Teaching

Holding a PHYS 411 (General Relativity and Cosmology) class outdoors in Freedom Square (Spring 2018)

I have taught algebra- and calculus-based Introductory Physics (PHYS 211,212 and 241), Astronomy (ASTR 161), Electricity and Magnetism (PHYS 242), Mathematical Physics (PHYS 307), and a seminar course called Physics and Metaphysics (TSEM 102). In 2018, I revived a long-dormant course at Towson University: Introduction to General Relativity and Cosmology (PHYS 411, pictured above). Among the visitors to drop in on this class was Towson university President Kim Schatzel.

Just before asking my PHYS 352 (Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics) students to help shovel coal during an excursion on the Wilmington & Western Railroad. Photo courtesy Kanji Takeno (April 2019)

My newest course is Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (PHYS 352/552), which I have revamped with the help of department operations manager Trevor Lowing. In 2019, we took the students on a day-long field trip to Delaware’s Wilmington & Western Railroad (pictured above). For 2021 and 2022, we switched from steam trains to steam ships. With the help of funding from Towson’s BTU program, we visited the engine room of one of the last two World War II Liberty Ships still in operation, Baltimore’s S.S. John W. Brown (see 2021 news story and 2022 video feature). In the future, I plan to expand this field trip to include also the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship, the N.S. Savannah.

Remote teaching from my basement during the COVID pandemic (December 2020). The home-made electric guitar that I am using here to demonstrate electromagnetic induction was created by our department’s secret weapon, teacher-in-residence Jim Selway (in yellow), who also built the Kelvin water dropper at far right.

During the COVID pandemic from 2020-2021, these courses had to be taught from home. My setup for recreating the classroom experience remotely is shown above. I set up a large whiteboard and light diffuser (beach umbrella) in my basement. I used one laptop to record the lectures and another one connected to a large display on top of a ladder to show me the students in gallery mode. (This meant I had to sign in twice using two different zoom accounts). I brought over many of the classroom demos as I had done on campus, and set up a small table with a close-up camera where I could show students how to do many of the lab activities. The students each received a packet of lab equipment in the mail at the beginning of the course, so that they were able to follow along and do those same activities at home.

In the fall of 2021, all these courses moved back to campus and into Towson’s new Science Complex. My Fall 2021 PHYS 242 class appeared briefly in a video by Henry Basta commemorating the ribbon-cutting for this building:

 

I have been lucky to work with many amazing students in individual research courses such as Directed Readings (PHYS 491), Independent Studies (PHYS 490,690), Special Topics (PHYS 470), Capstone Research (PHYS/ASTR 495,695), Honors Thesis (HONR 499), etc. These courses have been taught on an “off-load” (voluntary) basis.

In 2021, I received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics.