Physical Science and Everyday Thinking
Physical Science 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.
Physical Science and Everyday Thinking is adaptable.
The Physical Science 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.
Physical Science and Everyday Thinking is inquiry based.
Physical Science 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.
Physical Science 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
The first chapter introduces students to all of the common themes of course. The concept of interactions is first introduced in the context of “contact push/pull interactions" between rigid objects that are touching and pushing or pulling on each other. Students investigate both interactions that involve involve friction (when the objects' surfaces rub one another) and do not involve friction.
Chapter 2: Interactions and Forces
This chapter introduces students to an alternative framework (that of forces) within which they can explain interactions they first see in Chapter 1 that involve objects pushing or pulling on one another. 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: Interactions and the Behavior of Gases
This chapter introduces the scientists' Small Particle Model (SPM) of matter and applies it to phenomena involving gases, making extensive use of computer simulators that model the behavior of gases on both macroscopic and microscopic scales. They use the simulators to examine the connection between macroscopic mass and volume, and microscopic number density.
Chapter 5: Interactions and Physical Changes
This chapter focuses on physical properties and changes in the context of liquids and solids. Students investigate physical changes at both the macroscopic and microscopic (small particle) scales.
Chapter 6: Interactions and Chemical Changes
This chapter focuses on chemical changes and their particle-level underpinnings, employing both in-class experiments and simulators that model chemical reactions and decomposition on both the macroscopic and microscopic scales.