• Sean Downes
12 episodes
This is a podcast about learning and teaching physics, from someone who's been in the trenches for almost two decades. We'll also discuss how to relate the classroom to big ideas in contemporary research: like what circuits have to do with quantum mechanics, how special relativity impacts us - literally every day - and how the Doppler effect can teach us about the earliest moments - and the farthest reaches - of our universe. Whether you’re a student or an instructor, you’ll find a wealth of ideas both practical and inspirational. Here at the Pasayten Institute, we’re convinced that like photons, perspectives should be exchanged, and often! Join the discussion! Drop us a line: team@pasayten.org. We can't wait to talk shop with you.


Physics Friday: g-2, STEAM and Ingenuity on Mars
2021 Apr 168m 7s
Some recent physics news! The results from Fermilab's Muon g-2, art and science and the ingenuity's flight delays.
Teaching Strategies : Good and Bad ways to Grade Exams
2021 Apr 1311m 43s
Today is more strategy than tactics. The context will be undergraduate education, but a lot can be directly applied to high school physics as well. We’ll also share some practical tips and hard truths, as well as some borderline egregious counterexamples that you’ll want to avoid.
Learning Strategies : Think like a Physicist with... Benzene?
2021 Apr 129m 26s
Learning physics sometimes means learning to think like a physicist. Today we'll discuss what that means - or at least what physicists tend to think that it means, and compare how a simple lesson from integral calculus points to a powerful lesson for modeling electron distributions in quantum mechanics.
Physics Friday 2: Some physics new from the week that was!
2021 Apr 0910m 38s
Today: Majorana Fermions. Xenobots and Dark Matter.
Big Ideas : Spin in Classical and Quantum Mechanics
2021 Apr 0713m 51s
Today we relate a narrative approach to taking ideas from first year physics to the threshold of quantum mechanics.
Teaching Strategies : The open-homework quiz
2021 Apr 066m 3s
Professor Gramila’s idea was simple. Homework was optional. Each week in recitation, we had a quiz. The quiz was closed book, but open homework. These special open-homework quizzes were designed with these two principles in mind.
Learning Strategies : Samir's rule of three : 3 times without looking
2021 Apr 058m 19s
This is a great tool for self-assessment and exam preparation, but it's also a useful mnemonic to systematize your learning. In particular, it's great for self-study.
Physics Friday : Some physics new from the week that was!
2021 Apr 0211m 32s
The LHCb experiment reports on new tension with the Standard Model of Particle Physics. The Glashow Resonance is observed by the IceCube Neutrino experiment. Superconducting skyrmions are observed in two-layers of graphene.
Big Ideas : Special Relativity and Proxima Centauri C
2021 Mar 318m 1s
Traveling at 90% of the speed of light, how long would it take you to get to Proxima Centauri C, this potentially habitable planet? How long do you think? If you answered more than 4.24 years. You’d be totally wrong.
Teaching Strategies : Polling with Quizzes
2021 Mar 308m 49s
Assessment is a fun topic to explore intellectually - how best to have students demonstrate their knowledge and skill, but in practice it can be a huge pain. Grading at scale is really, really hard.