Van der Waals-Zeeman Colloquium

Thursday, 10 May 2007, 16:00h

The Visual Quantum Mechanics Project

Prof. Dean Zollman
Kansas State University

For several years we have been developing instructions materials to help high school and university students better understand contemporary physics and its applications. Visual Quantum Mechanics includes teaching/learning units to introduce quantum physics to a variety of audiences ranging from students who normally would not study these topics to undergraduate physics students. Interactive computer visualizations are coupled with hands-on experiences to improve learning of quantum physics and its applications to devices such as the light emitting diode. Recently this effort has been extended to diagnostic devices which are used by physicians and have their technological foundation in contemporary physics.


Dr. Dean Zollman is the William & Joan Porter Professor of Physics and Head of the Department of Physics at Kansas State University. During 2006-07 he is on-leave at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and IPN in Kiel where he is conducting research on teaching of medical applications of physics and on teaching of quantum physics.

He has focused his scholarly activities on research and development in physics education since 1972. He received three major awards – the National Science Foundations Director’s Award for Distinguished Teacher Scholars (2004), the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Doctoral University Professor of the Year (1996), and American Association of Physics Teachers’ Robert A. Millikan Medal (1995). His present research concentrates on investigating the mental models and operations that students develop as they learn physics and how students transfer knowledge in the learning process. He also applies cutting edge technology to the teaching physics and to providing instructional and pedagogical materials to physics teachers, particularly those teachers whose background does not include a significant amount of physics. Professor Zollman leads the Visual Quantum Mechanics project which develops materials for teaching quantum physics to three different groups of students -- non-science students, science and engineering students, and students interested in biology and medicine. His present instructional and research projects include Modern Miracle Medical Machines, Physics Pathway, research on student learning and the transfer of learning by elementary school teachers.

Dr. Zollman earned his PhD in Theoretical Nuclear Physics from the University of Maryland – College Park (1970) and his MS (1965) and BS (1964) from Indiana University – Bloomington.