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Secondary Science: A Proposed Change: A Logical, Coherent & Effective Sequence that has Physics First. Dr. Timothy C. Burgess McGill-Toolen High School Mobile, Alabama. Committee of Ten National Education Association 1892 Recommendations Regarding Physics:.

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secondary science a proposed change a logical coherent effective sequence that has physics first

Secondary Science:A Proposed Change:A Logical, Coherent & Effective Sequencethat has Physics First

Dr. Timothy C. Burgess

McGill-Toolen High School

Mobile, Alabama

committee of ten national education association 1892 recommendations regarding physics
Committee of TenNational Education Association1892Recommendations Regarding Physics:
  • The study of chemistry should precede the study of physics.
  • The study of physics should be pursued the last year of high school.
reasons for traditional biology chemistry physics sequence at turn of century
Reasons for Traditional Biology-Chemistry-PhysicsSequence at Turn of Century

Start with biology because:

  • Relied mostly on memorization
  • Required almost no mathematics
reasons for traditional biology chemistry physics sequence at turn of century4
Reasons for Traditional Biology-Chemistry-PhysicsSequence at Turn of Century

Follow with chemistry because:

  • Relied mostly on memorization and detailed experimental procedures
  • Required only modest amounts of mathematics
reasons for traditional biology chemistry physics sequence at turn of century5
Reasons for Traditional Biology-Chemistry-PhysicsSequence at Turn of Century

Make physics last because:

  • Required greater mathematical fluency
  • Relied heavily on problem solving, analysis, and critical thinking
final reasoning for traditional biology chemistry physics sequence at turn of century in us
Final Reasoning for Traditional Biology-Chemistry-PhysicsSequence at Turn of Century in US

Make physics last because:

  • Prior to 1930’s only students going to college were around in senior year and physics was seen as an “egg head” topic
  • Many students in 9th grade were farmers/hunters in 1880’s who could use biology in practical ways
physics first not a new idea
Physics First: Not a New Idea
  • Physics and the High School Sophomore (Hamilton, 1970)
  • Physics in the Tenth Grade (Sousanis, 1971)
  • The Illogic of Teaching Biology Before Chemistry and Physics (Palombi, 1971)
  • Take Physics to Ninth Graders With Budget Savers (TPT, 1974)
  • High School Physics Should be Taught Before Chemistry and Biology (Haber-Schaim, 1984)
  • Physics Before Chemistry (Bolton, 1987)
  • A Case for a Better High School Science Sequence in the 21st Century (Myers, 1987)
  • Freshman Physics (Hickman, 1990)
  • Effect of Ninth Grade Physics (Glasser, 1999)
haber schaim article
Haber-Schaim Article
  • Average of 23 Chemistry Prerequisites in Biology Textbooks
  • Average of 31 Physics Prerequisites in Chemistry Textbooks
  • No Biology Prerequisites in Physics Textbooks
  • Average of 2 Chemistry Prerequisites in Physics Textbooks
slide9

Nobel Winner on current Secondary Science Sequence: A 19th century person would be overwhelmed by the changes in transport, every technology and in every aspect of life. The only place largely unchanged is in theScience Sequence of our Secondary Schools! -Dr. Leon Letterman[Note: Numerous Nobel winners have signed on to encourage a “Physics 1st” secondary science sequence in US]

slide10

Journal of Chemical Educationon present Secondary Science Sequence: “…biology and then chemistry prior to physics is a curriculum sequence that teaches without understanding, that lends itself to memorization without meaning, and that slows the understanding of biological concepts that require a solid foundation in physics and chemistry.“Dr. Diana Mason- Chemistry Professor

slide11

Biology Teacher Chuck Collison Biology before and after “Physics First”: “this new sequence is fabulous…juniors are much better prepared to deal with biology at the molecular level”Note: Rex Rice reports that Biology teachers “initially resisted the change in sequence “- reported athttp://modeling.asu.edu/listserv/Physics1st-ClaytonHS2_03.pdf

advantages of teaching physics to freshmen hickman 1990
Freshmen are enthusiastic and motivated

Algebra is current in student minds

Science sequence is coherent and sequential

Increased interest in quantitative applications

Enrollment increases in A.P. Sciences

Performance in all A.P. sciences improve

AP Biology can be the first biology course if physics and chemistry have been studied

Advantages of TeachingPhysics to Freshmen(Hickman, 1990)
disadvantages of teaching physics to freshmen hickman 1990
Requires versatile science teachers for transition years

Opposition to change from “proven” sequence by parents, teachers, administrators, school boards

Freshmen are more active, noisier, less coordinated

Measurement and estimation skills are not good

Trigonometry has not been studied

Problems of transition of from middle school to high school level course

Lack of problem solving and test taking skills

Disadvantages of TeachingPhysics to Freshmen (Hickman, 1990)
implementing physics first at mcgill toolen high school
Implementing “Physics First” at McGill-Toolen High School
  • A ¼ Physics class is already in place foreshadowing the concerns about needing physics
  • Strong biological sciences tradition
  • A fourth year of required science in recent years
  • Variety of biology related sciences concurrent with senior level Physics
  • Strong business/industry support for shift to quantitative physical sciences
  • Best students largely ready for Physics-Chemistry-Biology sequence
does 9 th grade physics replace physics in the senior year
Does 9th grade PhysicsReplace Physics in theSenior Year?
  • No! Not the same the goals!
  • Physics in Freshman year is foundation of Science curriculum generating interest & experiences
  • Physics in the Senior year is improved and can now explore a broader range of topics.
  • Physics enrollment in Senior year typically averages about 20 to 25% of the student body.
  • All students get some physics in 9th grade!

-reported by staff of Clayton High School, MO

results
Results
  • Freshman physics makes chemistry more meaningful/understandable
  • Biology teachers ecstatic about changes
  • 100% enrollment in Physics
  • Students, Teachers, Parents, and School Board are happy with the change.
  • A.P. Physics “worked” as a one-year course since students entered with a physics background.
  • More students took two or more A.P. science courses since many were able to take A.P. Biology as a first-year course

- Rice (1998 at Clayton HS, Missouri)

research broadly verified results
Research & BroadlyVerified Results
  • Students study more science and take more challenging science courses
  • Improved scores on standardized tests including AP, SAT II
  • Improved mathematics understanding and achievement
  • Enrollments that are more balanced by gender and race
  • Increased student interest for careers in science, technology, and engineering

-reported by Ewald, Hickman & Myers (2005)

mcgill toolen high school challenges
McGill-Toolen High SchoolChallenges
  • The ONLY Catholic high school in district
  • About 1000 students in grades 9-12
  • Mixed socioeconomic population
  • Mixed academic preparations
  • Regional vocational and professional opportunities in flux
  • New science facilities coming on line (the perfect time for a change?)
keys to success opportunities
KEYS TO SUCCESS& OPPORTUNITIES
  • Teachers formally prepared, trained and confident are required
  • Exposure of the staff to successful programs
  • Unique opportunity to match new sequence with capital improvement!
  • Unique opportunity to correlate topics in theology with science curriculum
slide21

Brother Mathias (McGill-Toolen physics teacher in 1980’s) had something right with his experiment based class:All students are served by a year filled with experiences and opportunities for physical analysis.This proposal is meant to honor that firm belief. The Senior year science course will be a course of interest that requires the use of higher level cognitive skills and reasoning.McGill-Toolen Catholic is in a position toseize opportunities with new facilities and to ALSO be a regional leaderin the reordering of the science curriculum.