FEd April 1996 Newsletter - Powerful Ideas in Physical Science

April 1996



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Powerful Ideas in Physical Science: A Model Course

Editor's note: The following is taken in large part from the Web pages of the AAPT (http://www.aapt.org). Readers are referred to this site and connected sites for more information about this course and about the AAPT itself.

Powerful Ideas is a new and effective teaching tool for college and university faculty who instruct prospective elementary teachers and non-science majors in physical science phenomena concepts. The materials are published in a three ring binder and include instructor materials, ready-to-copy transparencies, student materials and homework. The student materials are available in both hard copy and electronic format to facilitate adoption to your particular teaching situation. This course was developed by the American Institute of Physics and the American Association of Physics Teachers under a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Beginning from the premise that students arrive in the classroom with their own ideas about the physical world, the course allows the learner to critically examine these conceptions through a set of interesting activities and experiences. The activities engage students in both individual and collaborative activities which elicit their own existing conceptions, allow students to test these ideas against observable events using everyday materials, and inspire students to decide on more effective explanations or models when events often do not match predictions based on these original conceptions.

Five units are provided:

  1. Constructing Your Course
  2. Light and Color
  3. Electricity
  4. Heat and Conservation of Energy
  5. Nature of Matter

The AAPT is sponsoring Summer Faculty Enhancement workshops on Powerful Ideas in Physical Science, where faculty can learn more about this model and collaborate with other colleagues in adapting it to their own course needs. Although it is too late to apply for the June workshop at Mississippi State University, interested faculty should watch for announcements of next summer's workshops, for which funding from NSF is anticipated.

For more information about Powerful Ideas, contact:

Cliff Sheppard
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 20740-3845