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Monday, Jun 17, 2019

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Zanesville Campus’ Popa encourages best practices in physics teaching


Gabriela Popa, associate professor of physics at Ohio University’s Zanesville Campus, attended the annual spring meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) Ohio Region Section recently along with her student Elloria Shaw. The event was held at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Popa (left) listens as Shaw summarizes her poster presentation prior to the open session where the students presented their work and the faculty in attendance engaged with the students by asking questions.

Popa (left) listens as Shaw summarizes her poster presentation prior to the open session where the students presented their work and the faculty in attendance engaged with the students by asking questions.

Shaw (left) talks with Snjezana Balaz, chair of the American Physical Society Ohio-Region Section, during the open session.

Shaw presented her poster presentation entitled “Investigating Wind Turbine Design” along with graduate students and other undergraduate students from around the region. Shaw (left) talks with Snjezana Balaz, chair of the American Physical Society Ohio-Region Section, during the open session. 

Shaw’s presentation, under the direction of Popa, focused on an empirical research study, where they tested various configurations of a wind turbine and identified which were most efficient. Each configuration varied in number of blades, size of blades, and wind speed. The findings indicated that for a certain wind speed, the three-blades configuration worked better. Also based on the number of blades, there is an optimal length for the blades.

Shaw presented her poster presentation entitled “Investigating Wind Turbine Design” along with graduate students and other undergraduate students from around the region. Shaw (left) talks with Snjezana Balaz, chair of the American Physical Society Ohio-Re

“The world runs on electricity: cell phones, lights, and the internet, and without electricity, life would grind to a halt,” Shaw said. “We rely on nonrenewable resources, such as coal or natural gas, to generate electricity, and we need to decrease our dependence on nonrenewable resources and increase our dependence on renewable resources,” she shared as she explained her poster during the presentation. “Renewable resources, specifically wind, will never be depleted.”

Popa (center)  and Shaw (left)  also visited several of the other student presentations during the event, including Gulakhshan Hamad’s (right).

Popa (center)  and Shaw (left)  also visited several of the other student presentations during the event, including Gulakhshan Hamad’s (right). Hamad, a graduate student at the Athens Campus, presented her work entitled “Using R-function to study the high-resolution spectrometer HRS acceptance for the 12 GeV era experiment E12-06-114 at JLab.”

In addition to encouraging Shaw to present her work at the meeting, Popa, shown here, presented “Computational Projects in Introductory Physics."

In addition to encouraging Shaw to present her work at the meeting, Popa, shown here, presented “Computational Projects in Introductory Physics” where she discussed the challenges of first-year students in introductory physics classes understanding different kinds of motion with real measured data. She explained that performing experiments and plotting the position versus time, and then the velocity versus time graphs is not enough to solidify the understanding of motion. 

“The introduction of simple computational projects, where students have to think in terms of variables, and have the opportunity to play with these variables and make up different situations, allows them to improve their perception of motion,” Popa said. “Working on computational projects engages students with different learning styles.”

Popa encourages her students to take on projects, engage in experiments and present their findings to enhance her physic classes. She had two students attend the Student Expo and has had several students present at the Association for University Regional Campuses of Ohio (AURCO) and APS meetings over the years. 

This article was provided by Ohio University Zanesville.