Though often treated as two separate disciplines, art and science can impact each other. Creativity is required for scientific breakthroughs and art is often an expression of scientific knowledge. A multi-interdisciplinary team here at the University of Texas at Dallas has developed a novel approach to educating physics students.

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Physics is a natural science in which abstract mathematical models of the physical world are developed and experimentally tested. However, students enrolled in physics courses often passively receive knowledge through lectures and are often limited on time to conduct experiments and confirm their conceptual understanding. Students need a more engaging and interactive environment that encourages real-life application to learn physics.

With a grant from the NSF STEM + Computing program, the team here at UT Dallas has developed a synergistic scaffolded learning environment in which students cultivate critical thinking through state-based modeling and dynamic simulation. They create their own simulations and turn abstract knowledge back into observable phenomena using three “STEPP” learning modules based on 1D/2D kinematics and Newton’s Laws of Motion.

To find out more about this topic tune in to the Research 411 Talk Show: Scaffolded Training Environment for Physics Programming (STEPP) on Wednesday, September 22 at 3 PM.