WASHINGTON, October 28, 2021 – The American Institute of Physics’ William F. and Edith R. Meggers Project Award provides up to $25,000 biennially for projects aimed at boosting interest in physics and improving the quality of high school physics education. Two proposals were awarded funding this year.
Teaching Teachers to Integrate Computation in Classrooms
To help educators with computer usage in their STEM classrooms, Brian Lane, Grace Bosse, and Terrie Galanti, from the University of North Florida, will seek to provide the tools and development for high school physics teachers to use more computational skills in their scientific curriculum. Their program, “Computation-Based Professional Development and Activities for High School Physics,” was chosen as a Meggers Project Award winner.
“Many physicists in my generation were ‘thrown into the deep end’ of using computation in graduate school and the professional world,” Lane said. “We had little preparation but high demands for computation. It’s important to me that we narrow that gap for today’s students by providing them scaffolded learning experiences and introducing computation early in their STEM education.”
To help teachers integrate computational skills in their classroom, Lane said their program would provide professional development for educators focused on computation-based activities in high school physics classes.
With their award of $12,500, they plan to partner with Duval County Public Schools in Florida to implement, test, and access the effectiveness of their program, including exploring the relationships between development of student attitudes toward physics, student attitudes toward computation in physics, and participation in computational activities.
“I’ve made computation a priority in my own teaching for several years, including on my educational YouTube channel, Let’s Code Physics,” Lane said. “I’m excited to get to expand these efforts with our high school partners.”
Changing Math Sequence to Create High School Data Courses
From the 1950s and 1960s, math programs in high school featured algebra to calculus. While those were emphasized during the Space Race of the times, students, parents, and teachers of today see the need for changes in instruction to better suit the times.
Richelle Teeling-Smith, from the University of Mount Union, and Chris Orban, from The Ohio State University, want to create a new curriculum that features a data science course based on physical-science informed ideas. Their $12,500 award will create materials to be used in physics, astronomy, and earth sciences, and highlight computational thinking and data processing tools for “The STEMcoding High School Data Science Curriculum” program.
The work is an outgrowth of the STEMcoding Project, which began in 2017 with the launch of the STEMcoding YouTube channel and summer teacher professional development.
“With the STEMcoding project, we have been developing computational activities for the physics curriculum for years, and we are very passionate about expanding this work to include the growing field of data science,” Teeling-Smith said. “As physics teachers and physicists, we train our students to think critically and to think computationally, so in many ways, this is about recontextualizing what we already do in the physics classroom. We’re thrilled to have received this year’s Megger’s Award from AIP that will allow us to pursue this work.”
Teeling-Smith and Orban anticipate the use of widely accessible classroom tools, like Excel or Google Sheets, will be of particular interest to schools who serve socioeconomically underprivileged student populations. The proposed curriculum is intended to serve as a vehicle for technical training and potential industry certification that students can utilize whether they go directly into the workforce or on to higher education.
The objective of the William F. and Edith R. Meggers Project Award is to support projects at the high school level designed to raise the level of interest in physics and boost the quality of physics education. The award is presented every two years by AIP and provides monetary support to the recipients.
About American Institute of Physics
The American Institute of Physics (AIP) is a 501(c)(3) membership corporation of scientific societies. AIP pursues its mission—to advance, promote, and serve the physical sciences for the benefit of humanity—with a unifying voice of strength from diversity. In its role as a federation, AIP advances the success of its Member Societies by providing the means to pool, coordinate, and leverage their diverse expertise and contributions in pursuit of a shared goal of advancing the physical sciences in the research enterprise, in the economy, in education, and in society. In its role as an institute, AIP operates as a center of excellence using policy analysis, social science, and historical research to promote future progress in the physical sciences.
American Institute of Physics