Physics Boot Camp & Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

written by Mark Greenman

This workshop was presented at the 2011 PhysTEC conference. Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs) provide a pedagogical tool that has been shown to improve college and pre-college student's conceptual understanding of ideas in classical physics.  Teachers in this PD showed fractional gains in concept understanding ranging from .44 to .75 with participants in every comparison group showing strong gains.  Just as encouraging, these gains showed no decay over time.  In this highly interactive presentation findings were presented along with a model of how the Interactive Lecture Demonstration 8-step methodology is used as a tool to both engage and prepare teachers.

Physics First Battles for Acceptance

written by Gabriel Popkin

"Physics First" is a movement that encourages high schools to offer a full-year physics course to ninth-graders, before they take chemistry and biology. Also sometimes called "early high school physics," the "physics-chemistry-biology (PCB)" sequence, or the "cornerstone to capstone (C-to-C) program," Physics First has been gaining momentum as an organized movement of educators and physicists since around 1990, although the concept of teaching physics to ninth-graders goes back several decades before that. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman, Physics First's most prominent proponent, estimates that around 2,000 US high schools have now adopted some version of the program for at least some of their freshmen.

Physics for Elementary Teachers: A New Curriculum

written by Stephen J. Robinson, Fred Goldberg, and Valerie K. Otero

In accordance with the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act of 2002, it will soon be required that all elementary students are assessed in science content by the end of their fifth grade year. It is recognized that few elementary teachers are prepared for this, especially in the physical sciences. Realizing this, many teacher preparation programs are replacing traditional science requirements for pre-service elementary teachers (usually a two semester sequence in any single lab science) with a cluster of one-semester content courses, including one in physics or physical science. Thus university physics departments are increasingly being called upon to implement a course exclusively for this audience. This can be quite a challenge since this is not the audience to which physics courses are traditionally targeted and it is desirable that such a course model the inquiry-based pedagogy that elementary teachers are expected to use in their own classrooms. Further, physics faculty may be unfamiliar with these inquiry-based methods of teaching. The Physics for Elementary Teachers (PET) curriculum has been designed to address this challenge.

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