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Physics First

  1. May 8, 2015 #1

    symbolipoint

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    Physics First, instead of the typically required Earth Science and Biology -
    Good idea, but for which students? For everybody, or just for those with enough Algebra and Trigonometry qualifications?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_M._Lederman
     
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  3. May 8, 2015 #2

    robphy

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  4. Jul 10, 2016 #3
    I think all students should be required to take at least a basic physics course. I actually taught a physics based course to 9th graders last year. Unfortunately, even basic algebra skills are a prerequisite -- and at least in TN many students take this course lacking those skills. So, my vote is a life sciences course in 9th grade and physics anywhere beyond.
     
  5. Jul 10, 2016 #4

    symbolipoint

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    That is why schools (secondary and earlier?) want students to first do Earth Science and Biology. Less requirements for Mathematics needed. The college prep students who have enough Algebra... can include Physics or Chemistry.
     
  6. Sep 2, 2016 #5
    As a Physics teacher I like the idea of learning Maths adequately before Physics. I came to the conclusion after I started teaching an AP Physics student. I was amazed that he did not do Physics before. When I started tutoring him I found his Algebra skills are making things so much easier. Even I love to teach in such a situation. All these years I found students struggling with simple equations when they try to solve numerical questions in Physics.
     
  7. Sep 30, 2016 #6
    It is interesting that this issue ( Physics First) is still a matter of debate in our educational systems. It is also interesting that there is not more discussion in the forum on this issue. Where are all the educators in this forum? That said however even the link to the AAPT in the link cited above has surprisingly little info on physics first programs or research.


    Nobel laureate Leon Lederman in an editorial in Physics Today in 1995 reintroduced the concept of teaching physics first for the US educational system which officially dates back to 1985 (The Physics Teacher, Haber-Schaim) He noted that this idea was largely practiced in Europe and Asia at that time with a smattering of programs in the US.some going back to 1967. As we know today this concept still struggle in most schools.( see for example http://discussionphysics.blogspot.com/2012/06/one-short-lived-pf-program-cautionary.html ).

    It seems that this is the first thread directly addressing this idea. I'm very surprised.

    Issues in the lack of progress in implementing physics first seem to include lack of proper math preparation of the students, lack of an acceptable lesson plan, lack of properly trained teacher, lack of teachers, lack of cooperation/coordination in the science programs, concern of or lack of confidence parents of their child's performance and the schools judgment in implementing this program.

    Lederman is(was) a proponent of the unwatered down approach to teaching physics and not of conceptual physics. He proposed that the the courses be taught as a science sequence i.e. Science I, Science II, ...With physics emphasized in the first course. The courses would occasionally deviate back and forth on various topics to make connections between the various disciplines. He was energized in his editorial by the fact that New York City and Chicago were going to implement a three year science and math requirement for HS graduation.

    Lederman in his editorial noted that even with such groups as the National Science Teachers Association and the Teacher Academy of Math and Science in Chicago studying the issue the progress ihas been "glacially slow". It still seem so.

    For one educators experience initiating a physics first program see http://myphysicsfirst.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2015-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2016-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=16 [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  8. Sep 30, 2016 #7

    vela

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    It seems like replacing the existing science curriculum with physics first at the NYC school was a mistake. Without buy-in from school administrators, teachers, parents, and students, the program was bound to fail. Offering the traditional route and the physics-first route concurrently and letting students and parents choose might, at least in the beginning, result in classes where students are more receptive to the different method of instruction.
     
  9. Sep 30, 2016 #8
    That would seem like a possibility but it might require more teaching hours for some currently overworked teacher or hiring another teacher. It still would entail some interdepartmental cooperation (buy ins). So there would still be hurdles. However, students actually choosing this course might not be as onerous a task as we might think. Motivated students are a lot easier to teach. This approach would still loose the capable students who for what ever reason do not select the course to loose the opportunity to be "enlightened" by the experience and choose a non science path say in " law school, or worse if that can be imagine" notes Lederman.
     
  10. Dec 22, 2016 #9
    I believe the best order is general science, then biology, chemistry, and finally physics, because we would then be going in the order of mathematical difficulty.
     
  11. Dec 23, 2016 #10
    Back in the 1980s I recall taking a good physical science course in 9th grade which included about as much physics as most of the class could handle being in Algebra 1 concurrently. Lots of quantitative problem solving, but mostly with three letter formulas, little vectors, and few multistep problems. This may be the closest thing the US can implement broadly.

    We did the same thing with our sons in their home school program, but in the 8th grade since they had Algebra 1 in 7th. It worked well, circling back to a more complete physics in the 11th grade (as much as is possible without Calculus).
     
  12. Dec 23, 2016 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    I was talking about this with Leon a while a long ago - it must have been in the early 90's or so. I pointed out that three years is six semesters, so you could gain many of the advantages and reduce the disadvantages by having it bio-chem-physics-bio-chem-physics, with the second sequence being more advanced and building on the first. As you can see, he didn't much care for the idea.
     
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