Computational Thinking & Coding in Physics

Computational thinking is the use of computers to simulate and study complex systems. It is widely recognized as an essential skill for the future workforce and success in STEM and is also a perfect tool for the physics classroom. The use of simple programs and simulations with modifiable code allows students to visually and graphically represent physical phenomena and solve problems that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do with a calculator, or paper and pencil. Incorporating coding in physics education gives classical physics a modern update.

In this workshop you’ll learn how to use computational thinking in your classroom and get an introduction to the powerful, new Pyret language, a browser-based, state-of-the-art teaching vehicle. You will also learn how to incorporate computational modeling in conjunction with other representational tools that are considered to be best practice by physics education research. The browser-based language Pyret is centered around the design of functions that model physical scenarios. We will incorporate best practices from computer science teaching through cooperative small-group and paired-student programming.

You’ll work through computational physics materials developed over the past 2 years. This will include the basics of programming in Pyret, learning how to write simple functions and modify existing code, with opportunities to generate programs on your own. We’ll cover physics topics such as (1) energy, (1) constant velocity, (2) uniform acceleration, (3) balanced forces inertia and force pairs, and (4) unbalanced forces Newton’s 2nd law. Although the materials had been developed for Physics First, they can be modified by teachers with older students.

No prior computer programming or physics experience is required; all are welcome!

July 29 – Aug 9, 2019

Led by​: Josh Rutberg and Emily Pontius, Eric Allatta

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