The CPU Project

CPU Staff


Senior Staff

Fred Goldberg Photo

Fred Goldberg, Project Director

Fred Goldberg is Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics at San Diego State University. He is also Head of the Physics Learning Research Group in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CRMSE). Although trained in atomic physics, for the past fifteen years he has concentrated his efforts on research in physics learning and the development of instructional materials. During the past eight years he has directed ten major projects (nine supported by the National Science Foundation) involving research in physics learning, materials development, teacher preparation and/or teacher enhancement. His research focus has been on investigating student understanding in various domains of physics, developing strategies to facilitate meaningful learning within those domains, and documenting how students learn physics in the context of using these new strategies (many of which involve computer technology). He has collaborated with members of the Physics Learning Research Group to develop interactive computer programs in the domains of geometrical optics, static electricity, electric circuits and magnetism. The design of these programs was based on research in how students learn physics. The powerful and innovative software being developed in the present CPU project builds on that previous work.


Pat Heller, Project Co-Director

Pat Heller is a professor of science education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota. She received a M.S. in physics from the University of Washington in 1969 and a Ph.D. in science education from the University of Michigan in 1978. She has a wide range of teaching experiences, including general science at the elementary school level, physics, chemistry and physical science at the high school level, and science education for elementary and secondary teachers at the college level. Her research focus has been in two areas: student difficulties with the conceptual and mathematical aspects of problem solving, and the design and evaluation of an instructional approach to help students overcome their difficulties with these two aspects of problem solving.


Sharon Bendall, Project Associate Manager

Sharon Bendall received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics from Memphis State University, then for over two years worked in traditional research at IBM's T. J. Watson Laboratory in New York State. After coming to San Diego, Sharon has served as a part-time faculty member of the Physics Department at San Diego State University, where she has taught the calculus-based introductory physics course for scientists and engineers. Since leaving traditional physics research 10 years ago, she has been intensively involved in research in physics education. Her experience as a professional researcher in a non-academic environment has given her insight into the abilities that students need after their tenure in formal education. Sharon has had senior responsibilities on two prior NSF-funded projects. On these projects she participated in the development of a computer-based physics curriculum for pre-service elementary shcool teachers. She recently served as the principle investigator on another NSF-funded project to develop a "writing to learn" strategy for the calculus-based introductory physics course. The strategy helps students to develop a strong conceptual base that is often lacking in traditional versions of this course. On the CPU Project Sharon will participate in the design of the CPU curriculum and will work with national teams who will be implementing the curriculum. In addition to her work in physics education, Sharon enjoys church and family activities (she has a terrific husband and three great children), cooking and flower gardening (her husband claims that she mostly likes to plant and pick them, leaving the rest of the work to him).

Shannel Honore Photo

Shannel Honoré, Project Assistant



Development Staff

Jen Hickman Photo

Jennifer Hickman, Boston University Academy

Jennifer holds a B.A. in physics from Wellesley College, a Masters of Natural Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is currently completing a doctorate in science education at Boston University. She taught physics and astronomy at the Pomfret School, Phillips Academy and most recently at Boston University Academy where she currently serves as Administrative Dean. Jennifer is the author of Problem Solving Exercises in Physics. (Addison-Wesley, 1991).
She has chaired the Astronomy Education Committee of the American Association of Physics Teachers and served on the AAPT Executive Board. In addition, Jennifer has served on Educational and Advisory Boards of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, Boston's Hayden Planetarium, AGU's "Earth in Space" magazine and was the section editor for the "AstroNotes" column in The Physics Teacher magazine.
In 1990, Jennifer was the recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching and in 1992 received the Tandy Technology Scholars Award. She has served as one of the consulting teachers to Project STAR at Harvard's Center for Astrophysics, is a PTRA, an Operation Physics workshop leader and has conducted numerous workshops for teachers around the country. She has been working with the CPU Project since 1995.

Paul Hickman Photo

Paul Hickman, Belmont High School

Paul taught high school physics for twenty-five years at Cold Spring Harbor H.S. in New York and Belmont H.S. in Massachusetts before joining The Center for the Enhancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME) at Northeastern University. At CESAME, he works with teachers around New England to advance K-12 educational reform.
He was the recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching in 1988, was a Tandy Technology Teacher in 1993 and was the first recipient of AAPTís award for Excellence in Pre-college Physics Education in 1996. Paul has been fortunate to be involved with several national programs to improve teaching and learning including, PTRA, Operation Physics, Doing and Thinking Physics and Patterns in Nature. Active in AAPT, he has served on the Committee on the Laboratory, the Pre-High School Committee and the editorial Board of the Physics Teacher.
He has contributed articles to many journals and has given invited talks/workshops for teachers nationwide. Paul is presently secretary for The Association of Presidential Awardees in Science Teaching (APAST). His special interests are pre-service teacher education, ninth-grade physics and the use collaborative electronic journals (ICE Learning Logs) which he developed. Paul has been working on the CPU team since 1995.

