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Activities

Computer Simulation

30 min.

Visualization of Power Series Approximations
Students use prepared Sage code or a prepared Mathematica notebook to plot \(\sin\theta\) simultaneously with several terms of a power series expansion to judge how well the approximation fits. Students can alter the worksheet to change the number of terms in the expansion and even to change the function that is being considered. Students should have already calculated the coefficients for the power series expansion in a previous activity, Calculating Coefficients for a Power Series.
  • Taylor series power series approximation
    Found in: Theoretical Mechanics, Static Fields, Central Forces, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving, None course(s) Found in: Power Series Sequence (Mechanics), Power Series Sequence (E&M) sequence(s)

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Calculating Coefficients for a Power Series

This activity starts with a brief lecture introduction to power series and a short derivation of the formula for calculating the power series coefficients.

\[c_n={1\over n!}\, f^{(n)}(z_0)\]

Students use this formula to compute the power series coefficients for a \(\sin\theta\) (around both the origin and (if time allows) \(\frac{\pi}{6}\)). The meaning of these coefficients and the convergence behavior for each approximation is discussed in the whole-class wrap-up and in the follow-up activity: Visualization of Power Series Approximations.

  • Taylor Series Coefficents Power Series
    Found in: Theoretical Mechanics, AIMS Maxwell, Static Fields, Problem-Solving, None course(s) Found in: Power Series Sequence (Mechanics), Power Series Sequence (E&M) sequence(s)

Students work in small groups to use the superposition principle \[V(\vec{r}) =\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\int\frac{\rho(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert} \, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the electrostatic potential, \(V(\vec{r})\), everywhere in space, due to a ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(V(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

Small Group Activity

5 min.

Guess the Power Series
Overview paragraph here.
  • Found in: Static Fields, None course(s)
Use the formula for a Taylor series: \[f(z)=\sum_{n=0}^{\infty} \frac{1}{n!} \frac{d^n f(a)}{dz^n} (z-a)^n\] to find the series expansion for \(f(z)=\cos(kz)\) to second order around \(z=2\).
  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving, None course(s)
Use the formula for a Taylor series: \[f(z)=\sum_{n=0}^{\infty} \frac{1}{n!} \frac{d^n f(a)}{dz^n} (z-a)^n\] to find the series expansion for \(f(z)=e^{-kz}\) to second order around \(z=3\).
  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving, None course(s)

Look up and memorize the power series to fourth order for \(e^z\), \(\sin z\), \(\cos z\), \((1+z)^p\) and \(\ln(1+z)\). For what values of \(z\) do these series converge?

  • Found in: Static Fields, Central Forces, Problem-Solving course(s) Found in: Power Series Sequence (E&M) sequence(s)
Treat the ground state of a quantum particle-in-a-box as a periodic function.
  1. Set up the integrals for the Fourier series for this state.

  2. Which terms will have the largest coefficients? Explain briefly.

  3. Are there any coefficients that you know will be zero? Explain briefly.

  4. Using the technology of your choice or by hand, calculate the four largest coefficients. With screen shots or otherwise, show your work.

  5. Using the technology of your choice, plot the ground state and your approximation on the same axes.
  • Found in: Oscillations and Waves, None course(s)
Consider a collection of three charges arranged in a line along the \(z\)-axis: charges \(+Q\) at \(z=\pm D\) and charge \(-2Q\) at \(z=0\).
  1. Find the electrostatic potential at a point \(\vec{r}\) on the \(x\)-axis at a distance \(x\) from the center of the quadrupole.

  2. A series of charges arranged in this way is called a linear quadrupole. Why?

  • Found in: AIMS Maxwell, Static Fields, Problem-Solving course(s)

Problem

5 min.

Series Convergence

Recall that, if you take an infinite number of terms, the power series for \(\sin z\) and the function itself \(f(z)=\sin z\) are equivalent representations of the same thing for all real numbers \(z\), (in fact, for all complex numbers \(z\)). This is what it means for the power series to “converge” for all \(z\).

Not all power series converge for all values of the argument of the function. More commonly, a power series is only a valid, equivalent representation of a function for some more restricted values of \(z\), even if you keep an infinite number of terms. The technical name for this idea is convergence--the series only "converges" to the value of the function on some restricted domain, called the “interval” or “region of convergence.”

  1. Find the power series for the function \(f(z)=\frac{1}{1+z^2}\).
  2. Using the Geogebra applet from class as a model, or some other computer algebra system like Mathematica or Maple, plot both the original function and the power series to explore the convergence of this series. Where does your series for this new function converge? Can you tell anything about the region of convergence from the graphs of the various approximations?

