Department of Physics, Chair
The Elon University Department of Physics recognizes that the future of our discipline hinges on improving the interest in physics in K-12 grades, which in turn hinges on having more qualified teachers of physics. The department has therefore undertaken to do its part in improving the state of physics teacher education.
1) We have established a Noyce Scholars program to award $44,000 scholarships to juniors and seniors that receive licensure to teach high school science or math. We also offer summer internships to offer science majors the opportunity to try teaching.
2) We have expanded a popular "Astronomy Teaching Assistant" program into a "Physics and Astronomy Learner Assistant" program to give physics majors and non-majors experience in teaching.
3) We have recruited a new faculty member in the School of Education to oversee high school teacher training and to coordinate with departments.
4) We have begun an informal system of lab equipment loans to local high school teachers. This includes equipment training on-campus for teachers by Elon faculty and staff.
5) We have twice updated the Physics Bachelor of Arts requirements to offer more flexibility for pre-service high school teachers, allowing them to take courses covering earth sciences, a required class for all high school students in our state.
6) Elon University has developed a summer academy for local high school students, which will involve Elon faculty and high school teachers co-teaching classes. Our department takes part in the project by offering enrichment programs to increase interest in physics and engineering among the participants.
7) Our department regularly hosts the North Carolina Section Meeting of the AAPT, featuring a plenary panel discussion on physics jobs, with emphasis on teaching as a career option.
8) All physics classes are taught with the goal of high student engagement, and use methodologies that have been documented to work through physics education research.
While implementing these and other measures to improve physics teacher preparation and outreach, we seek support from the PTEC coalition in reviewing our course offerings in light of the types of skills future teachers require.