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Physics Education Open House on Oct. 16 Part of PhysTEC Funding

Published: October 15, 2010

Because of the high caliber of its physics and science education programs, CSULB recently was selected as one of five additional U.S. universities to receive funding from the National Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) to increase the number of graduates earning degrees and teaching credentials in physics or physical sciences.

The CSULB PhysTEC project will host a free open house for middle and high school physics teachers from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, in CSULB’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, Peterson Hall 1, Room 141. Teachers are invited to bring two students to hear guest speakers and participate in learning activities.

Biology and chemistry continue to be the most popular science subjects taught in U.S. schools, while physics and physical sciences lag behind, leaving a gap in the number of future scientists and teachers in these areas. Moreover, some school physics teachers didn’t major or minor in the subject.

That’s why the PhysTEC was created nine years ago as a collaborative program of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) with support from the American Institute of Physics (AIP). PhysTEC funding comes from a five-year, $6.5 million National Science Foundation grant and the APS 21st Century Campaign.

The CSULB PhysTEC project is aimed at area high schools and community college students who are interested in teaching physics, along with current school science teachers who want to improve their physics teaching capabilities, said Professor Chuhee Kwon of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She is one of three co-principal investigators along with Physics Professor Galen Pickett and Science Education Department Chair Laura Henriques, a former high school physics teacher.

CSULB expects to receive more than $287,000 over three years that will support a variety of activities, Kwon said. Student participants will be known as PhysTEC Scholars, and two new classes are being added. A junior-level physics class is designed for students to explore physics teaching in a supportive environment through tutoring other students, serving as CSULB physics lab assistants, and observing local high school physics classes. A senior-level course will focus on students who have committed to become physics teachers as well as help current science teachers become more proficient in physics. This class will have a different topic each semester and can be taken multiple times.

PhysTEC also supports a teacher-in-residence (TIR), selected each year to co-instruct both classes and meet with physics student groups. CSULB’s first TIR is Rod Ziolkowski, Science Department chair at Whitney High School in Cerritos.

The CSULB PhysTEC project aims to build a physics teaching community that partners CSULB physics and science education faculties, high school teachers and physics students.

To register for the open house or learn more about CSULB’s PhysTEC program, visit the project website or call Kwon at 562/985-4855.

–Anne Ambrose