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.
Physics and Everyday Thinking is adaptable.
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.
Chapter 1: Interactions and Energy
This chapter introduces students to all of the common themes of the course, in particular the themes of interactions between objects and the energy description of interactions.
Chapter 2: Interactions and Forces
This chapter introduces students to an alternative framework (that of forces) within which they can explain the same contact interactions they first saw in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 is written to explicitly address common misconceptions many students hold about the nature of forces and their connection to the motion of an object.
Chapter 3: Interactions and Systems
This chapter introduces students to the ideas of “fields of influence" mediating interactions that can occur over a distance, specifically the magnetic, electric charge and gravitational interactions. The concept of potential energy is also introduced.
Chapter 4: Model of Magnetism
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.
Chapter 5: Electric-Circuit Interactions
This chapter introduces students to electric circuit interactions and how to describe electric circuits in terms of energy and current.
Chapter 6: Light Interactions
This chapter introduces students to light interactions. Students examine the interaction of light with mirrors, eyes, transparent objects, white and black objects, and objects of different colors.