SU-E-P-04: Transport Theory Learning Module in the Maple Environment




The medical physics graduate program at the University of Miami is developing a computerized instructional module which provides an interactive mechanism for students to learn transport theory. While not essential in the medical physics curriculum, transport theory should be taught because the conceptual level of transport theory is fundamental, a substantial literature exists and ought to be accessible, and students should understand commercial software which solves the Boltzmann equation.But conventional teaching and learning of transport theory is challenging. Students may be under prepared to appreciate its methods, results, and relevance, and it is not substantially addressed in textbooks for the medical physicists. Other resources an instructor might reasonably use, while excellent, may be too briskly paced for beginning students. The purpose of this work is to render teaching of transport theory more tractable by making learning highly interactive.


The module is being developed in the Maple mathematics environment by instructors and graduate students. It will refresh the students' knowledge of vector calculus and differential equations, and will develop users' intuition for phase space concepts. Scattering concepts will be developed with animated simulations using tunable parameters characterizing interactions, so that students may develop a “feel” for cross section. Transport equations for one and multiple types of radiation will be illustrated with phase space animations. Numerical methods of solution will be illustrated.


Attempts to teach rudiments of transport theory in radiation physics and dosimetry courses using conventional classroom techniques at the University of Miami have had small success, because classroom time is limited and the material has been hard for our students to appreciate intuitively.


A joint effort of instructor and students to teach and learn transport theory by building an interactive description of it will lead to deeper appreciation of the transport theoretical underpinnings of dosimetry.