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Physics

CWU PhysTEC

Why become a physics teacher?

The U.S. faces a critical shortage of qualified physics and physical science teachers. Two-thirds of new physics teachers lack a physics degree, and over 90% of middle school physical science students are taught by teachers without a physical science major or certification. In fact, in 2013, the National Task Force on Teacher Education reported that "the need for qualified physics teachers is greater now than at any previous time in U.S. history." Watch the video below to help you capture the physics teaching spirit.

CWU Pathways to Becoming a Physics Teacher

There are many pathways to becoming a physics teacher. Our highlighted pathway, the Physics/Math Teaching Dual Degree Program, is highlighted below. The other ways are as follows. Be sure to visit the Teacher Certification webpage for  information about general certification requirements. The first four pathways require coursework in the Professional Education Program.

  • Physics/Math Teaching Dual Degree Program: Good for students interested in both physics and math teaching are are willing to attend school a little longer to earn two majors.
  • Physics BA: Good for students interested primarily in teaching physics.
  • General Science Teaching Major with a physics emphasis: Good for students interested in teaching interdisciplinary science or teaching in a smaller school.
  • Physics Minor: Good for students primarily interested in teaching in another science or math field but maintain an interest in physics.
  • Alternative Certification Program: Good for students with a bachelor's degree in physics or a physics-related field who are interested in working in a district with a physics teacher shortage.

Here is a simple one page overview of the pathways

Physics/Math Teaching Dual Degree Program

Through a partnership with the Science Education department and the Department of Mathematics, we have developed a dual-degree physics and math teaching program in which well-prepared students can complete a BA in physics with certification and a BA in Teaching Secondary Mathematics in five years or fewer. Students who are interested in this program should talk to Bruce Palmquist (palmquis@cwu.edu) to start developing a degree plan. Here is a sample plan to use as a starting point only. Be sure to visit the Teacher Certification webpage for  information about general certification requirements.

Sample plan for the Physics/Math Education Dual Degree

Announcements

  • Interested in using CWU physics teaching expertise? Contact the CWU-SPS Club or CWU Astronomy Club to discuss building equipment, developing curriculum, or putting on educational programs to meet your needs. You may find an appropriate resource on the Build it/Leave it/Teach it page or the Workshop presentations below.

Physics and Astronomy Teacher Workshop Presentations

Presentations from teacher workshops about physics or astronomy teaching activities, equipment, or theory.

Main TopicsWorkshop Description and linkAudiencePresenterYear
Physics teaching, case study

One-hour workshop about how to write interrupted case studies for use in high school and introductory college physics classes

Presentation

High school or college science instructorsBruce Palmquist, Professor of Physics and Science Ed2013
Astronomy teaching, telescope use

One day workshop about how to set-up and use an Astroscan telescope as well as use of many free online astronomy resources

Presentation

Upper elementary, middle school or high school teachersBruce Palmquist, Professor of Physics and Science Ed2013
Physics teaching, writing activities

One-hour workshop about how to write hypothesis testing activities to accompany the interactive online simulations found at http://phet.colorado.edu/.

Presentation

Middle school, high school or college science instructorsBruce Palmquist, Professor of Physics and Science Ed2012
Science teaching, citizen science projects

Two day workshop on how to use citizen science projects to teach science, either in a classroom or informal education setting

Presentation

Upper elementary, middle school or high school teachersBruce Palmquist, Professor of Physics and Science Ed2012


 

Physics Teaching Video

(If the embedded video does not shop up below, click here.)

Helpful Resources