Physics Colloquium: From Particle Physics to Education: The Role of Tinkering

Event Details

  • Speaker(s): Mats Selen
  • Date:
  • Time: 3:00 PM
  • Location: MacN 415


The love of tinkering is perhaps the single most universal trait among scientists. From designing an experiment to building a computer application to solving a differential equation, the cycle of "observe - explain - test - revise” is at the root of the scientific creative process. 

We have developed a low-cost wireless lab system with the goal of putting powerful scientific instrumentation in the hands of every student, both inside and outside of the classroom. I will describe this project and show how it is enabling a radical shift in the way we approach introductory physics labs at the University of Illinois. 


Mats earned B.Sc.('82) and M.Sc.('83) degrees in physics at the University of Guelph, and M.A.('85) and Ph.D.('89) degrees in particle physics at Princeton University. After a post-doc at Cornell he joined the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois in 1993, where he is now the Associate Head of Undergraduate Programs. With Illinois colleagues he developed the iclicker classroom response system, the FlipIt learning framework, and the IOLab wireless data acquisition system. He was named the 2015 U.S. Professor of the Year.