Thursday, November 18, 2004

New Physics

I like your ideas about teaching physics from big to small -- I think that makes much more sense than breaking physics up into all these historically separate areas. I have had some other ideas like teaching physics as a "how things work" class. Picking 10 or 20 things that we want to understand how they work and through that learning all the physics we would have anyways, but in a (hopefully) more meaningful and engaging way. Like, how does an airplane fly? How do CD's store music? All kinds of questions would work. Or Physics I could all be taught in a certain context like baseball, or hockey. But I worry about just picking one context since it won't really work for those non-athletic type students (I think?)

First I think I, or my department, has to come to a consensus first about the purpose of the physics classes. Is physics a tool (a hammer) to be used in other science classes? Is it learning how to solve set sorts of problems? Or is it beginning to understand the world around us? How to investigate it? How to figure things out? Maybe we can do this at our retreat! After the ropes course and before the hot chocolate.

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