Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Physics Island

I really love teaching physics. I like the fact that it is so easily relatable to everyday life. I tell my students that after you study physics, you will never see the world the same. Most of them believe that by the end of the year.

But there is a catch:  I teach physics in a small school where there is only one section of the class. We don't have a ton of lab materials, and I have no physics colleagues. In order for a small school like mine to have a physics teacher, they have to hire someone who can also teach other stuff. Enter: Me!

I tend to be more math-focused in my approach to physics. And sadly, I end up putting more energy into my classes that are state-assessed.

I don't think I have done a horrible job teaching physics. I mean, I have had my share of students go on to be successful in physics and engineering careers. One former student landed an internship at Cern physics laboratories in Switzerland.

But I do know that I am a better math teacher than a physics teacher. I also know that I have room for improvement. And it is hard to improve on this island with no colleagues.

Anyway, enough whining already. I do have this thing called the internet. Therefore, there is no excuse for me. The resources are out there, I know it. I must find them.

Next year, I am hoping to make better use of internet resources to kick it up a notch. Elephant List #1. I want more labs, but not just labs for the sake of labs. I want labs that produce "aha" moments for students. I want labs that can be set up with everyday materials. I have laptops, so computer simulations would be okay, too.

This search is long overdue.

If anyone out there has some ideas to help me get started, it would be much appreciated!


  1. In terms of "stuff", I think the Vernier probeware are excellent. You can go a long way just graphing the heck out of everything and having students determine what's going on. Since you have laptops, huzzah!

    Also, I'd recommend these four physics bloggers:

    Shawn Cornally -
    Frank Noschese -
    John Burk -
    Kelly O'Shea -

    They're all on twitter as well.

    There's an elluminate session every Wednesday for physics teachers

  2. Jason, Thank you so much for commenting! I really appreciate it. That definitely gives me a good starting point. Amy