Forum on Education of the American Physical Society
Snapshot of the Physics Front
Cathy Mariotti Ezrailson
The Physics Front (http://thephysicsfront.org) collection is the physics and physical science online library developed for pre-college teachers within the ComPADRE Digital Library Pathways Project. The Physics Front serves a broad spectrum of users that include new and crossover physics teachers, pre-service as well as in-service teachers of physical science and physics for grades K through 12, teacher preparation instructors in universities as well as students of physics and physical science. Participation in The Physics Front collection also extends to physics departments involved in the preparation of pre-service teachers and the support of in-service teachers and their students.
Objectives for the Physics Front collection include:
Materials within the collection are organized into units which are organized by specific subject and are intended as exemplary examples of web resources for that topic. Resources were included based upon quality of content, ease of use, and alignment with standards and with best practice pedagogy for the teaching of physical sciences. These resources are intended to enrich teachers and their students’ experiences as they learn physics. Example unit elements that can be arranged to build curricula are suggested and activities, labs, lesson plans, simulations, assessments as well as content and curriculum support are also included. Although there are common needs among the various audiences that The Physics Front serves, special care is taken to suggest and organize access to physics resources separately and appropriately for elementary and middle school teachers and their students.
Other materials included in The Physics Front are standards-aligned lesson plans, lab and classroom activities organized by grade level and course type; reference materials with evidence-based pedagogical models to promote and encourage the process of inquiry; comprehensive manuals and other curriculum sets designed to support the new and crossover teacher of physics and physical science at all instructional levels. Recognizing that time can be a scarce commodity for the K-12 teacher, the editorial staff is especially committed to helping to organize resources in an easily accessible format.
The challenges and successes of teaching physics at all levels are shown through example and modeled for the teacher. Additionally, there are online tools to be used to gather, organize and share items in The Physics Front such as the filing cabinet and message board. Users register and create a profile to gain full access to all materials. The filing cabinet is an area that can be used to effectively mentor teachers and/or students and point them toward resources. In addition mentors will be able to upload their best materials, labs, simulations and other creative materials into The Physics Front. The Physics Front editorial staff will review, process and add these exemplary teacher-made materials to the collection.
The Physics Front collection is committed to managing a broad group of digital content by working with other projects and organizations to provide a coherent service greater than the sum of its parts. To help achieve this goal The Physics Front collection will work to comply with the existing national and international projects/standards such as those created by the NSDL, Open Archives Initiative, or federal accessibility guidelines.
The Physics Front is committed to providing the most current resources and up-to-date materials possible in order to enhance physics and physical science teaching at all levels. We are dedicated to improving physics and physical science instruction by providing community-building through our collections. Future updates will include more standards alignment and concordance, links to special topics blogs and webinars as well as new contributions by our new assistant editors. A mentoring project for new teachers is planned as well as a new online mentor-training area.
Cathy Mariotti Ezrailson is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at the University of South Dakota. She received her B.S. in Geology and Comp. Science and Ashland University, her M.S. in Curriculum & Instruction: Science Education from the University of Houston. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction: Physics Education from Texas A&M University. She has taught physics, physical science and science methods courses at the precollege and university levels. She is a former PAEMST Award winner for Texas and a TAMU MALRC Fellow. She has been managing editor of The Physics Front, the precollege collection of ComPADRE, since 2002.