Reconnecting with Ton Ellermeijer at WCPE

I recently attended the modestly named World Conference on Physics Education in Istanbul. One of the highlights of the meeting was connecting with my old friend Ton Ellermeijer and meeting his colleague, André Heck.

Some of the most innovative developments in educational technology have been made during the last 25 years at the AMSTEL Institute at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, under the direction of Ton Ellermeijer. At this university, Ph.D. students in physics and other sciences could specialize in education at the Institute, which was on a par with more traditional areas of physics research. Sadly, a new dean eliminated AMSTEL in 2010. Ton soldiers on from a nonprofit he founded in 1987 (Foundation CMA), but with a reduced staff.

AMSTEL developed extensive probeware for real-time data acquisition, as well as several generations of COACH, software for analyzing these data, modeling, control, video data capture and animations. This technology has been integrated into STEM instruction using well-designed and tested materials. One area in which they have done particularly interesting work is sports physics using video analysis. Widely used in Europe, this material is unknown in the U.S., which is a great loss.

André Heck worked with Ton for a decade and published nearly 60 scholarly articles on various aspects of this research. This wealth of material has recently been collected in André’s Ph.D. thesis.The print version of the thesis comes with a CD ROM that includes all these articles as well as considerable student materials.

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