• Physics Teachers Workshop: The Modeling Cycle with Focus on Development of Accelerated Motion Concepts

    Saturday, September 17, 2011 | 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
    Columbia Teachers College, Zankel Hall, 525 West 120th St., Room 404

    This workshop will introduce the key aspects of the modeling cycle. Participants will divide into groups to investigate accelerated motion. The subsequent analysis and development of representational tools (graphs, equations and diagrams) will emulate classroom activities that prepare students to investigate more complex types of motion.

    THE MODELING CYCLE: The Modeling cycle refers to the sequence of pedagogical strategies used in Modeling Instruction. The use of modeling in teaching was pioneered by Robert Karplus in his 1969 textbook, Introductory Physics: A Modeling Approach, and Modeling Instruction was subsequently developed at Arizona State University by David Hestenes, Malcolm Wells, and Gregg Swackhamer, as well as by many others across the country. Modeling Instruction is disseminated through peer-led summer workshops. The best way to learn more about modeling is to participate in a workshop, but if you'd like to read more about it, go to

    While the workshop will strengthen understanding of accelerated motion concepts, it is not focused on learning new physics. The primary purpose is, first, to introduce a set of instructional tools for eliciting ideas and building understanding in middle and high school students, and, second, to connect physics colleagues together and to spark strong interaction and deep discussion of effective pedagogy.

    The level is appropriate for introductory physics courses, grades 7-12, and for teachers with knowledge of physics ranging from minimal to advanced.

    Participants will experiment with a simple, innovative apparatus that allows a disk to accelerate down a slope sufficiently slowly that data can be recorded by hand, thus allowing students to develop an intuitive, "feel" for the actual phenomena and to visualize and internalize the key physics concepts.

    Participants can order class sets of the apparatus at cost: $5 per setup. Orders for the apparatus should be placed as soon as possible as part of the RSVP/signup survey here.

    Limited to 20 participants. Questions or special requests should be addressed to Fernand Brunschwig at


    Ice-breaker: Short presentation on teaching practice

    As a warm-up exercise, there will be time for one short (5-10 minute) presentation by anyone who is interested about their own teaching practice. Participants interested in presenting should consult this link for guidelines and/or correspond with Andrew Stillman at Three to four slides about each presentation should be submitted at that site ASAP. At this workshop there will be time for only one presentation, but there will be opportunities for additional presentations at future workshops. The presentation should showcase creative and innovative solutions to problems of practice ranging from questions of workflow to student management to philosophy of teaching. Include links to resources if possible.


    Organizer: Fernand Brunschwig, Physics and Science Education, Teachers College

    Workshop leader: Mark Schober, Physics Teacher, Trinity School

    NYC Workshop assistants:

    Seth Guinals-Kupperman, Physics Teacher, High School for Math, Science and Engineering at the City College of New York

    Andrew Stillman, Program Officer for Digital Instruction, New Visions for Public Schools

    Nathan Finney, Physics Teacher, Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science and Engineering (CSSMSE)