Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education

Sponsor photo


The Slesnick Symposium is an annual symposium series in memory of Irwin L. Slesnick, one of the co-founders of SMATE and leader in the field of Science Education. 




Upcoming Slesnick Symposium:

Friday April 28, 2017 - Key note speaker will be Suzanne Brahmia from University of Washington

Suzanne White Brahmia is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Washington, and a member of the UW Physics Education Group. She earned her B.S. in physics at the UW. She was a high school physics teacher in the Peace Corps in Gabon, West Africa and then attended graduate school at Cornell University, where her research focus was in experimental solid state physics.  She ultimately became involved in Physics Education Research, which stole her heart, and subsequently became the focus of her doctoral dissertation work at Rutgers University.  She has given numerous talks and published articles on the mathematization of introductory physics and on her efforts to improve equity in the representation of women and ethnic minorities amongst successful physics students. She served on the National Research Council (NRC) Committee on Undergraduate Physics Education that produced the report Adapting to a changing world - Challenges and opportunities in undergraduate physics education, and represented New Jersey in the NRC's development and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.   She was one of the original developers of the ISLE (Investigative Science Learning Environment) curriculum, and she is the co-author with Peter Lindenfeld of the critically acclaimed textbook, Physics, the First Science.

Tentative Schedule:

10:30-12:30    C-Core poster symposium

12:30-1:30      Lunch

1:30-3:00        Workshop facilitated by Suzanne Brahmia -  Physics Invention Tasks: Developing Mathematical Creativity as a Scientific Practice (see below for full description)

3:00-4:00        Student panel (focused on math in science)

4:00-5:00        Matteo Tamburini from NWIC (math)

5:00-6:00        Suzanne Brahmia keynote

6:00-7:30        Reception


Physics Invention Tasks: Developing Mathematical Creativity as a Scientific Practice

This workshop introduces PITs (Physics Invention Tasks(1)), curricular activities designed to foster mathematical creativity in the context of physical quantities and relationships. Affective measures show that traditional physics instruction results in students viewing physics as formulaic (Adams et al. 2006), which may contribute to the lack of diverse interest in physics as a discipline (Ross & Otero, 2013).  Important goals of PITs include developing expectations that physics should make sense, and strengthening beliefs that na├»ve views and mathematical sensemaking facilitate learning.

Research in mathematics education has shown that invention tasks help students use math creatively while priming them for subsequent formal instruction (Schwartz et al., 2011). PITs support the construction of quantitative physics concepts and relationships while contributing to a well-defined set of physics course norms in which struggle is communal, there are no dumb ideas, and creativity is valued.  These norms align well with authentic science practices and the NGSS practices, but contrast starkly with a stereotypical physics course in which there is little motivation for its algebraic reasoning. In this workshop participants will be introduced to the many PITs that are developed and validated. No physics background is assumed.

1 PDF icon Physics Intervention Tasks; Brahmia, Boudreaux & Kanim