Speaker: Dr. Benedikt Harrer, San Jose State University
Abstract: Over the years, numerous graphical representations have been proposed that allow learners of physics to visualize energy states and dynamics in a particular situation. Each diagram highlights different aspects of energy and therefore may represent different conceptualizations of energy. The Energy-Interaction Diagram is a representation for energy dynamics in a physical system that highlights energy conservation and was originally developed by the late Wendell Potter (formerly of the University of California, Davis) for use in the Collaborative Learning through Active Sense-making in Physics (CLASP) curriculum. We have found that students’ use of the Energy-Interaction Diagram can evoke productive resources for disciplinary engagement with energy. I will show this with the example of a student group trying to make sense of a puzzling scenario: Two billiard balls on parallel incline tracks with different widths – why does one ball roll down the ramp faster than the other? In particular, these students activate the resources indicator reasoning, systems thinking, metaphor use, and mechanistic reasoning while modeling this scenario with the Energy-Interaction Diagram.