Undergraduate volunteers from the Department of Physics took some of their favorite kid-friendly demonstrations to share with families at the annual Family Science Night at Franklin School, Corvallis, on January 25th. The demonstrations included exploding balloons in a vacuum chamber, the dielectric breakdown of air, target practice with a vortex cannon, rainbow effects with diffraction glasses and the department’s home made hover craft. Many thanks to volunteers, Zack Colbert, Lincoln Worley, Mirek Brandt, Garrett Jepson, Hanna Hansen, and Mattia Carbonaro.
Prof. David McIntyre of the Department of Physics, and Marisa Chappell of the School of History, Philosophy and Religion (SHPR) have been named the 2018 Honors College Eminent Professors. The award recognizes faculty for outstanding teaching, research and undergraduate mentorship.
David McIntyre has been teaching physics at Oregon State since 1989, after earning his B.S. from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He has mentored two honors students’ thesis projects and was one of four faculty members who led the inaugural Honors College London Experience in the summer of 2016. He regularly teaches the honors recitation of the introductory physics course. He allows students’ curiosities to drive class discussion, asking them to submit a question each week about the course material or about any sort of physics question on their minds. “When students are first starting out, they’re very eager. I appreciate how curious they are. I try to make it centered around them,” McIntyre says. He has brought in lively demonstrations to spark that curiosity. For instance, he has used a Levitron – a magnetic toy – to show how frogs float using magnetism.
While teaching a course on Isaac Newton in the Honors College London study abroad program, he particularly took advantage of the possibilities for designing tangible experiences that illustrated and underlined course themes, including a trip to Greenwich to do navigational measurements with a sextant. “I try to present things in different ways. Everyone learns differently. In physics we have equations, graphs and words – all different ways to say things.” He says that over the years, he has continuously refined his teaching, finding out how to reach students and better determine what they already know and need to know. And, in turn, the students’ energy and curiosity inspire him in his teaching. “I got into academia because you’re guaranteed to work with younger and younger people and their energy. It’s why I’m in it. It’s just fun,” McIntyre says.
The Honors College Eminent Professor awards are made possible through the generosity of Honors College donors, particularly Ruth Beyer and Joseph (Sandy) and Cheryl Sanders. For a list of previous honorees, see http://honors.oregonstate.edu/faculty-awards.