Jim Minstrell Photo

Jim Minstrell, ACT Systems for Education


Robert Morse Photo

Robert Morse, St. Albans School

Bob Morse has taught high school physics for over 25 years in both public and private school settings, currently teaching at St. Albans School in Washington, DC. Since 1985 he has also been a Physics Teaching Resource Agent, creating and giving workshops for other physics teachers. He is the author of the AAPT PTRA-Plus Workshop TEACHING ABOUT ELECTROSTATICS and one of the authors of the SATLE Project curriculum in electricity. He has also written a number of short articles for The Physics Teacher magazine. Bob has worked extensively with computers in his teaching using Microcomputer Based Laboratory methods and simulations coupled with laboratory experiences for teaching mechanics. His other interests include amateur radio, sailing, music and theatre. An active member of the American Association of Physics Teachers, Bob has served on the High School committee and is currently a member of the Laboratory committee. He is a Tandy Technology Scholar and a Presidential Award Winner. One of his student's favorite activities is the catapult contest, in which teams of students build catapults which fit in one cubic foot and launch racquet balls for distances up to about 50 meters.

Pat Walker Photo

Pat Walker

Patrick E. Walker is partner a in and co-owner of WalkerVision Interarts, and has served as a multi-media expert on the CPU project. Together with family members he consults on design and development of multimedia applications and produces audio and video media for interactive educational and training programs. For the local performing arts community WVI also specializes in high quality live-switched on-location multi-camera video recording. Pat is also a part-time professional singer, and has performed under the top choral directors in the USA for more than thirty years.
      Pat was a senior scientist for twelve years at Horizons Technology, Incorporated, in San Diego, California. From 1988 to 1996, he served as the Product Line Manager for Digital Video Compression and Chief Scientist of the Compression Technology Division. Also, as the Director of Training for HTI, he was the main technical lead for interactive training, hypermedia reference document and multimedia database projects underway at HTI under a variety of government and civilian industry contracts. Initiated by Pat, HTI became one of the original developers using Intel Digital Video Interactive (DVI), and now owns the compression business areas for the Production Level Video (PLV) and the software decoded TrueMotion-S algorithm.

Doctoral Students


Andrew Johnson, UCSD/SDSU

Andy had just started working on his doctorate when the CPU Project began. He has helped develop some of the CPU course materials, and he has been involved in classroom testing of CPU materials at SDSU, including teaching one section of the course. His dissertation research is focused on categorizing the ideas that CPU students develop about magnetic materials, and on identifying and systematizing some of the social and classroom influences on students' conversations which lead to the development of ideas in the classroom. Read about Andy's dissertation research here.

Andy will be graduating soon, and is looking for a job. If you are hiring, or can suggest any leads, please
email, and he will be grateful!

Laura McCullough Photo

Laura McCullough, University of Minnesota

Laura McCullough is currently a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota. She received her M.S. in physics in 1997, with a CPU-related master's project. Laura has been working with Pat Heller and the CPU Project for several years. She has helped develop some CPU curriculum materials, and has helped teach the curriculum several times. Laura is currently working on her doctorate in science education. Her thesis involves adding technology to the introductory calculus-based physics classroom. Visit her home page at

Valerie Otero Photo

Valerie Otero, UCSD/SDSU

Valerie Otero is a doctoral student in physics education in the joint doctoral program in mathematics and science education at UCSD and SDSU. Valerie played a large role in the development of a portion of the CPU unit on Motion and Forces and also in the development and restructuring of parts of the unit on static electricity and magnetism. Valerie's dissertation research focuses on the development of prospective elementary teachers' conceptual models of static electricity. Her research site is the CPU classroom. She is particularly interested in the role of the simulator and the "pedagogical model" or hybrid model that is introduced in this CPU unit in the evolution of students' conceptual models of static electricity. Valerie's expected graduation date is May 1999 at which time she would like to continue her teaching and research. Other research interests include the relationship between prospective teachers' success in CPU classes and their future students carreer choices, studying prospective teachers as they move from student to teacher and their ability and willingness to teach science, and the effect of new approaches to teaching Newtonian mechanics.



Software Designers

Arnie McKinley Photo

Arnold McKinley, MetaMinds, Mill Valley, CA

Long before his addiction to OpenDoc programming, Arni taught Physics and Electrical Engineeering at SDSU and discovered that he loved it. In fact he still loves everything about the academic life and hopes one day to be back in the classroom. In the meantime, Arni has looked diligently for ways to improve science, math and engineering education through the use of computers. Since 1989 he has encouraged the founding of a software development company, Minds In Motion Software, as a vehicle for bringing excellent educational products to this niche market.
      Arni holds two MS degrees in Engineering from Stanford and an MA degree in Buddhist Studies from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He lives in Mill Valley, CA (near San Francisco) with his wife and daughter. Arni can also be reached at (415) 381-8063.


PHYSICON Team, Moscow, Russia

The CPU Project has contracted Physicon Ltd. to develop most of the powerful CPU simulators. Physicon is based in Moscow, Russia. The company develops educational, content and scientific based software in different computer platforms for a variety of international audiences. The Physicon staff is composed of a unique combination of physicists, computer programmers and business managers which allows Physicon to flourish in the software development market.

Other Contributors

Other contributors to the CPU Project include: Joe Faletti, Ilana Gold, Gayle Kirwan, Mike McKean, Brook Smith, and Chance Roth.

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