I conduct my research within the Norwegian project ReleQuant. ReleQuant was established to investigate novel ways of teaching Einsteinian physics and to study students’ learning processes. In Einsteinian physics, demands both on students and teachers are high and field-tested educational material is rare. Luckily, digital learning resources provide new possibilities to teach topics that have been difficult to access in science classrooms before. Based on this insight, I developed an online learning environment about general relativity. In the process, I relied on the methodology of Design Based Research (DBR) that is based on repeated rounds of development in close collaboration with teachers. In the gallery, you get first glimpses of the learning environment.
General relativity is a new theory for gravitation. Introducing the idea that gravity is not a force, but a manifestation of the geometry of the universe, Einstein reinterpreted our physical reality and set the stage for the development of 20th century's physics. Whereas time and space are static features in classical physics, Einstein describes the relationship between space, time, and gravity by merging time and space into a dynamic four-dimensional fabric called spacetime. In this setting, we can explain gravity geometrically through the notion of curvature. What we experience as the "force" of gravity is actually evidence for curved space and warped time around us!
I have been involved in the formation of the Einsteinian Physics Education Research (EPER) collaboration that aims to develop new learning approaches in Einsteinian physics and to disseminate our learning resources and research results across a range of countries. EPER is a developing project that pools the efforts of educational researchers, physicists, and teachers from eight countries. The collaboration addresses the problem that physics in schools worldwide remains dominated by Newtonian perspectives. EPER was kickstarted by a joint workshop at the Gravity Discovery Center in Western Australia in 2016. Since then, we presented our work for example at GIREP 2017 and ESERA 2017.