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Physics Capstone GW

Course Materials for Physics Capstone at The George Washington University

The Physics Capstone course was revamped in the Fall 2018 semester, as part of a new Physics Capstone experience. Students work in a mentored learning environment to design and conduct research in physics in an ethical manner, explore and prepare for various careers in physics, and disseminate research findings to different audiences. All Physics majors (including the BS in Physics, Biophysics and Astrophysics, and the BA in Physics) take the Physics Capstone course (PHYS 4195W; 3 credits) in the Fall of the junior year. During the Spring of the junior year and Fall of the senior year, the BS students do most of their undergraduate research project under the supervision of a faculty member (3 credits). In the Spring of the senior year, the BS students take the Physics Symposium course (PHYS 4200; 1 credit), which guides them in preparing a report, poster and presentation on their research project. Students can earn credit in the Physics Capstone course for two elements of their General Education Curriculum: Writing and Oral Communication.

This repository contains materials of the Physics Capstone course, including the syllabus and class materials (including slides and grading rubrics). This course has been taught in the Fall 2018, Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 semesters, for class sizes varying from 8 to 20 students. The course structure and materials have been improved upon based on in-class experience and feedback from students. The primary instructor typically invites expert guest instructors for some specific aspects of the course, including classes on physics careers, applications for graduate school, physics outreach, and diversity and inclusion. Besides an overview and all materials of the course, there are separate pages for certain topics of interest, in particular classes and activities related to physics careers, the physics community, physics research, oral presentations, and written communication. Writing aspects of the course were developed in collaboration with the University Writing Program. A Fall 2018 article featured the course, including interviews with some of the students.

The revision of the Physics Capstone course is part of a revision of the Physics Curriculum at the George Washington University. This is in line with the Phys21 report of the Joint Task Force on Undergraduate Physics Programs, convened by the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers. Some of the aspects of the course are funded by the PIPELINE Network of the American Physical Society. The Physics Capstone experience was part of curricular innovations that led to the George Washington University receiving the American Physical Society's Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education.

Copyright - Creative Commons License

Faculty can use these course materials under Creative Commons License Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0.

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