    Print your plot and write a brief description (a sentence or two) of the region of convergence.

    You may need to include a lot of terms to see the effect of the region of convergence. You may also need to play with the values of \(z\) that you plot. Keep adding terms until you see a really strong effect!

Note: As a matter of professional ettiquette (or in some cases, as a legal copyright requirement), if you use or modify a computer program written by someone else, you should always acknowledge that fact briefly in whatever you write up. Say something like: “This calculation was based on a (name of software package) program titled (title) originally written by (author) copyright (copyright date).”

  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving course(s) Found in: Power Series Sequence (E&M) sequence(s)

Consider a collection of three charges arranged in a line along the \(z\)-axis: charges \(+Q\) at \(z=\pm D\) and charge \(-2Q\) at \(z=0\).

  1. Find the electrostatic potential at a point \(\vec{r}\) in the \(xy\)-plane at a distance \(s\) from the center of the quadrupole. The formula for the electrostatic potential \(V\) at a point \(\vec{r}\) due to a charge \(Q\) at the point \(\vec{r}'\) is given by: \[ V(\vec{r})=\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0} \frac{Q}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}'\vert} \] Electrostatic potentials satisfy the superposition principle.

  2. Assume \(s\gg D\). Find the first two non-zero terms of a power series expansion to the electrostatic potential you found in the first part of this problem.

  3. A series of charges arranged in this way is called a linear quadrupole. Why?

  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving course(s) Found in: Power Series Sequence (E&M) sequence(s)

Write (a good guess for) the following series using sigma \(\left(\sum\right)\) notation. (If you only know a few terms of a series, you don't know for sure how the series continues.)

  1. \[1 - 2\,\theta^2 + 4\,\theta^4 - 8\,\theta^6 +\,\dots\]

  2. \[\frac14 - \frac19 + \frac{1}{16} - \frac{1}{25}+\,\dots\]

  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving, None course(s) Found in: Power Series Sequence (E&M) sequence(s)

Write out the first four nonzero terms in the series:

  1. \[\sum\limits_{n=0}^\infty \frac{1}{n!}\]

  2. \[\sum\limits_{n=1}^\infty \frac{(-1)^n}{n!}\]
  3. \begin{equation} \sum\limits_{n=0}^\infty {(-2)^{n}\,\theta^{2n}} \end{equation}

  • Found in: Static Fields, AIMS Maxwell, Problem-Solving, None course(s) Found in: Power Series Sequence (E&M) sequence(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). This activity can be paired with activity 29 to find the limiting cases of the potential on the axes of symmetry.

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)
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

30 min.

Electric Field Due to a Ring of Charge

Students work in small groups to use Coulomb's Law \[\vec{E}(\vec{r}) =\frac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}\int\frac{\rho(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})\left(\vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\right)}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert^3} \, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the electric field, \(\vec{E}(\vec{r})\), everywhere in space, due to a ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(\vec{E}(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

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 work in small groups to use the Biot-Savart law \[\vec{B}(\vec{r}) =\frac{\mu_0}{4\pi}\int\frac{\vec{J}(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})\times \left(\vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\right)}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert^3} \, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the magnetic field, \(\vec{B}(\vec{r})\), due to a spinning ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(\vec{B}(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

Students work in small groups to use the superposition principle \[\vec{A}(\vec{r}) =\frac{\mu_0}{4\pi}\int\frac{\vec{J}(\vec{r}^{\,\prime})}{\vert \vec{r}-\vec{r}^{\,\prime}\vert}\, d\tau^{\prime}\] to find an integral expression for the magnetic vector potential, \(\vec{A}(\vec{r})\), due to a spinning ring of charge.

In an optional extension, students find a series expansion for \(\vec{A}(\vec{r})\) either on the axis or in the plane of the ring, for either small or large values of the relevant geometric variable. Add an extra half hour or more to the time estimate for the optional extension.

Students, working in pairs, use the Arms representations to represent states of spin 1/2 system. Through a short series of instructor-led prompts, students explore the difference between overall phase (which does NOT distinguish quantum states) and relative phase (which does distinguish quantum states).
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.

Kinesthetic

30 min.

The Distance Formula (Star Trek)
A short improvisational role-playing skit based on the Star Trek series in which students explore the definition and notation for position vectors, the importance of choosing an origin, and the geometric nature of the distance formula. \[\vert\vec{r}-\vec{r}^\prime\vert=\sqrt{(x-x^\prime)^2+(y-y^\prime)^2-(z-z^\prime)^2}\]