Matt Vonk

Matt is a professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin River Falls (UWRF) where he takes the lead on the three courses in the Electronics sequence in addition to teaching Algebra-Based Physics, Modern Physics, and Astronomy. 

He is passionate about teaching physics and using video and other technology to enhance student learning.  Matt is currently serving a term as Fulbright Ambassador, regularly grades AP (Advanced Placement) exams in physics, and serves as advisor to the Gender and Sexuality Association at UWRF. 

Matt as taught electronics at universities in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, and will spend the spring semester 2014 teaching in China. 

 Selected Publications:  

Erosion Pillars  http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/article/63/12/10.1063/1.3529012

Video is the new Writing:  http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/news//10.1063/PT.4.0560

Water Jetpacks:  http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/article/66/1/10.1063/PT.3.1865

Materials Contributed through SERC-hosted Projects

Activities (2)

Airplane on a String part of Direct Measurement Videos:Activities
This video is a fun example of the classic conical pendulum problem. Students will analyze a video featuring an airplane on a string. The tension in the string can be read from an on-screen scale, timing measurements can be made from the frame-counter, and the angle of the string can be determined from an overlaid protractor. While this doesn't seem like enough information, it's actually enough to allow students to calculate the angular and linear velocity of the plane, the mass of the plane, the radius of its circular path, and the length of the string. It's an engaging problem that forces students to think clearly about some concepts that they frequently find confusing, like tension, circular motion, and centripetal acceleration. The video at right is a preview of the video students use for the activity. A downloadable QuickTime video that allows students to step through frame-by-frame is below.

Airplane on a String part of Pedagogy in Action:Library:Using Direct Measurement Videos to Teach Physics:Examples
This video is a fun example of the classic conical pendulum problem. Students will analyze a video featuring an airplane on a string. The tension in the string can be read from an on-screen scale, timing measurements can be made from the frame-counter, and the angle of the string can be determined from an overlaid protractor. While this doesn't seem like enough information, it's actually enough to allow students to calculate the angular and linear velocity of the plane, the mass of the plane, the radius of its circular path, and the length of the string. It's an engaging problem that forces students to think clearly about some concepts that they frequently find confusing, like tension, circular motion, and centripetal acceleration. The video at right is a preview of the video students use for the activity. A downloadable QuickTime video that allows students to step through frame-by-frame is below.

Teaching Method Module

Direct Measurement Videos part of Direct Measurement Videos
Direct Measurement Videos are short, high-quality videos of real events that allow students to easily explore, measure, and predict physical phenomena. Several of the videos are paired with classroom-ready activities that integrate videos into the introductory mechanics curriculum.

Other Contributions (7)

2D motion with constant velocity part of Direct Measurement Videos:Activities
This activity is intended to introduce students to the distinction between vector and scalar quantities and to give them practice manipulating vectors (converting between X/Y and magnitude/angle representations) in a context that is easy to understand and concrete.

Car Sliding across an ice rink activity page part of Direct Measurement Videos:Activities
This activity guides students through the process of analyzing the motion of a car as it moves across an ice rink and then rapidly decelerates as the brakes are pressed. In addition to one dimensional kinematics, the worksheet prompts students to consider both the frictional force and measurement uncertainty.

Person Sliding on Ice Activity Page part of Direct Measurement Videos:Activities
This activity guides students through the process of analyzing the motion of a person as he moves across an ice rink and then rapidly decelerates as he slides across the ice. In addition to one dimensional kinematics, the worksheet prompts students to consider both the frictional force and measurement uncertainty.

The Wave activity page part of Direct Measurement Videos:Activities
This activity guides students through the process of analyzing the motion of a water coaster at an amusement park as it comes down and hill and then rapidly decelerates when it hits a water pool. In addition to one dimensional kinematics, the worksheet prompts students to consider forces, Newton's Laws, and even the existence and causes of non-constant acceleration.

Curiosity Launch part of Direct Measurement Videos:Activities
This activity is based on the Curiosity Launch video and prompts students to make basic kinematic measurements and calculations based on the video, including elapsed time, displacement, starting velocity, average velocity, final velocity, and acceleration.

How Fast is that? Ice Skaters 1 part of Direct Measurement Videos:Activities
This is a short activity intended to give students an introduction to the concepts of displacement and average acceleration. It is based on the "How Fast is that? Ice Skaters" Video

Keep in Time part of Direct Measurement Videos:Activities
This activity is based on the "Keep in Time" video and allows students to measure the speed of sound in air in a way that is intuitive and visual. I use this activity so that my students can practice making velocity calculations. A quick and easy way for students to measure the velocity of sound is to look only at the first and last claps, but the video can also be a great way to practice graphing skills and graph analysis skills.