**Syllabus for PHS 560:
Matter and Light (3 semester hours)**

Arizona State University
in Tempe

This course has
three primary goals:

1.
To develop
classical and quantum models of the interaction of matter and light, and
explore how they can be used to understand a variety of phenomena.

2.
To
stimulate development of materials and approaches that help high school and
two-year-college teachers in their efforts to bring these topics into their
classrooms.

3.
To
experience the beauty of physics and mathematics.

The
fundamental physics experience is not the memorization of facts such as the
number of quarks in a proton, but the consistent modeling of reality based on a
few basic laws. Unfortunately, serious modeling at the frontiers of physics
requires a level of mathematical and physical sophistication that even graduate
students of physics find extremely hard to achieve. Consequently, teachers at
the university or high school level must switch at some point from a modeling
to a descriptive approach. The
pressure to do so is probably stronger at the high school level, where students
presumably prefer to discuss neutrinos and black holes rather than Atwood
machines or free fall.

The frontier between the modeling and the
descriptive approach is not fixed, but can be shifted in favor of the modeling
approach with the help of pedagogical innovations. This course attempts to
stimulate such innovations in the field of light and matter interactions.

The classical
models are developed at what the instructors consider to be the minimum level
required for complete quantitative modeling. The quantum models are developed at a level appropriate for
some quantitative and some qualitative modeling. In both cases, this is often at a higher level than that of a
standard high school class. Therefore, the challenge for participant teachers
is to ascertain to what extent the materials can be further developed and
adapted so that serious modeling on light and matter can take place in their
classrooms.

The 5-week
summer course begins by reviewing and/or introducing—during the first
week—basic mathematical and physical concepts, such as the use of
derivatives, the physics of the harmonic oscillator, and complex numbers. Two
weeks are devoted to exploring light and matter interactions from the
perspective of the classical theory of electromagnetic fields and simple models
of matter. Next the limitations and contradictions of the classical approach
are discussed; and the subject is presented from the perspective of quantum
mechanics for the last two weeks.
Possible topics for application of quantum models include LEDs and
transistors, lasers, superconductors, and astronomy.

Algebra-level
knowledge of Newtonian mechanics, electricity and magnetism is assumed. Some
calculus (primarily derivatives and partial derivatives) and vectors is
used. These are developed in
class, but students benefit greatly if they have a chance to review them on
their own ahead of time.

There is
little lecturing in the traditional sense. At the beginning of each session the
students receive a handout with a guided list of activities. Depending on the
activities, students perform experiments, run computer simulations, or work in
groups at a whiteboard. Often
students are divided into groups to work on different problems and report their
results later to the entire class.

If the particular session requires
working as separate groups, the entire class sit together to draw conclusions
at the end of the session.

Where appropriate, at the end of a
session the group discusses possible uses of the topic in high school and
two-year-college contexts.

**History**

The course was developed in 2000-2002 by Jose Menendez, an ASU physics
professor, with Larry Dukerich, a high school physics teacher, and Richard
Clawson, a doctoral student in physics, with vision and contributions by
Professor David Hestenes, founder of the ASU MNS degree program for physics
teachers.