Student use of a material anchor for quantum wave functions

Catherine C. Schiber, Hunter G. Close, Eleanor W. Close, David Donnelly
2014 2013 Physics Education Research Conference Proceedings   unpublished
We explain the appropriate use of pipe cleaners to represent quantum wave functions in terms of material anchors. We then analyze the actions of one undergraduate quantum mechanics student in an oral exam situation with two related tasks, both involving the visualization of a 3-d structure to represent the real and imaginary parts of the wave function on one spatial coordinate. Instruction before the exam included several in-class activities involving building 3-d representations of wave
more » ... ns for several potentials using pipe cleaners. Though the oral exam did not specify that students should or should not use pipe cleaners, the student in this analysis brought and used them successfully during the exam. Analysis of the students' use of this tool shows promise of benefit to future students in a more highly structured environment of instruction and assessment.
doi:10.1119/ fatcat:fggo5w5pbjhubnouqez4e3iwhy