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UNF physics professor receives PICUP grant for computation-based curriculum support

June 22, 2021

Headshot of Dr. W. Brian LaneDr. W. Brian Lane, University of North Florida physics visiting instructor, has received a grant from the Partnership for Integration of Computation into Undergraduate Physics (PICUP) to support his project on computation-based physics curriculum changes. He is creating teaching models for physics educators that focus on teaching students about computation at the initial phase of their physics education.


In physics curriculum, there has traditionally been a “three-legged stool” of physics practice: math-based problem solving, experimental laboratory investigation and computational modeling. Historically, only these first two goals have been included in basic physics curricula. However, students often report a difficulty in understanding physics concepts without the knowledge of basic programming and computational tasks.


Lane is developing a series of tutorials for beginners that provide enough preparation to start working with a computational physics activity while requiring minimal overhead. Physics educators will be able to drop these tutorials into the beginning of their course so that they can introduce students to programming.


The first tutorial is written in the Python programming language and accompanying videos are available through Google Colab and on his educational YouTube channel, Let’s Code Physics. Subsequent tutorials will follow a similar format and expand into additional programming tasks and different programming languages.


PICUP is a professional organization that promotes the use of programming to improve physics education with goals to create a vibrant community of educators, a forum for open discussion, a collection of educational resources, and a set of strategies and tactics that support the development and improvement of undergraduate physics education through integration of computation across curriculum.