or: Confessions of a recently enLIGHTened physics teacher:
For years I'd been "teaching" about light...this mysterious electromagnetic wave able to propagate through a vacuum.
I'd been "answering" questions and "explaining" all sorts of phenomenon: Reflection: Like a ball bouncing... Refraction: Like a car rolling at an angle from a smooth surface to a rough one... Prisms and rainbows based on dispersion: Light travels at different speeds in different mediums because it interacts with the matter and, well, that is just what happens... Diodes: Like a one-way turnstile for current, you will study this in more depth if you take a university physics course...
Of course I wasn't very comfortable with any of these "explanations", but they seemed as in depth as the typical high school textbook. And although I could sort of follow Maxwell's equations one by one, I never had that "aha!" moment where any of these other topics made clear sense, so I locked onto many of the same superficial models listed above.
Fortunately, last summer I enrolled in PHS 560: Light and Matter. We learned some clear and powerful models that can be used to better explain the above topics and others. And what I really learned is that I can still learn.
In this course you will also perform labs and use powerful computer programs and applets, most of which can be used with your students.
If you are interested in a better understanding of electromagnetic waves and their interaction with matter, that is, if for you LIGHT MATTERS, then you will certainly want to consider enrolling in the course LIGHT and MATTER!
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