Students try to find different studying methods to understand physics, but physics teachers are also constantly trying to teach physics in different ways to help students learn and appreciate physics.

Professor Elisha Huggins presented his award-winning program as a tool for teaching physics and talked about his convictions on how to teach contemporary physics at a colloquium conducted by the physics department last Friday at Dartmouth College.

Elisha Huggins, a long-time professor of physics, emphasized the importance of beginning each physics class with the principle of relativity, which he calls “weird science.” Although special relativity, the principle that there is no way to determine uniform motion, is commonly perceived as a very complicated concept of advanced theory, Huggins believes that it can be taught understandably to make sense of the rest of the course material.

Huggins emphasized that physics teachers can use 20th century topics in any standard course to make the rest of the subject matter relevant and fun. From music to magnetism, and probability to time compression, special relativity takes an important role in understanding almost all concepts in physics.

Huggins presented his entire colloquium lecture using a digitized textbook that he authored and published, which included embedded videos and easy navigation through chapters.

Huggins also demonstrated the use of his audio oscilloscope to teach harmonics, the uncertainty principle, and other concepts of physics. He spent four years developing this program, which is made available at a very low price. Using his program, which breaks down sound waves into individual harmonics and allows all kinds of analysis and manipulation of the sound waves, teachers can teach a whole multitude of principles, from answering the question of why same instruments playing the same note sound different to explaining the distribution of photons in laser pulse. However, Huggins argues that a true understanding of each of those concepts requires an understanding of special relativity first.

At the end of his presentation, Huggins beseeched all of the educators in the room to start week one with special relativity. He said, “It only takes four hours of fun stuff in the beginning, to make everything else fun.”