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Virtual Conference on Laboratory Instruction Beyond the First Year (vBFY) 2021


The conference was open for registration until July 28, 2021.


ALPhA will hold a Virtual Conference on Laboratory Instruction Beyond the First Year (vBFY) over zoom on July 29th, 2021.  You must be an ALPhA member to register for the conference and attend the zoom sessions. Make sure to renew your membership before registering! Conference schedule is the following:

Virtual BFY 2021 Thursday, July 29th

AM session 10-12 am central (11-1 pm EST or 8-10 am Pacific)
10-10:30 central President's opening words
10:30-12 central Plenary Session

PM session 2-4 pm central (3-5 pm EST or 12-2 pm Pacific)
2-3:30 pm central Workshop Session
3:30-4 pm central Regional Meeting Session
4-4:15 central President's closing words

Organizing Committee - Ernie Behringer, Ashley Carter (Chair), Anne Cox, Declan Mulhall, and Nathan Powers.

View the ALPhA Event Participation Code of Conduct.


Plenary Session: Times in Central Time Zone.

  • 10:30-10:50 Central Helping Students Build a Repertoire of Technical Competencies for Physics Careers - Randall Tagg
    Successful application of the rich conceptual base of physics to research and to real-world problems requires a variety of technical, computational, analytical, statistical, and workflow competencies. Focusing on technical competencies, these will be defined as knowledge and skills related to the design and use of instruments, apparatus, devices, and physical processes. Common examples include building signal-conditioning circuits and assembling optical systems. Specialized examples include using drones for gathering geophysical data or preparing living samples for biophysical studies. It should be possible to create an inventory of practical learning modules that can be flexibly adapted to various needs as students participate in research, pursue internships, explore specific technical careers, and improve human lives. A structured approach to developing this inventory will be presented along with specific examples of laboratory experiences that help students build and document a personal repertoire of technical competencies.
    Technical Competancies Report
    Technical Competancies topics

  • 11:00-11:20 Central Mentoring Professional Collaboration and Communication in the Physics Laboratory - Suzanne White Brahmia

    Collective intelligence (CI) (1) is the general ability of a particular group to perform well across a wide range of different tasks. CI provides a framework for operationalizing “to function effectively on a team”, which is recognized as a highly-valued workplace preparation skill.

    Our ongoing curricular efforts target increasing students’ CI in the context of a sophomore level physics laboratory. Developing CI involves explicit and increasingly sophisticated ongoing instructional activities about collaboration (e.g. social contracting, peer evaluation and feedback, code of conduct), communication products developed collaboratively (reports and presentations), experiments that are designed collaboratively, and a data reduction and modeling framework that hinges on students’ collective conceptualization– rather than a handbook – to guide their analysis. In this talk I will discuss the course structure in the context of the virtual reality labs used as part of remote laboratory instruction, and provide preliminary evidence of students developing more expert-like experimental physics epistemologies and increasingly sophisticated collaborative skills (2).

    1.      Woolley, A. W., Chabris, C. F., Pentland, A., Hashmi, N., & Malone, T. W. (2010). Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups. Science Magazine, 330(October), 686–688.

    2.      Canright, J., Zimmerman, C., and White Brahmia, S., Developing expertlike epistemologies about physics empirical discovery using virtual reality, paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2021 (under review)


  • 11:30-11:50 Central Utilizing J-TUPP/PHYS21 and PIPELINE/EPIC to Enhance Lab Experiences for Student Career Development - Douglas Arion
    The extensive research conducted by the J-TUPP panel for the PHYS21 report and the PIPELINE project that resulted in the EPIC report identified a range of skills, knowledge, and abilities that employers expect of physics graduates. Many of these can be accomplished by a suitable selection and adaptation of upper division laboratory activities and ancillary student experiences. This talk will present ways that this can be accomplished – meeting core physics pedagogical goals while enhancing the experiential impact to achieve career preparation outcomes. 

Workshop Session: To sign up for a workshop or view the abstract for a workshop, please see the Google Doc here. The workshop program is here.

  • Session 1 - 2:10-2:30 Central
    BraunsteinThe Fresnel Equations: Measurements and Analysis Workshop info, Slides, Fresnel fit, Image cube, Image apparatus
    FademElementary Particle Physics on a Budget: A Muon Telescope for the Undergraduate Lab
    van BaakCoupled-oscillator Phenomena Understood via the Language of Normal Modes
    LoweGamma Camera Imaging in an Undergraduate Physics Course, Workshop info
    Sen & SullivanMeasuring the Power Law Dependence of Magnetic Multipole Configurations Using a Smartphone
    BrodyQuantum Computing with IBM Quantum - Workshop Info
    BobowskiExploring the Non-ideal Characteristics of Transmission Lines, Workshop info

    Plenary Discussion

  • Session 2 - 2:40-3:00 Central
    Marlow Radio Astronomy Using a Remotely Connected 18 m Radio Telescope, Workshop info
    Riley Using a 5000-series PicoScope PC Oscilloscope as a Multi-channel DAQ, Workshop info
    Tagg The Nonlinear Dynamics of Self-sustained Oscillators, Workshop info, Experiment Guide, Theory
    Van de Bogart Modernizing a Positron Emission Tomography Lab
    Messina Magnetic Anisotropy of Ni Thin Films, Workshop info
    Borrero Exploring Dynamical Bifurcations in Fluid Flows Using Digital Image Correlation, Workshop info
    Newport The Pendulum Wave: An Exercise in Reverse Engineering
    Behringer Optics Discussion, Syllabus

  • Session 3 - 3:10-3:30 Central
    Roach Optical Resolution: Eye, Camera, and Telescope
    DeSerio Cosmic Ray Muons and the Muon Lifetime
    Morris A Soliton Wave Tank Experiment
    Boye Ruby, you thrill me so! Workshop info
    Reichert Can Students Really Confirm the Persistence of a Supercurrent?
    Hassel & McColgan Moseley's Law and Quantum Dot Activities for the Modern Physics Lab

    Cox Electronics Discussion

Regional Session:

  • Elect a new Regional Director.
  • Discuss the next Regional Meeting. Smaller regions (New York, New England) typically meet at the institution of the Regional Director. Larger regions (Southeastern) typically have a session at an AAPT Sectional Meeting, APS regional meeting, or other local meeting.


Interested in sponsoring vBFY? Send inquiries to the chair of the organizing committee, Ashley Carter.

Questions about vBFY may be addressed to the chair of the organizing committee, Ashley Carter.

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