Physics and Everyday Thinking


Physics and Everyday Thinking (PET) is a one-semester curriculum designed in part for prospective or practicing elementary teachers. The course uses a student-oriented pedagogy with a physics content focus as well as a unique Learning about Learning component.

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Professional Learning

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A guided-inquiry physics curriculum for pre-service and in-service K-5 teachers.


Unique Learning about Learning Component

Students directly engage in metacognitive activities that allow them to explore how they as students learn science.

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Total Support
for Instructors

In person and online support, educational webinars, lesson modeling, and much more is available from our Professional Learning Team. 

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Curriculum Details

The Physics and Everyday Thinking curriculum has been taught at two-year and four-year institutions; has been adapted for a science methods course in schools of education; and can be offered as a workshop for practicing elementary teachers. In addition, the Elementary Science and Everyday Thinking set of activities have also been developed for elementary school teachers to use in their own classrooms.

Physics and Everyday Thinking is Inquiry-Based

Physics and Everyday Thinking elicits student initial ideas and then provides students with opportunities to acquire evidentiary support, through hands-on activities or computer simulations, that helps them to decide, if appropriate, to develop new or modified ideas.

Physics and Everyday Thinking Includes a Unique Learning about Learning Component

This component of Physics and Everyday Thinking is designed to help students develop an understanding of how scientists develop knowledge, how they learn science themselves, and how others (for example, either elementary school students or other college students) learn science.

This chapter concentrates more on the nature of science as it engages students in a series of activities designed to lead them to a basic domain model of magnetism. After examining the phenomenology of magnetic interactions between magnets and ferromagnetic materials, students propose an initial model for what happens inside a nail when it is magnetized by rubbing with a permanent magnet.

About The

Fred Goldberg is Professor of Physics at San Diego State University. Since the 1980s he has been involved in physics education. Initially, his group studied student understanding in topical areas of physics, and later studied students’ beliefs about physics knowledge and learning. They then focused on developing strategies that addressed student difficulties. Many strategies involved the use of computer technology, including both data acquisition tools and computer simulations. Since the late 1990s, his group has focused on studying how students learn in a technology rich, collaborative learning environment. He has directed or co-directed many large National Science Foundation grants on research on learning, on development of curriculum materials for middle school, high school and college, on preservice teacher education and on professional development for teachers. He has served on several editorial boards, including the American Journal of Physics, The Physics Teacher, and the International Journal of Science Education. In 2003, he was the recipient of the Robert A. Millikan Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers for notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics. For the past several years his main focus has been on developing high quality inquiry-based science curricula for prospective elementary teachers, and working with elementary teachers to promote responsive teaching (attending and responding to the substance of their students’ ideas and thinking).