THREE KEY INSIGHTS PROFESSIONALS KNOW ABOUT LINKING EFFECTIVE PHYSICS TEACHING TO THE NSW SYLLABUS AND THE AUSTRALIAN CURRICULUM (K-6)
Here are your three key insights from me, Marti Ellen, a Stanford University science professional with 28 years of experience teaching physics to young children. I am the author of two international award-winning children’s physics books (“Primary Physics: the Principles Behind Leonardo’s Science” Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards (2007) and “Primary Physics: the Principles Behind Roman Machines” Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards (2012). Both of these books are the official companion books of Teknoart International Exhibitions.). For 15 years, I have been working closely with the former head of the School of Physics at the University of Sydney, Emeritus Professor Richard Collins, who carefully reviews the “Primary Physics” series that I produce through Sunshine Educational Pty Ltd. “Primary Physics” has received international attention from “Physics Today”, the online journal of the American Institute of Physics and has also appeared in online publications including “Science Education News”, “Book Dealers World”, “The Giggle Guide”, and “Midwest Book Review”.
I hold some key insights that I would like to share with you on learning about the teaching and application of physics. I know that teaching it by using a hands-on, step-by-step pathway is the way kids will digest it and teachers will enjoy teaching it. Physics will be the fun and exciting part of the day for both you and your students.
Current emphasis on literacy and numeracy means your time and resources for science are inadequate, and you often struggle to fit sufficient science learning into an inequitable science time allotment. Limited resources available to plan and teach physics topics mean that you are stretching yourself to the limit to satisfy the Australian Curriculum or your state curriculum. You’ve got your back against the wall in being able to figure out how to deliver the physics outcomes in a way that’s clear and simple and enjoyable for your students.
Here are my 3 Key Insights:
- When you present physics formally to children, you need to introduce a sequence of activities that leads them to consciously discover what has come instinctively up to this point. Children are constantly investigating the laws of the physical world. From the time they recognize the force of gravity when dropping spoons off high chairs, learning about the centre of mass when they learn to walk, and the properties of mass of their toys (banging and pulling them apart), they are carrying out investigations and observations, and doing so by repetition.
- Observe your students to see what they are already trying to figure out. Your job is an easy one if you watch what your students are already investigating. You then support children to continue with their innate curiosity and direct their natural desire to investigate. This is the good part: there is nothing ‘hard’ about getting them to do what they are already trying to do. Go with the flow!
- Do experiments that are relevant to children and at a level where they can achieve genuine understanding of the principles involved. Start with the building blocks of physics: mass, energy and forces. They are the “ABC’s” of science. They are simple, familiar and relevant. Investigation of mass, energy and forces will provide the necessary experience for students to acquire a genuine and long-term understanding of the laws of the physical world. (Note: Dazzling children by doing science experiments and demonstrations that blow things up or cause effects which young children cannot fully understand is entertainment, not learning. They may also contribute to the false perception that science is “hard” or “difficult to understand”. Such demonstrations have a place later on to extend the curiosity of children who already understand the basic principles.)
Fill in your details in the form below and in a couple of days, you will receive an important email from me. It will contain a complimentary and invaluable tool for teaching physics in primary school. A topic-by-topic, outcome-by-outcome, stage-by-stage evaluation of how “Primary Physics” satisfies each outcome of the NSW Syllabus and Australian Curriculum. As soon as you receive it, I want you to open it up, have a look through it, and familiarize yourself with the overall picture of how “Primary Physics” can help you solve your planning problems. You will be impressed with the extent to which “Primary Physics” fulfils the curriculum.
“Primary Physics” books are the solution to applying these three key insights.