Learning Physical Science
Learning Physical Science is a one-semester curriculum with a student-oriented pedagogy designed to enable students to develop a deep understanding of the conceptual themes of energy, forces, and the atomic-molecular theory of matter and is suitable for a large lecture hall environment or a small enrollment class with no mandatory lab component. The course is designed in part for prospective elementary teachers.
Learning Physical Science includes unique components.
Learning Physical Science is designed to help students develop an understanding of important aspects of scientific thinking and the nature of science. It also include lessons about how students learn science themselves and how others (for example, either elementary school students or other college students) learn science.
Learning Physical Science is inquiry based.
Learning Physical Science elicits student initial ideas and then provides students with opportunities to acquire evidentiary support that helps them to decide, if appropriate, to develop new or modified ideas.
Learning Physical Science is adaptable.
The Learning Physical Science curriculum has been taught and field tested 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 has also been developed for elementary school teachers to use in their own classrooms.
Unit 1: Interactions and Energy
In Unit 1 students learn about various types of interactions and how to describe them in terms of both source/receiver and input/output energy diagrams. Students' also learned to represent and interpret the motion of objects with speed-time graphs. Near the end of the unit students learn about the law of conservation of energy and how to calculate the efficiency of devices.
Unit 2: Interactions and Forces
In Unit 2 students develop ideas that relate the motion of an object to the forces acting on it. These ideas are supported by the evidence they see in the demonstrations shown by their instructor and should be closely aligned with the ideas that scientists develop after considering experimental evidence. Students learn how to represent the forces acting on an object using a force diagram, and how to relate their force ideas to the energy ideas they learned in Unit 1.
Unit 3: Interactions and Potential Energy
In Unit 3 students develop ideas about action-at-a-distance interactions and see examples of three such interactions. They learn how to describe these interactions both in terms of the forces that interacting objects exert on each other, and in terms of the energy transfers and changes that occur, during these interactions. Students also learn how the idea of a ‘field of influence’ is useful in both force and energy descriptions of these interactions. Additionally, they learn about a simple model that can be used to think about electric charge interactions.
Unit 4: Small Particle Theory of Gases
In Unit 4 students learn about the macroscopic quantities of pressure and temperature and the small particle theory of gases, which helps connect the observable macroscopic quantities to their microscopic explanations.
Unit 5: Small Particle Theory of Liquids and Solids
In Unit 5 students develop ideas about chemical changes through macroscopic, microscopic (Atomic Molecular Theory) and energy perspectives. These ideas are supported by the evidence they see in the demonstrations shown by their instructor and in other tasks they complete, and should be closely aligned with the ideas that scientists develop considering experimental evidence.
Unit 6: Interactions and Chemistry
In Unit 6 students develop ideas about chemical changes through macroscopic, microscopic (Atomic Molecular Theory) and energy perspectives. These ideas are supported by the evidence they see in the demonstrations shown by their instructor and in other tasks they complete, and should be closely aligned with the ideas that scientists develop considering experimental evidence.