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McMurry Faculty, Students Present at Science Conference

ABILENE, Texas –A group of McMurry University physics faculty (Dr. Tikhon Bykov, Dr. Wayne Keith and Dr. Tim Renfro) and physics students (Brittany Houghton, Jared Land, Sarah Nason, and Daniel Zipprian), as well as physics alumnus Jeremiah Land have traveled to the Texas Section of American Physical Society (APS), American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and Society of Physics Students (SPS) joint meeting in Angelo State University on March 23-24 at San Angelo TX.

The Texas section of these professional organizations is one of the largest and one of the most active sections in the country. The section usually meets twice a year and McMurry Physics Department makes every effort to attend these meetings and give our students an opportunity to meet their peers from other institutions, get familiar with current research in physics and learn about various career opportunities. Several talks at this particular meeting were devoted to the subject of what one can do with a physics degree.

All McMurry students participating in this meeting presented the posters on various research and class project they have performed during the last year.

One of the audience favorites was the poster presented by physics freshmen Brittany Houghton and Sarah Nason on the project they have completed last fall in “University Physics I” course. They have studied compression of the cake. The class came up with this idea after a Young’s modulus experiment with stretching wire was performed. A question was raised of what would happen if we compressed something else? Students created their own Young’s modulus experiment, but in a more entertaining way. The experiment involved measuring the height of a cake before and after a weight has been applied to the cake. The compression coefficient was

determined then and conclusions were made what type of the cake is more compressible.

Based on this experiment, in collaboration with Dr. Renfro, Sarah and Brittany designed a lesson plan which can be used by high school teachers who want to teach the subject of Young’s modulus.

Jared Land and Jeremiah Land presented the poster on the project they have completed in collaboration with Sheharyar Khan as part of the “Electricity and Magnetism II” course they took with Dr. Bykov last year. In this work they have studied numerical solution of the boundary problem for 2D Laplace equation for electrostatic potential in given geometry. The objective was to numerically model the potential grid and the electric field of 2-dimensional capacitors of various configurations and compare them to the experimental results. The goal was accomplished by the implementation of finite difference Gauss-Seidel iteration method through the use of the C programming language.

Daniel Zipprian presented the poster on the subject of his senior research project “Construction of Hydroelectric Generator” which he has recently completed under supervision of Dr. Keith. The idea behind a hydroelectric generator is to convert kinetic energy of flow of water into electromagnetic energy. Electromagnetic induction occurs when the rotor is rotating around the stator resulting in electromotive force which causes appearance of electric current. The rotor designed by Daniel uses a brake router for the surface to hold the magnets. The system is vertical with the rotor as the highest part on the generator and the turbine at the bottom. The magnets are facing downwards with the magnetic field going in a vertical direction. The stator of the generator consists of the coils sitting on top of a metal ring that have the ability to rise or low to match the height of the brake router.

Finally, Dr. Renfro presented the poster created by his student Arthur Ross, who was not able to attend the conference. This work was done as part of the “Digital Electronics” course last fall. In that project the students created a Christmas light display that toggles the power of different strands of lights, according to what frequencies are played in a song, as an example of an analog to digital circuit. This was accomplished using a BA3830S IC six-band audio filter and six solid-state relays.

All student posters will be available on display at the physics bulletin board in the first floor south hallway of the Science Building starting Monday afternoon.

Also during the conference Dr. Bykov presented a talk entitled “Using peer review process for teaching introductory physics laboratory” In this talk Dr. Bykov described how a method very similar to professional peer review process has been incorporated into teaching of introductory physics laboratory in McMurry University. In this process students are asked to review anonymous copies of each other’s lab reports and determine whether or not these reports are suitable for publication in a scientific journal. This technique has become an essential part of the Modular Curriculum Approach (MCA) teaching model designed and adopted at McMurry for teaching of introductory physics sequence.