Editor selections by Topic and Unit

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Physical Sciences K-8: Digital Collections: Physics and Physical Science Units

ComPADRE is a consortia of related physics and astronomy materials offered by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and supported through the National Science Foundation through an NSDL Pathways Grant. Please browse our collection and its many links or visit the PSRC and the other ComPADRE collections.

Units are not listed in a prescribed order.

  Physics Textbooks (1)

References and Collections:

This web site contains a free textbook for a non-mathematical Conceptual Physics course aimed at high school or beginning college students.   The author adopts a modern approach to understanding physics revolving around the concepts of symmetry and conservation laws.  Specific topics include Conservation of Mass and Energy, Conservation of Momentum, Relativity, Electricity and Fields, The Ray Model of Light, and Waves.

  Online Resource Collections (7)

Lesson Plans:

This website offers lesson plans on more than 70 demonstrations for use in introductory physics classrooms.  All demos have been fully tested in the classroom and were selected for inclusion because they are enjoyable, thought- provoking, and require minimal set-up.  Historical anecdotes and commentary add to the depth of this unique resource.

This page contains links to K-8 lesson plans classified by grade level.  Each lesson and unit was authored by a teacher whose school participates in the Core Knowledge Project, established to build academic excellence through specific, shared core curriculum.  Some of the units are cross-curricular and cross-grade in their design, and each has been reviewed by a team of content experts at the Core Knowledge Foundation.


This collection, written by a high school physics teacher, contains detailed lesson plans for more than 50 hands-on labs on the topics of safety, measurement, mechanics, sound and light, and electricity.  Activities include reproducible data record sheets, student work assignments, and short-answer queries.   Labs are also organized into a week-by-week block plan to aid beginning teachers with a context for using each activity.

References and Collections:

This unique resource is a large collection of capsule reviews of material covered in introductory physics. The subjects are organized in flow charts that make it easy to move from one topic to a related one.

This resource is an educator's guide that integrates the Learning Cycle pedagogical model with activities for the high school physical science classroom.  Each activity includes a series of questions with information and tips for the instructor. Topics range from mass and density through Newton's laws and electricity, to heat and light.

This collection offers well-organized sets of java simulations relating to physics for high school classroom use.  The subjects include mechanics, waves, electricity, optics, thermodynamics, relativity, atoms, and nuclear physics.  The simulations are designed to be easily manipulated by high school students.

This NSF-sponsored collection provides instructions for 24 inquiry-based high school physics labs available for free download.  Topics include Mechanics, Waves, E&M, and Optics.  The materials on Atomic Force Microscopy and Resistance of Atomic Wires are among the few web-based resources on nanophysics designed specifically for high school students.

  The Scientific Process (2)


If you are concerned that your students may be missing the excitement, curiosity, inspiration, and passion that characterize the scientific endeavor, this web site is a must-see. You will find a great interactive tutorial taking an initial idea through hypothesis, control of variables, data collection, and communication of ideas. Kids will get a feel for the very fluid and dynamic nature of science as they learn the language of the scientific process. Teachers: look for the related lesson plans and printable wall posters.

References and Collections:

Want to get your students genuinely excited about how science is practiced by real people? The Physics Front editors highly recommend this set of modules for secondary science classrooms. The unit consists of 15 sections, including how to design a good experiment, manipulate variables, recognize bias, collect and interpret data, error/uncertainty, and how to clearly communicate findings.