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Selling Kids/Admin on HS Physics

  1. May 3, 2012 #1
    I'm going to begin teaching chemistry and physics at a small rural high school this fall. I would like to increase enrollment in physics which, according to the administration, has been barely making it as an offered course. What can I do to turn this into a leading physics program?
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  3. May 4, 2012 #2

    Andy Resnick

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    There's no 'magic formula'- hopefully you will see a steady increase over time. First question- do you know (as opposed to presume) why enrollment is low? Second question- what are you prepared to do? For example, are you willing to call individual students (and their parents) and try to convince them to take your class?
  4. May 4, 2012 #3
    I only presume why its not being taken. Its a small school. The high school has an enrollment of 350, with 47 graduating last year. Student/teacher ratio is 12. Its a farming community and perhaps that's why people are interested in biology. They have not had a physics teacher there before. I was just hired so haven't got much details there.

    I'm certainly willing to call individual parents if that's considered effective. The school is also the center of the community so I was thinking of doing a "physics night" demonstrations type of thing some night open to the public. I could perhaps get some demo equipment from my university.

    Another thing I could aim for is implementing the "physics first" program. Surrounding districts have adopted it and I had experience with it during my student teaching. I suppose I really don't know the logistics/burden it causes (on the admin) to do it.

    They have also not been doing Science Olympiad in the past, so I could perhaps use that as a way to promote physics.

    I was just wondering if people have ever been in the same boat and did something that happened to be extremely effective.
  5. May 7, 2012 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    I haven't done anything that specifically relates to your situation, but improving the visibility and quality of physics instruction is something that I and many others here do, so maybe there's sufficient overlap.

    I *really* like your idea of 'Physics Night'- and it may be easier if you make it 'Science Night' so that the other science teachers will help out, and open it up for as many grade levels as possible.

    One suggestion- instead of trying to 'lure folks away from biology and over to physics', a better strategy may be to 'go to them'- show students who are interested in biology how many biological processes can be understood in terms of the relevant physics: blood pressure and the cardiovascular system in terms of fluid flow and partial pressures, for example. Another example- photosynthesis is an incredibly complex process that involves (AFAIK) quantum mechanics to understand.

    In any case, please share any tips and successes with us- good luck!
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