### Activity Workflow

Forget the Math! Draw pictures to learn abstract concepts in the wave theory of light

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Applied Strategy: Problem-Based Learning

- Physics

- College & CEGEP

- NYC Waves, Light, and Modern Physics

- Group
- Whole Class

- Solving problems
- Reviewing & assessing peers
- Writing

- Whiteboards

Single class period (< 90 mins)

- Application & practice

In this activity, students, working in groups, are asked to answer a series of problems on the wave theory of light and double-slit interference by starting from a drawing instead of a pre-memorised formula. After students have achieved a conceptual understanding of the theory by using drawings, they can start using formulae to solve increasingly harder problems.

Students solve problems 0, 1 and 2 (see attached material for examples) using the drawing of concentric circles.

Problem2 is quite hard, and most groups are not actually expected to reach a solution; if no ...

Read More +In this activity, students, working in groups, are asked to answer a series of problems on the wave theory of light and double-slit interference by starting from a drawing instead of a pre-memorised formula. After students have achieved a conceptual understanding of the theory by using drawings, they can start using formulae to solve increasingly harder problems.

Students solve problems 0, 1 and 2 (see attached material for examples) using the drawing of concentric circles.

Problem2 is quite hard, and most groups are not actually expected to reach a solution; if no group reaches a solution in around 25 minutes, the instructor will further explain the problem by presenting the appropriate picture. After the problem and picture are understood, the instructor presents to the students a solution with formulae.

The instructor then describes problem3 which, because of the distances involved, cannot be solved by drawing a picture. If there is still time, students can then begin to work on problem4; if not, they are expected to work on this at home and it will be discussed at the beginning of the following class.

Peer instruction between groups is encouraged - students are told to ask each other for advice and explanations instead of asking the teacher. Of course, the instructor also provides guidance and clarifies concepts.

Read Less -The purpose of this activity is for students to grasp the concept behind the formulae by first answering a problem using a drawing. This allows them to develop a qualitative, image-based solution in mind instead of simply applying a series of memorised, “correct” formulae.

Published: 16/10/2018

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