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Welcome to Physics by Inquiry: A Video Resource

We invite you to step inside this summer institute to see teachers from around the country as they work toward deepening their understanding of what it means to learn and teach science by inquiry.

Two students working on a physics problemThis lively video takes viewers inside the six-week NSF Summer Institute in Physics and Physical Science for Inservice Teachers conducted by the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington. Through carefully sequenced questions and experiments, K-12 teachers are guided in constructing some of the basic concepts required to teach K-12 science effectively. Viewers can observe the process of guided inquiry as it unfolds.

Two students working on a physics problemThis 90-minute videotape is an introduction to Physics by Inquiry, a laboratory-based curriculum developed by Professor Lillian C. McDermott and the Physics Education Group. These materials have been designed on the basis of more than 25 years of research on the learning and teaching of physics. The curriculum has been extensively tested at the University of Washington and at other colleges and universities.

TOPICS: The video features teachers engaged in discussions with the instructors and with one another as they develop important scientific concepts and reasoning skills. Through direct experience, they begin to recognize and resolve some of the difficulties that are commonly encountered in the study of science. The video illustrates this process in the context of four topics that are commonly taught in the primary and secondary grades:

Properties of Matter (20 minutes)
... Addressing Specific Difficulties
... Interpreting Experimental Results
... Checking Student Reasoning
... Designing Valid Experiments

Electric Circuits (25 minutes)
... Developing a Scientific Model
... Checking Models for Consistency
... Relating Concepts to Scientific Representations
... Refining Scientific Models
... Demonstrating Conceptual Understanding

Light and Shadow (8 minutes)
... Eliciting Specific Difficulties
... Assessing Student Learning
Astronomy by Sight (24 minutes)
... Observing the Sun
... Looking for Patterns
... Developing Scientific Models
... Relating Concepts to Real-World Phenomena

FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS: The videotape can be used by professional developers, science faculty, education faculty, and policymakers to introduce the idea of teaching science as a process of inquiry. Questions that might be used to focus discussion of the video include:

... How is the process of teaching by guided inquiry, as demonstrated in the video, different from (or similar to) what you thought before viewing the video?

... What knowledge and skills do the instructors demonstrate in working with the teachers?

... What will be necessary for the teachers to construct this kind of learning experience for their own students?

... How can teachers benefit from learning (or relearning) science through a process of inquiry?

... How can K-12 students benefit from learning science through a process of inquiry?

... What is the role of the instructor in an inquiry-based classroom?

Physics by Inquiry: A Video Resource is produced by the WGBH Educational Foundation in partnership with the Physics Education Group in the Department of Physics at the University of Washington. Funded by the National Science Foundation.

Physics by Inquiry: A Video Resource is now available for distribution.

To order this and other instructional videos, contact:
WGBH Boston Video
PO Box 2284
South Burlington, VT 05407-2284
Call 1-800-949-8670
Fax 1-802-864-9846

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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