A quick look at the benchmark statements reveals the importance of mathematical modelling in physics education. It forms an essential part of any degree programme. Yet there is more to modelling than mathematics. Recently cognitive science has come together with the philosophy of science to suggest that modelling is a very normal activity and that modelling in science is essentially no different. In other words, scientific modelling is little more than an extension of the commonplace.
This puts modelling at the heart of science, especially physics. Given the prevalence of modelling in modern practice of physics perhaps this is where, intuitively, we might think it belongs. This then raises the question whether modelling should be taught as an explicit activity rather than simply as the application of mathematics to the physical world
Modelling as practiced by professional physicists is almost exclusively centred on creating, testing, and applying mathematical or computational models of physical phenomena, but in education models can be conceptual as well as mathematical. Fostering conceptual understanding is notoriously difficult, but conceptual models based on qualitative reasoning can be used to promote not only a scientific way of thinking but also a deeper understanding of difficult concepts.
This meeting will look at modelling in physics education. Topics covered will include the nature of models and modelling, the importance of qualitative reasoning, the role of mathematics, and the cognitive science of thinking and reasoning with models, including the potential to promote a deeper understanding of physics through modelling. Examples of different modelling practices within physics education will also be given. Anyone interested in contributing should contact firstname.lastname@example.org"