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  • Workshop: "The Spreadsheet Lab Manual"-- Expanding Spreadsheet Modeling Capability in High School Physics

Workshop: "The Spreadsheet Lab Manual"-- Expanding Spreadsheet Modeling Capability in High School Physics

  • 13 Apr 2019
  • 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Cinnaminson HS, Cinnaminson, NJ
  • 11


  • Must be a NJAAPT member.
    Payment in advance required.
    If using school invoice. please pay in advance, and a refund will be sent when school check has been received.

Registration is closed

Do you want to learn more about using spreadsheets in your Physics/STEM classes, and teach your students (at all levels) the power of spreadsheets to model a system? 

If you missed this workshop last October, or if you liked Mike's poster session at the November Regional Meeting, Spreadsheet Modelin is being offered again!

It's well worth your time, and you'll have modules to use in your classroom! 

Note:  this content is suitable for all levels of Physics students, not just advanced levels!

And "developing / using models" is part of NGSS Science Standards !

"The Spreadsheet Lab Manual" -- Expanding Spreadsheet Modeling Capability in High School Physics 

Hosted and Presented by Michael McConnell, Cinnaminson HS

Location:           Cinnaminson HS, Cinnaminson, NJ  

Room E264

1197 Riverton Rd, Cinnaminson, NJ 08077  (Burlington County)

Building Entrance:  The front entrance to the two story wing sits directly between the Gym (right) and the main entrance (left) when facing the front of the building from the driveway. Yellow parking spots  in the 140’s are right in front of that area.

Date/ Time:       Saturday April 13, 2019   

8:30-9:00        Registration/Coffee    

9:00-noon      Workshop

Cost:                     $10                  Registration deadline Tues Apr 9, 2019.

What to Bring:         

Bring a laptop, tablet, or Chromebook that can run Excel or Sheets. 

Teachers attending the workshop will receive 2 of the lab modules (Kinematics:  1- and 2-D motion with drag force)  to take back to the classroom and use.

About the workshop:

“Creating mathematical models using spreadsheets can help students learn at deep levels in both science and mathematics, and give teachers an excellent opportunity to integrate these two disciplines.“ (Horton, Leonard 2005) 

Spreadsheet software is widely used, versatile and can replicate calculations in mass with simple commands.  This makes it the ideal platform for teaching students to analyze data and build models.  Compared to hand held calculators, a spreadsheet increases a student's computational rate by several orders of magnitude.  This makes learning in STEM more efficient and more interactive while students gain proficiency and skills they will need in higher education and many future careers.  Spreadsheets have standardized layout, cell referencing and formula writing conventions, and virtually every function shares the same language across multiple brands.  Spreadsheets are fundamental to data analysis, skills are in demand and provide a foundation for literacy with more complex software such as databases.   This presentation will discuss opportunities for expanding spreadsheet modeling applications within the Physics curriculum.  The goal is to help Physics teachers have their students experience the value added that spreadsheet modeling offers, just as spreadsheets have already benefited business and industry.

Models that simulate realistic behavior analytically (such as motion with drag force, continually changing temperatures, populations) are typically complex, using mathematics such as calculus or differential equations.  The spreadsheet, however can use replicated linear calculations to solve the same problem.  This opens up the modeling capability of the realm of calculus and differential equations for high school students using exclusively algebraic equations.  This can be accomplished by having students follow precisely guided procedures to program and then study a spreadsheet model starting from a blank spreadsheet.  Modeling techniques include numerical methods such as areas of trapezoids, Euler's Method, slopes of lines, difference equations, and a variety of functions applied incrementally over large numbers of cells (102-104).  Using the computational power of the spreadsheet along with these and other modeling techniques enhances the study of Physics in many areas of the curriculum.  Three areas in particular that will be presented are quantitative spreadsheet models of (1 and 2 dimensional) freefall motion with drag force, dynamic heat transfer using Newton's Law of Cooling, and electrostatics (single and multidimensional) charge distributions.  There are many other applications, but the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), has clearly endorsed the development and study of models.  Modeling science with spreadsheets delivers the capability of the modern computer to students to investigate limitless quantitative applications.  The  spreadsheet is here to stay and its availability, simplicity and calculating power mean it represents the best opportunity for expanding computer science to all students by incorporating programming into high school and college Physics, as well as other subject areas of STEM.

Teachers attending the workshop will receive 2 of the lab modules (1- and 2-D motion with drag force)  to take back to the classroom and use.

About the Presenter :

My name is Michael McConnell and I teach AP Physics C, Engineering Design, and Physical Science at Cinnaminson High School.  I earned a degree in Chemical Engineering (Lafayette College, 2004).  My education and professional experience has helped me develop a unique skills set that can help Physics teachers succeed in the era of NGSS. 

On top of teaching full time, I also am a Physics adjunct at Camden County College in Blackwood where I have taught  Physics for Automotive and non-Science majors.  I also coach wrestling at Cinnaminson HS.

A major area of focus is that I have been extensively involved in researching and developing the pedagogy of spreadsheet modeling in the high school Physics curriculum (also Chemistry, Biology and Math).  I have done workshops and supplied schools in the area and across the country with "The Spreadsheet Lab Manual" which uses numerical methods (Euler's Method and Trapezoid Rule for example) to algebraically model non-ideal phenomena in Science.  Expanding the use of this methodology only happens with  teacher training.  Funding Support Pending:  Currently under review for National Science Foundation: SBIR Phase 1, December 2018, NSF 18-593.


Questions about the workshop?  contact Nancy at hhsphysics@comcast.net

Payment in advance required.
If using school invoice, please pay in advance, and a refund will be sent to you when your school check has been received.

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