June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
12.1407.1 - 12.1407.19
The Development, Implementation and Assessment of an Engineering Research Experience for Physics Teachers
The Summer Teacher Experience in Packaging- Utilizing Physics (STEP-UP) program at the Georgia Institute of Technology provides a comprehensive research experience for up to ten high school physics teachers per summer. Its objective is to train metro Atlanta high school physics teachers in both modern physics concepts and their applications to engineering as well as their relevance to today’s technology. The program runs successfully through collaboration with the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, microelectronics Packaging Research Center (PRC) (an NSF Engineering Research Center) and the School of Physics. The program has three components: (1) to enables teachers to fully take advantage of their subsequent research experience, a two -week course on modern physics, with a laboratory component is given; (2) a three day module course on applications of modern physics concepts to microelectronics; and (3) a five and a half week summer research experience. Workshops are also held during the teachers stay at Georgia Tech to help them with the development of lesson plans and classroom material derived from their research experience.
Currently in its third year, the program has had 25 participants. Participating teachers have commented on how they have gained confidence in teaching physics and connecting physics to engineering applications and thus have been able to better instill an interest in engineering careers in their students. In order to assess the program’s outcomes, a mixed method approach was used that involved both quantitative and qualitative evaluations. From the assessment results and suggestions offered, new program facets have been added each year. This paper discusses in detail the structure and implementation of the program, and how it impacts the teachers and their students.
A major national educational problem is the lack of interest and low enrollment in science classes, particularly physics, among high school students. There is a vast amount of statistical data on the scope of this problem1,2 indicating two root problems that must be corrected. First, only a fraction of the nation’s physics teachers (~33%) have a degree in physics or physics education3. Other sharp contrasts emerge along geographical lines and racial composition of high schools. In the south, only 24% of physics teachers have a degree in their field4. Contrasting this statistic with the well known result that a thorough knowledge of course material taught in high school physics is essential to good teaching in math and science5,6 underlines a disturbing situation in high school science education in the south. The second problem faced by science education is the ability to motivate students’ interest in these fields. To do this, the relevance of the course material to every day life must be demonstrated. This cannot happen if teachers are unfamiliar with basic concepts in physics, let alone modern applications derived from these principles. It is extremely difficult to encourage curiosity or give a clear understanding of science concepts to students when the teachers themselves are not familiar with basic principles. It is therefore not surprising that physics enrollment is a national problem. This
Conrad, L., & Conrad, E., & Auerbach, J. (2007, June), The Development, Implementation And Assessment Of An Engineering Research Experience For Physics Teachers Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2453
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