Grad student, prof reach out to high school physics teachers

Most people probably don’t give it a lot of thought, but physics plays a major role in their everyday lives, according to graduate student Theresa Spanjers. However, teaching its more daunting modern concepts at the high school level can be a challenging task, even for some of the best educators.

That’s why Spanjers, along with physics professors Chitra Rangan, developed a package of new resource materials they’re making available on line for Grade 11 and 12 science teachers to introduce some of the tougher concepts to their students in a more understandable way.

Focus On Reaching Curricular Expectations (FORCE) Physics Lesson Packs contain easy-to-use teaching materials that target specific provincial science curriculum objectives dealing with non-traditional topics. Designed to be covered over one or two 80-minute class periods, they include a PowerPoint presentation, teaching notes, supporting handouts, suggested classroom activities and a lesson plan.

“It’s a resource that will help teachers introduce more modern physics concepts like quantum mechanics and relativity,” said Spanjers, who besides earning a Master’s degree in physics, also has a B.Ed degree behind her name, as well as this year’s Graduate Assistant/Teaching Assistant (GATA) educational leadership award.

“Some teachers might not feel adequately prepared to teach these subjects in depth, but you can introduce them at a conceptual level,” she added.

Dr. Rangan said the lesson packs are a nice addition the resources the university already provides to high school science teachers in the form of student-generated, multi-media web modules.

Spanjers and Rangan presented the materials – which were produced with support from the Leddy Library and the Centre for Teaching and Learning – at the Science Teacher's Association of Ontario conference in Toronto last Saturday and said they received a lot of positive feedback.

“There was a lot of interest from the teachers who were there,” said Spanjers. “They said they thought it would be very useful to them.”

The team has created a web site where teachers can download the lesson plans for free, as well as provide constructive feedback on how to improve the materials.

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