative as a ratio of small changes. This requires them to pick two nearby points. Which two?
  • Found in: AIMS Maxwell, Static Fields, Surfaces/Bridge Workshop, Problem-Solving course(s) Found in: Gradient Sequence sequence(s)

Small Group Activity

10 min.

Generalized Leibniz Notation
This short small group activity introduces students to the Leibniz notation used for partial derivatives in thermodynamics, in which the variables being held constant are given explicitly. Students are guided to associate variables to their proper categories.
  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Surfaces/Bridge Workshop, Problem-Solving course(s)

Small Group Activity

60 min.

Visualizing Plane Waves

Each small group of 3-4 students is given a white board or piece of paper with a square grid of points on it.

Each group is given a different two-dimensional vector \(\vec{k}\) and is asked to calculate the value of \(\vec{k} \cdot \vec {r}\) for each point on the grid and to draw the set of points with constant value of \(\vec{k} \cdot \vec{r}\) using rainbow colors to indicate increasing value.

Small Group Activity

10 min.

Guess the Fourier Series from a Graph
The students are shown the graph of a function that is a superposition of three harmonic functions and asked to guess the harmonic terms of the Fourier series. Students then use prewritten Sage code to verify the coefficients from their guess. The program allows the students to enter functions of their own choice as well as the one that is preset.
  • Found in: Oscillations and Waves, None course(s)

Computational Activity

120 min.

Sinusoidal basis set
Students compute inner products to expand a wave function in a sinusoidal basis set. This activity introduces the inner product for wave functions, and the idea of approximating a wave function using a finite set of basis functions.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

DELETE Navigating a Hill
In this small group activity, students determine various aspects of local points on an elliptic hill which is a function of two variables. The gradient is emphasized as a local quantity which points in the direction of greatest change at a point in the scalar field.
  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell course(s)

Small Group Activity

30 min.

The Hill
In this small group activity, students determine various aspects of local points on an elliptic hill which is a function of two variables. The gradient is emphasized as a local quantity which points in the direction of greatest change at a point in the scalar field.
  • Gradient
    Found in: Vector Calculus II, Vector Calculus I, Surfaces/Bridge Workshop course(s) Found in: Gradient Sequence sequence(s)

Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Using Technology to Visualize Potentials
Begin by prompting the students to brainstorm different ways to represent a three dimensional scalar field on a 2-D surface (like their paper or a whiteboard). The students use a pre-made Sage code or a Mathematica worksheet to visualize the electrostatic potential of several distributions of charges. The computer algebra systems demonstrate several different ways of plotting the potential.

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Chain Rule Measurement
This small group activity using surfaces combines practice with the multivariable chain rule while emphasizing numerical representations of derivatives. Students work in small groups to measure partial derivatives in both rectangular and polar coordinates, then verify their results using the chain rule. The whole class wrap-up discussion emphasizes the relationship between a directional derivative in the \(r\)-direction and derivatives in \(x\)- and \(y\)-directions using the chain rule.
  • Found in: Vector Calculus I course(s)

Small Group Activity

10 min.

Modeling Nonuniform Density
In this small group activity, students calculate a (linear) function to represent the charge density on a one-dimensional rod from a description of the charge density in words.
  • Found in: AIMS Maxwell, Static Fields, Surfaces/Bridge Workshop, Problem-Solving course(s)
Students work in small groups to use the superposition principle \[V(\vec{r}) = \frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\sum_i \frac{q_i}{\vert\vec{r}-\vec{r}_i\vert}\] to find the electrostatic potential \(V\) everywhere in space due to a pair of charges (either identical charges or a dipole). Different groups are assigned different arrangements of charges and different regions of space to consider: either on the axis of the charges or in the plane equidistant from the two charges, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Each group is asked to find a power series expansion for the electrostatic potential, valid in their group's assigned region of space. The whole class wrap-up discussion then compares and contrasts the results and discuss the symmetries of the two cases.

Small Group Activity

5 min.

Events on Spacetime Diagrams
Students practice identifying whether events on spacetime diagrams are simultaneous, colocated, or neither for different observers. Then students decide which of two events occurs first in two different reference frames.
Students see probability density for eigenstates and linear combinations of eigenstates for a particle on a ring. The three visual representations: standard position vs probability density plot, a ring with colormapping, and cylindrical plot with height and colormapping, are also animated to visualize time-evolution.