PHYS 123 :: Physics Illinois :: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Course Description


This is an inquiry based physics class designed for students with little to no physics or mathematics background who are interested in developing a conceptual understanding of the world around them. The class is ideally suited for elementary education students seeking to improve their understanding of the physical science concepts stressed by the K-4 content standards.

Course Structure

Inquiry-based hands-on lab

The lab session will introduce the week's concepts and will lead students through a series of inquiry based hands-on exercises designed to facilitate conceptual understanding. As much as possible, these exercises will also be designed to illustrate methods of explaining the same material to K-4 students.

Before the lecture-discussion, students will work on brief web based conceptual exercises designed to confront their understanding of the material covered in discussion. They will also use the web to provide feedback to the instructor about concepts they still find confusing and to pose any questions that arise.

Web-based exercises, lecture and discussion

Using the web-based information provided by the students, the instructor will design the Thursday lecture-discussion to address any remaining conceptual difficulties. Through the use of numerous fun and interesting demonstrations, the lecture-discussion will also provide some insight into everyday phenomena that relate to that week's concepts.

Each student will assemble their own hands on equipment as needed for each weeks inquiry based lab, and will take these home and use them when doing the web-based homework exercises. At the end of the semester each student will end up with their own collection of hands on experiments, which is theirs to keep. Since these will be assembled from inexpensive every-day materials (rubber bands, rulers, paper clips etc), they will be appropriate for later use by the students in their own elementary school classrooms.