Temple Times Online Edition
    JANUARY 20, 2005
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Students from Philadelphia’s Masterman High visit Temple physics lab

Associate professor of physics Zbigniew Dziembowski demonstrates how to set up a block-and-tackle machine for three students from Philadelphia’s Masterman High School.

Twenty-four juniors from Philadelphia’s Masterman High School received hands-on experience in the physics of matter and motion at the laboratory of associate professor Zbigniew Dziembowski on Dec. 9.

The students, working in teams of four, rotated between nine stations performing a series of experiments investigating such principles as how force is related to acceleration, how various objects fall under influence of gravity and what are the patterns of roller coaster motion.

“Usually, physics is taught in such a way that the students are informed about the laws of physics, and most of the time they drill on someone else’s discovery,” Dziembowski said. “What they do here is spend about five hours in my laboratory collecting data on these laws using equipment that is not usually available in high school classrooms. They experience the laws of physics through experimentation rather than a teacher’s lecture.”

The students were accompanied by their teacher, Mamadou Kane, who met Dziembowski when he participated in a physics course taught by the Temple professor as part of the Eisenhower Integrated Math/ Science/Technology program for middle and high school teachers of Philadelphia. The program was a set of graduate courses demonstrating the interconnected knowledge of science, mathematics and technology.

“The students really learn better when they are able to manipulate the equipment,” said Kane, who earned his teacher’s certification through the College of Education. “I teach theories in my class, but you can be certain that 80 percent of them don’t really make the connection to real-life situations.

“But, when we come here and use this equipment, they see that, yes, the equations do make sense,” he added. “They then start to become more interested in physics.”

This marked the second year that Kane has brought his class to Dziembowski’s lab.

Dziembowski said the Temple equipment used by the Masterman students was purchased through grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education that were intended to help prepare middle and high school teachers in the instruction of physics.

“Many of Temple University’s College of Science and Technology faculty members have reached out to the Philadelphia School District by offering courses designed to keep science and math teachers up to date in areas that they teach,” said Bruce Conrad, senior associate dean of the college. “By inviting students to participate in experiments in his laboratory, Dr. Dziembowski has directly impacted Philadelphia school students.”

- By Preston M. Moretz